Edmonds police are investigating after vandals cut trees and shrubs near the Shell Creek riparian area adjacent to Edmonds’ Holy Rosary Church Tuesday night.
This section of Shell Creek is one of the areas targeted by the Edmonds Stream Team as part of its effort to restore salmon habitat by both planting native plant species along the streambank and releasing young fish as part of the effort restore local runs. Salmon hatch boxes were placed in this section of Shell Creek just last month.
Owned by Holy Rosary Church, the property offers visitors a natural green space with trails, a bench. and the constant sound of flowing water. “It’s a nice, peaceful area,” remarked Holy Rosary Deacon Craig Lundquist. “This kind of damage is heartbreaking.”
According to fisheries biologist Joe Scordino, advisor to the Edmonds Stream Team, the damage appears to have been targeted to two non-native invasive plant species, Cherry Laurel (Prunus lauroceracus) and English Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Both these plants are densely foliated and tend to out-compete native species by blocking sunlight and absorbing water. While no explanation of the vandalism has been offered, this has led some to speculate that the damage might have been part of an ill-informed effort to create growing space for native species. The cuts are quite thin (see photo with ruler inserted to demonstrate) suggesting that they might have been made by a battery-powered Sawzall-type tool
“But this vandalism is doing more harm than good,” explained Scordino. “Removing these plants exposes the soil underneath to erosion from winter rains and hence damages the delicate riparian ecosystem and significantly increases silting of the stream; bad news for the salmon. While many of the cut trees fell into the stream, thankfully no salmon hatch boxes were damaged.”
Because the vandalism occurred on church property, Holy Rosary officials contacted Edmonds police. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure, an officer was dispatched to the scene “but there is no current suspect information.”
— By Larry Vogel