Northwest NEWS

October 2, 2000

Features

Success in Bear Creek

by Wendy Walsh
   Recently, the P-I printed a front page article by William Ruckleshaus regarding salmon recovery funding. Bear Creek was cited as an example of an urban stream which still supports salmon: "Bear Creek, in the Lake Washington Watershed, is one of the most productive streams its size in the Sound, supporting chinook, coho, sockeye and other fish species."
   Citizen activism was cited as one of the contributing factors. This includes activities by the Water Tenders, but so much more. It includes every citizen who becomes informed and involved. For example, in July some vandals opened hydrants which sent soil erosion into Cottage Lake Creek, and many citizens called the authorities so the response was immediate. This became an educational oportunity for neighbors to communicate to our children, the difference between constructive and destructive pranks.
   Cottage Creek Nursery has a large outreach and educational program, sponsored by Leon and Linda Hussey in which flocks of people are given the opportunity to learn about Bear Creek.
   Each fall, Ray Heller, County Stream Steward for Bear Creek, joins neighbors for streamside talks during spawning season. Families bring their children to enjoy the event, and the torch of caring is passed on.
   In Redmond, Town Center administrators have become interested in participating in Bear Creek outreach and protection programs since the creek is adjacent to the commercial area.
   Snohomish County has recently become involved in efforts to preserve the headwaters areas. The recent acquisition of the area homesteaded by the Lloyd family is an example of governments working together with the Cascade Land Conservancy and members of WaterTenders and other concerned citizens.
   Teamwork. There are so many people doing small things, and together they make a difference a huge difference. Mother Teresa said: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
   Love of the ecosystem is what we, who care, all feel, and acting on the love is what counts. An attitude of loving our environment is contagious. Here in Bear Creek, we make an effort to connect with county and state government officials.
   In July the Water Tenders joined county officials in a combined float trip down the Sammamish River, which was educational but mainly a great deal of fun. Sharing our enthusiasm makes a difference to policy makers.
   This fall we are facing political choices of governing officials. Saving our salmon is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats have joined forces to find funding for land acquisition around the creek. Nonpartisan groups have been formed of both parties who recognize the severity of the declining fisheries and returning salmon. These are folks who care.
   The biggest difference is in individuals who struggle with the issue of "property rights." Again, this is nonpartisan. Salmon use passageways through property to travel to and from spawning areas. The reality is that if these passageways are not protected, the salmon will not survive. Salmon belong to no one, and everyone - they are beyond property rights, and we are all responsible for their survival. Putting the health of the ecosystem first is what counts. We humans have the ability to make choices and the gift of intelligence to make good choices.
   If we want our governing officials to be responsive, then: What counts, is for all of us to Vote.
   Voting is a small thing, but it is important to elect folks who have indicated real caring and concern about ecosystem and environmental issues. Becoming educated about the candidates and their approaches in these issues is of vital concern to all of us who live here and care. This is another small thing which makes a huge difference.