Sale of Wood Creek Forest Threatens Habitat and Land Stability

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City of Everett is proposing to designate as “surplus” and sell 92.5 acres straddling Wood Creek. This hundred-year-old forest and rich wildlife habitat separate the Valley View and Eastmont neighborhoods. In an effort to address long-standing budget deficits, Everett’s Real Property Manager is proposing Wood Creek be approved as "surplus to the city's needs" to authorize its sale. The forest growth literally holds the environmentally-sensitive steep slope of Wood Creek watershed in place. This lush forest also filters both the air and sound pollution generated by I-5 along its west side. Deforestation not only destroys invaluable natural habitat but also paves the way for catastrophic landslides. In an area already proven unstable with evidence of recent devastating landslides (“Armageddon Creek” on Panaview Drive, 2011), this singular forest holds the line against future catastrophe and irreparable environmental damage.

The timing of the City Council’s consideration of this proposal during Governor's Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order effectively denies the public meaningful democratic participation in being afforded a public hearing. Comment by phone for a proposal of this significance is not a suitable substitute for face-to-face interaction between the voting public and our elected representatives. 

In her January 2020 State of Everett Address, Mayor Cassie Franklin declared a need to "continue work to increase and protect our green spaces and natural areas." We must remind her of this pledge. What better way to fulfill this commitment than to continue to protect this historic, environmentally necessary forested area? Value extends far beyond the monetary. Thinking beyond the current financial emergency and using a broader lens, City leaders have the opportunity to view Wood Creek Forest as a valuable public treasure that could be filled with walking trails to benefit current and future generations, fulfilling one of the stated City priorities. In addition, Everett’s December 2019 Climate Action Plan, proposes to tackle by 2050 long-term “climate risks,” by targeting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to a 2014 baseline. That plan is meant to demonstrate the powerful impact that local leadership can have in this effort. In fact, a major CAP goal is to establish “vibrant, healthy, and livable neighborhoods by increase[ing] protect[ing], and restor[ing] green spaces and natural areas within the community.” Destruction of one of Everett’s remaining tracks of undeveloped natural habitat is in direct contradiction to that type of leadership.  

Long-standing forests are Nature's best defense in battling climate risk whether it be from air pollution or erosion. Not only do they filter air, they provide soil stability with long-established, extensive root systems. The canopy slows the rate of water permeating the ground. The shade offered creates cool complex habitat for salmon and cutthroat. Without those trees, these conditions will be compromised.  Any short-term focused decision that results in the removal of trees to allow development in the Wood Creek property, undercuts these stated goals and threatens what is already unstable ground. The consequences of such a decision would undoubtedly result in more landslides, sinkholes, watershed contamination, loss of animal habitat, and loss of trees to mitigate pollution.

Our Edmonds neighbors recently experienced a nightmarishly similar scenario when they fought to preserve a comparable parcel of forested land and lost. Ultimately, after logging the property, the developer went bankrupt and walked away, leaving the plot barren and unstable. The community was left to deal the consequences with no help from the City.

Your signature on this petition indicates your opposition to the designation of the Woods Creek parcel as “surplus to the city’s needs” for subsequent sale for residential development. Your signature also indicates support for the request, at minimum, that any/all Everett City Council deliberations on this matter take place only after the public can participate in person. Furthermore, we are requesting the Council Members respond to our inquiries and take time to perform a thorough, public investigation of our safety and environmental concerns before any decision.

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