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Bothell students thank Sen. Patty Murray for supporting forest conservation
The steady hum of I-405 could be heard just beneath the calls of pileated woodpeckers and a new kind of creature in North Creek Forest – elementary school science students.
Fifth-grade students from St. Brendan's School in Bothell joined Friends of North Creek Forest, naturalist Rob Sandelin, and Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition in for a day of education and thanks on Wednesday.
The students walked from St Brendan's to North Creek Forest, a glimpse of opportunities to come if the forest is protected in perpetuity. Sandelin lead the students in identifying sword fern, bleeding heart, thimbleberries, and other plants, counting each individual plant within randomly selected 2-meter areas. The students generated data that will be added to research already collected by UW Bothell and Cascadia Community College students as they monitor biodiversity and the health of the forest.
North Creek Forest is the last urban forest in Bothell and more than 9,000 students, like the students of St. Brendan's, go to class within walking distance of this outdoor laboratory. But the forest is imminently threatened by development. Without a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) a large part of the forest could be lost forever.
Senator Patty Murray recently included full funding for LWCF in the Senate budget, providing hope that the forest will be protected for generations to come. Since its creation by Congress in 1965, LWCF has been the premier federal grant program to expand and protect our local, state and national parks, wildlife refuges, working forests and trails. Instead of taxpayer dollars, LWCF relies on royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition has been working with Friends of North Creek Forest in advocating for these grants.
“Without the [Land and Water Conservation Fund], we wouldn’t have had a chance,” said Jim Freese, executive director of Friends of North Creek Forest. “As the value of the property goes up, it gets harder and harder to raise funding to buy the rest of the land.”
The City of Bothell has received one LWCF grant to purchase 6 acres of the forest but one outstanding grant is needed for 22 additional acres to ensure the entire forest can become an urban park within the Bothell City limits.
At the end of the outing, students thanked Senator Patty Murray for her support of LWCF.
When Murray was first getting started in politics, she was told she was just a "Mom in white tennis shoes." As a tribute to that, students signed a pair of white hiking boots to send to her.