Northwest NEWS

February 15, 1999


It makes sense to preserve what we already have

   I'm curious how many Highway 9 commuters are aware of what Snohomish County has planned for their commuting pleasure.

   The County Council recently approved the relocation of the Northshore School Bus facilities from its present location in Bothell to the east side of Highway 9, just north of 228th and the Bear Creek Grange. The school bus operation, with its 173 bus stalls and 300 automobile stalls, will be in operation from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., exactly the same hours you and I are sitting on Highway 9 trying to get either to work or home.

   To the south of the proposed bus facility, and presently under construction, is Stock Pot Soups, which will employ 300 people. To the south of Stock Pot Soups--and not yet under construction--will be the Woodinville Business Park, which will have 300 parking places, which will no doubt be filled with employees of that facility. Further south of Woodinville Business Park--and already under review by the county--will be the new Eagle Hardware, which will employ many and draw additional traffic, because it is a retail establishment.

   Highway 9 will eventually be widened. No doubt there are those who assume this will cure the traffic problems we suffer on Highway 9. Don't be fooled. Have the recent improvements on 405 cleared up traffic for your commute? It will be the same on Highway 9. You will still sit in traffic, but likely you will be sharing the road with 120 diesel buses and many additional cars.

   But there are further impacts than just traffic. Our rural environment is also threatened. With the loss of rural lands goes fish and wildlife habitat. All four of the facilities, in total, will consume about 70 to 80 acres of land. All facilities will be paving their lots with no buffer to protect wetlands, and little protection for drainage to Little Bear Creek.

   These facilities will construct water retention ponds, some open and some covered, but all of them have their final runoff into Little Bear Creek. The eventual widening of the highway will cause even more runoff to the creek. How much runoff will it take to scour the creek bed clean of its much-needed spawning grounds, not to mention the impact of the pollutants from our cars?

   It is likely that the Chinook salmon will be added to the endangered species list in March. I find it is ironic that at the 11th hour, the county has granted permission for another major blow to the fish habitat of Little Bear Creek, which is considered one of the finest streams in the Lake Washington drainage for Chinook salmon.

   We should be proud and honored to have an endangered species in our own backyards, and should be doing everything possible to protect these fish. Instead, we are taking what could be one final blow to further wipe them out. If you have a chance in September and December to get off the highway and observe the salmon coming up the stream to spawn, I suggest you take the time to witness it. It is rapidly coming to an end.

   "Downstreamers" need to be aware of higher waters coming their way. They are already heavily impacted when we have occasional hard rains. Those floods are going to be more frequent and damaging.

   Little Bear Creek contains not only Chinook, but other salmon, trout, and steelhead, which at the moment are under review. Are we going to wipe out these fish only to come back some time in the future and spend an incredible amount of money and time to develop a plan to recover our lost salmon habitat?

   Doesn't it make sense to preserve what we have than to destroy and then try to repair at a great cost? Man cannot improve on what nature developed naturally.

   If you are concerned with either of these issues, please do something. Write a letter to any council member, community groups, Letter to the Editor section of your local newspaper, Washington Dept. of Transportation, or Governor Locke, if need be. Make your voice heard. Speak now while we can still protest to what is going to affect us all one way or another.

   Every voice does make a difference. You can fax your ideas on this issue to 425-487-3737 or you can send e-mail to the Little Bear Creek Assn. at Watch for public meetings being held in your neighborhood regarding the "Endangered Species Act," another way to make sure your voice is heard.

Joyce Hoikka