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Petition to Gov. Inslee: Help restore Edmonds Marsh

 

September 19, 2019



The local Save Our Marsh citizens group has initiated a petition drive to request Gov. Jay Inslee dedicate the state property adjacent to the Edmonds Marsh for salmon recovery, estuary restoration, and wildlife conservation. The petition can be accessed online at chng.it/4Kg7wdtZcT.

Background

The old Unocal site on the southern edge of the Edmonds Marsh was purchased by the Washington Department of Transportation in 2005 for the purpose of building a new ferry terminal. But Washington State Ferries abandoned that plan some time ago.

Thus, that state property, if transferred to another state agency with wildlife management responsibility, could be made part of the Edmonds Wildlife Sanctuary. This would allow the placement of tidal channels necessary to reestablish a natural estuary that will benefit the health of Puget Sound and its wildlife. Salmon would again be able to utilize the estuary and migrate to upstream spawning areas.

The Edmonds Marsh-Estuary connection to Puget Sound was cut off in the 1960s when the Port of Edmonds marina was built. The tidal connection was put into a 1,600-foot pipe that exits into deep waters, and that, in combination with a tide gate, has been to the detriment of salmon, wildlife, and human enjoyment of our natural environment.

We can restore spawning coho and chum salmon runs and enhance Endangered Species Act-listed chinook salmon by replacing the pipe with an open channel to Puget Sound that would be accessible to salmon and other aquatic species.

Reestablishing a functional saltwater estuary with daily tidal exchange would enhance the health of Puget Sound and benefit salmon and other wildlife (such as the endangered resident killer whales) that have declined due to deterioration of the near-shore environment.

After years of study and community support, the City of Edmonds is trying to proceed with restoring the Edmonds Marsh-Estuary back to a fully functional saltwater estuary. But to do this, the Unocal property on the southern edge of the Edmonds Marsh is needed. This is the only feasible location for placement of tidal channels to reconnect the marsh to Puget Sound.

In fact, a bridge was built under the railroad tracks at the south end of the Unocal property (near the entrance to the dog park at Marina Beach) to allow for a tidal channel outlet.

The City has committed over $1.3 million as match for the federal and state grant funds that would be needed for this restoration project, but has been stifled in applying for grants due to lack of a landowner agreement for use of the old Unocal property.

WSDOT has refused to sign any agreement and will not even commit to allowing a tidal channel cross the property in the future. Further, during the predesign phase of the restoration project, WSDOT requested that the tidal channel be placed next to the railroad tracks with minimal riparian area (which would not be to the benefit of salmon).

WSDOT is thus preventing a viable habitat restoration project from proceeding, since there is no other alternative for locating the tidal channels other than the state property currently controlled by WSDOT.

Thus, citizens are asking Inslee to intervene and commit to having the WSDOT property adjacent to the marsh (which is surplus to the WSDOT need for a ferry terminal) be used for restoring the Edmonds Marsh-Estuary to benefit salmon recovery and improve the health of Puget Sound and its wildlife.

Since WSDOT has stated it does not have authority to manage the land as a wildlife reserve, we are asking the governor to transfer the state property to another state agency, such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that does have authority to manage the state property as a wildlife sanctuary.

The state should be considering the best use for this state taxpayer paid land and that would be, in the view of the Save Our Marsh group and the citizens that sign the petition, making it a wildlife sanctuary and allowing the City to proceed with a viable estuary restoration project that utilizes the portions of that land for tidal channels and riparian areas necessary to benefit salmon.

 

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