February 12, 2001
North Creek Greenway funds available
The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation (AASF) is in the process of developing the Northwest Stream Center next to North Creek. This small salmon stream flows from headwaters just west of the Everett Mall through Snohomish County, and the cities of Mill Creek and Bothell.
Tom Murdoch, who heads the foundation, says, "We use North Creek as a 'living laboratory' for stream ecology classes. Future operation of the Northwest Stream Center depends a great deal on making sure that the creek's water quality and its salmon run is in good condition."
Because this stream system drains a watershed that is being rapidly developed, many things have to happen very soon to ensure that North Creek will be able to support salmon runs in the future.
Murdoch says, "Immediate steps to preserve upland open space, wetlands and undeveloped areas next to the creek must be taken or the salmon run will disappear in the next few years."
Some of the steps he suggests include creating urban design standards that will lead to attractive housing on "small foot prints" and incentives for developers to "build up instead of out."
He also says that property owners should be provided economic incentives to protect open areas.
The Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department and the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation have come up with an answer to the economic incentive part of the equation ‹ the North Creek Greenway. "We have received grants totaling $578,000 from the Interagency for Outdoor Recreation and Snohomish County's Conservation Futures Fund to purchase conservation easements from people who have undeveloped lands next to North Creek," says Parks Property Manager Diane Housden. "These funds are available to us just for the next three months, so we have to hurry."
Housden advises that anyone who owns undeveloped land next to North Creek who is interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should contact her or Murdoch immediately at (425) 388-6600, fax: (425) 377-9509.
Before making the call a little homework is required. Check your property title to see if there are existing restrictions regarding development, find your property tax account number, and be prepared to provide clear driving/hiking directions.
You will then be asked to authorize the County to conduct a site visit and to allow Parks to appraise the value of the property.
All North Creek Greenway purchase offers will be based on appraised value.
Murdoch says, "The North Creek Greenway is a great deal. People who would have a very difficult time developing wet areas next to North Creek because of tougher salmon regulations will be given a financial reward to keep it natural. Both the land owner and the salmon become winners."