Northwest NEWS

August 16, 1999

Local News

Inslee paddles 1st District waterways

paddling politicians

U.S. 1st District Representative Jay Inslee, and about a dozen other paddlers including State Representative Laura Ruderman and fish biologists, kayaked down the Sammamish Slough last Saturday.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott.

by Marshall Haley & Andrew Walgamott

   U.S. Representative Jay Inslee kicked off his "Paddles and Parks" Congressional briefing tour last Friday, Aug. 13, in Redmond. Last Saturday, Inslee and about a dozen other paddlers, including State Representative Laura Ruderman and fish biologists, kayaked down the Sammamish River from Redmond to Kenmore viewing salmon projects and recreational sites funded through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

   "We've seen some really good things going on in the river, (including) a half-dozen salmon restoration projects," said Inslee, pointing towards work being done at the mouth of Gold Creek near Woodinville. He called the Sammamish and its walking and biking trails "an incredibly beautiful recreational corridor," but said that a significant portion of the LWCF, a grant program that helps state and local governments acquire and enhance new recreational lands, is siphoned off for other uses. He is co-sponsoring a bill that would prevent the raiding of the fund for other programs.

   "We want to see it used for what it is for," he said, noting that the fund could be used for soccer fields. "There's a tremendous demand."

   Stopping at the recently completed waterfront Wilmot Gateway

   Park in Woodinville for lunch with Woodinville city leaders and others, Inslee commented that "Woodinville's done a good job with this facility."

   City council members Randy Ransom and Barbara Solberg kayaked with Inslee from Wilmot Park to Bothell Landing, which was initially funded through the LWCF.

   "I'm encouraged to see his interest," said Ransom of Inslee. "The days of Teddy Roosevelt and parklands need to be rekindled. Once the land is lost, it's gone forever."

   Inslee was overheard to say that the roughest section of water for the kayakers Saturday was a "slight riffle" upstream. When settlers first arrived, the Sammamish wound around the valley but was later straightened. King County and cities bordering the slough have recently worked on clearing invasive species and replanting stretches of the bank in hopes of cooling the stream and making it more salmon friendly.

   All the sites visited by Inslee were funded in part through the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), to provide important recreational opportunities and promote conservation efforts. The LWCF is a federal grant program to help state and local governments acquire and enhance recreation lands. LWCF revenues come from offshore oil and gas leasing fees, federal outdoor recreation user fees and the federal motorboat fuel tax.

   Congress has authorized the fund at $900 million per year, but currently spends hundreds of millions less on the LWCF, according to Inslee. He said he is fighting to send more of the authorized LWCF funds to local communities by cosponsoring a bill to prevent Congress from raiding the fund for other programs.

   Inslee, a Democrat who was elected to represent the area last November, tour of 1st District LWCF sites continues through Tue., Aug. 17. His schedule called for additional kayaking from Kenmore to downtown Kirkland, from Edmonds to Golden Gardens in Seattle, then across the Sound to Bainbridge Island and Suquamish and on to Poulsbo, site of his district office.