Letter to the editor: Will we choose to rebuild our ‘Eiffel Tower’?


Second only to the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame was the most iconic structure in France. The French people, and the philanthropists rallying to rebuild it, are not responding to the loss of a building; they are responding to the loss of their cultural pride and identity.

When seeking a parallel in Washington state, what comes to mind after the Space Needle, our Eiffel Tower?

One need look no further than the natural beauty of our many waterways and the animals that inhabit them to conclude that our state identity, our culture, rests and manifests in regional wildlife such as salmon and Orcas. Their demise, made poignant with the 17-day carriage of her dead calf by Orca mother J35, is most directly tied to food scarcity (according to CNN, Sat Aug 11, 2018). Through processes such as overfishing, man-made obstacles and interferences, and unsustainable transportation and agricultural practices, we are responsible for the perilous circumstances and grave danger in which both species exist.

Will we respond to the call to restore our cultural identity in Washington state as the French committed to restoring theirs? Will we show up with our dollars, our changed habits and our volunteer hours to turn the tide on survival?

Shoreline just made this commitment. It’s our turn Edmonds. Let’s start by flooding the Edmonds Parks Department with tax-deductible checks (memo “Marsh Restoration Fund-017) to expedite the daylighting of Willow Creek, a project scientists foresee making a significant impact on the salmon population. And when you are making your choices about weed control and car washing this weekend, think about the salmon living in the waters that receive runoff from your yard.

Our Notre Dame is burning.  

Will you choose to rebuild?

Vivian Olson

14 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Will we choose to rebuild our ‘Eiffel Tower’?”

  1. Thank you for writing this! You make a fair comparison and I have been personally struggling with our area losing it’s identity, soul and connection with nature around us.

    People live too much in the virtual world (tablets and cell phones) that they have lost touch with reality and have very little idea of what a dire state our natural world is in, because they never see it!


    PS- I have been waiting for the Space Needle to be converted to over priced “view” condos.


  2. Nicely stated and so needed to be talked about in ongoing conversations as a reminder of how each person can do something!
    I would also ask that each person going out on our waterways be conscious of the impact of engine noise, “acoustic smog”, and how it affects sea life, particularly whales. It interferes with their ability to navigate to find mates, keep track of their pod and alert friends of a good place to eat, and at times to even find what food there is to eat.
    Granted, much of this noise pollution comes from shipping traffic. Yet, as suggested in the above letter, as individuals, we can do something.
    Individually we can be aware of our impact each time we think about going on the water in a motorized boat/ship from pleasure crafts to all cruise ships.
    Remember..a whale’s behavior is defined not by an individual’s scale, but by a whale’s sense of scale-ocean basin-sized.


  3. As an avid salmon fisherman, boater and general outdoors enthusiast locally, I appreciate the writer’s viewpoint. Puget Sound is in tough shape for many reasons as noted, mostly man made. I think one major problem, not often addressed, is that the marine mammal populations are out of balance. We have had Marine Mammal protection laws for years now that have greatly increased the numbers of seals and sea lions in our local waters and all up and down the Coast from B.C. to California. A few years ago I spent a night in Astoria in a Motel near the city marina docks and was appalled at the virtual infestation of sea lions that had virtually taken over the marina there, feeding on salmon runs coming into the area to spawn. Locally, many salmon of the Chinook, CoHo and Pink varieties are “stolen” off of angler’s fishing gear by seals and sea lions. Interestingly, the Southern and Central Puget Sound Orcas, that feed mainly on Chinook salmon, are highly endangered and the Canadian San Juan Island Orcas, that feed on seals and sea lions, are thriving. Never underestimate the human capacity to mess things up, with good intentions.


  4. A beautifully conceived analogy, Vivian, thank you.

    In my travels, I’ve seen extraordinary human achievements in architecture, the arts, landscaped gardens, and engineering ingenuity. Awesome.

    And when I return home to Edmonds, I savor once again the brilliance of the natural world at our doorstep: the mountains, the tidal waters, whales and other marine mammals, the exuberance of plant growth, sunsets, storms and that little hummingbird outside my window. Also awesome.

    My husband and I are trying. We use only the most benign products in our home gardens. Electric car. Solar panels. We participate in beach cleanups. We decided to stop eating Chinook salmon (the diet of resident Orcas) and now buy Steelhead salmon (trout) instead. It’s delicious. And, with respect and admiration for their educational purpose, I am starting to question whether whale watching boats are a sound idea.

    Easier to restore a burned-out Cathedral than trying to reclaim nature that has been trashed through human activity, and terrific that people can decided to do both at the same time!


