Readers of My Edmonds News have probably seen articles about our local marsh and the controversy surrounding it. They may be aware that there is an Edmonds organization, called Save Our Marsh. They might even have heard testimony about the marsh at many city council meetings. Now a public hearing on the marsh is scheduled for the city council meeting on March 21.
Why should we care about all this? There are so many reasons: Our marsh is not only a place of refuge for a multitude of birds and other wildlife, it also offers a peaceful refuge for people seeking the serenity of nature in an urban area. Additionally, many people from outside Edmonds come to the marsh to view the more than 190 species of birds to be found there; this eco-tourism contributes to our local economy. Furthermore, students and their teachers use the marsh as an educational resource, and indigenous groups treasure it as part of their heritage.
Big Picture Benefits
Those are just the local benefits. What about the big picture? Our marsh is connected to Puget Sound and, as one of the few remaining saltwater estuaries linked to it, plays a role in the health of the Sound. The health of the Sound is essential for recovery of salmon runs and sources of food for Orca whales. Not only do such marshes play an important role in water quality, they play a role in general environmental quality. In the process of storing carbon dioxide, marshes can help mitigate global warming.
What are the threats to the marsh?
With general agreement about these benefits, why is there a problem? As is so often the case, economic goals come into conflict with environmental concerns. Protecting the marsh and its inhabitants with a buffer may limit the amount and type of future development at Harbor Square, which sits on the northern boundary of the marsh. The Port of Edmonds Commissioners want the freedom to sell this land to developers, with few restrictions on land use. When there is money to be made, too often the greater good is overlooked.
Dedicated citizens have been working hard to get clarity from the city council in defining the desired buffer for the marsh, a definition that does not put developers in charge of its fate. Anyone who cares about this amazing local resource should plan to attend the hearing at the city council meeting on March 21.