  5. Good on you, Susan, for doing your part. As for not eating Chinook, it’s a good gesture, but probably not all that beneficial to the Orca. Most of our commercial Cninook is caught in Alaska and headed for Alaska watersheds. Local Wild Chinook are protected and can’t be taken legally by commercial or sport fishermen, only local Tribes. The native people generally avoid taking wild fish as much as possible in their subsistence fisheries too. Sport fishing fees support Chinook hatcheries big time locally which coincidentally helps feed the Orca as well as supporting the local economy. Hatchery fish are marked by adipose fin removal at the hatcheries. Human consumption of Chinook has little bearing on whether or not the Orca survive.


  6. Yes, we do have a wonderful masterpiece in our midst that is in immediate need for near-shore estuary restoration by the day-lighting of Willow Creek. Thank you for reminding folks of City of Edmonds’ Fund 017 (that took me four years of asking to finally get it established – yahoo) and at year-end the total was $10,006! One of the grant-funding scoring criteria is community engagement, equity and education. By establishing this fund, future grant funding members are able to see that not only are we a great engaged environmental-conscious community; but we also willing to donate a few of our hard-earned dollars to this project.
    Kudos Vivian for this editorial!


  7. There is a lot of lamenting. The recognition that a famous religious historical building was overwhelmed by a fire that has not been completely explained, was shown on every media source available. It was shocking……and will be restored.
    The environment should be a concern for all communities. I thank the person who wrote to the editor. We live in a highly reactive social environment, about the natural environment. Politics and money; I will definitely make a donation to the Edmonds Park Dept. to support the restoration of the marshlands as a natural sanctuary for the salmon, birds, frogs and insects.
    With regard to the good intentions of having too many seals to the detriment of Salmon, there is probably a way to fix that; 1)Birth control for male seals. I believe they have harems. I am not going to hold my breathe on that!
    R. Warren


  8. Hopefully the Northern Orcas continue to thrive and increasingly visit South Sound and Hood Canal to chow down on abundant lesser mammals in the area. This might decrease some of the pressure on salmon species locally.


    1. The southern resident killer whales do not hunt or eat marine mammals…The transient killer whales are the mammal eaters that come into the Salish Sea to hunt the many seals and sea lions.

      Most of the trouble is the habitat destruction, degradation and pollution upstream from the Salish Sea. Making many streams uninhabitable for salmon.


  9. Thanks must be given to Joe Scordino and the Students Saving Salmon! And, we can’t forget that without Diane, the Marsh fund wouldn’t be in place.


  10. I see where KCPQ TV just did a special report on how the Hood Canal bridge is responsible for killing hundreds of juvenile Steelhead trout and at least a half million juvenile Chinook salmon every year. The bridge also acts as a wall where in migrating adult (salmon and steelhead) and out migrating (steelhead) fish get trapped and confused, presenting a smorgasbord for seals and sea lions, killing hundreds of critical fish before they can unlock the puzzle of getting under or around the bridge. These adult fish are critical for sustaining both hatchery and wild populations of fish. More to the point, the resident Orcas lose more of their critical local food supply.

    Regarding Diane’s influence on the marsh and creek issues, alone, she has earned my vote in the upcoming election. I also appreciate her views and actions on other unrelated issues.


  11. While it is important to daylight the marsh, while the seals and sea lions are at a healthy population, while its great to cut back how much salmon you eat there are larger problems with the salmon species.

    They have a very particular set of requirements in their stream habitats with temperature, dissolved oxygen, gravel beds to lay their eggs (redds), food sources, etc. Its important that you all understand that a lot of the problem is that the streams no longer support these habitat requirements thus salmon are unable to create the next generation to replace themselves. This comes from habitat destruction and pollution. Lawn fertilizers, dog poop coliforms, car leaks, silt build up in the stream, lack of plants surrounding to keep water temperature down so they have enough oxygen, plants that also host bugs for them to feed on, etc. Then there is also the lack of forage fish they feed upon….

    Its easy to point the finger to one group or one animal when in fact is its each one of us that needs to do our part. Whether that’s to help restore salmon stream habitat, take your car to a car wash, plant native plants that don’t require fertilizers, bag your dog poop asap, use silt screens, etc. Each one of us can do more to help.

    We can all do our part to help!


  12. Nicole is right. The problems are all pretty much caused by mankind and they will have to be solved by mankind, if it isn’t too late. If the user groups continue to fight over the last fish (salmon) and do the same things over and over, expecting different results, there will be no fix. If I thought sport fishing was the entire cause of the whole problem, I would put my boat up for sale tomorrow. I do expect that sport fishing for hatchery Chinook will be curtailed greatly in the next few years to supposedly save the resource and the Orca. It won’t in either case. Neither will curtailing hatchery production to enhance wild production, but that is exactly what we will do. I’d bet my boat on it.


  13. An earlier post in these comments referred to the Canadian San Juan Islands. There are no such islands. The part of the archipelago that belongs to Canada is known as the Gulf Islands. Each Gulf Island has a rich and distinctive culture, economy, and heritage. They are no more the Canadian San Juans than the San Juan Islands are the American Gulf Islands.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *