Preserving Juanita Bay, the gem of Kirkland’s wildlife habitats

Juanita Bay Park is a gem, I declare. It is one of King County’s most diverse and complete wetlands.

Juanita Bay Park is a gem, I declare. It is one of King County’s most diverse and complete wetlands.

How fortunate are we to have this beautiful urban wildlife habitat area in our city? More than 100 species of birds, several small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish make the park a permanent home or temporary nesting point during their migrations.

I visit the park often and remember how the “old golf course” was slated for a housing development. A little activist group rallied and the City Council was supportive.

In 1976, and then again in 1984, park bonds were passed by the community; first to acquire the lower wetland portion and then to secure the remaining upland portion of the land. In subsequent years the city added about 48 acres of land in the Forbes Valley, making the total protected area now approximately 110 acres

A comprehensive Vegetation Management Plan was developed in 2004, which delineates the different “vegetation communities” and provides management recommendations to rid several of the invasive species present in the natural areas.

To implement the recommendations and focus on restoration of the wetland areas, the city is currently working with a nonprofit group called Seattle Urban Nature. The group is dedicated to improving urban natural areas by engaging communities. It specializes in mapping habitat types and designing restoration projects. Its plan of action for Juanita Bay wetlands will identify priority areas and provide methods and costs of wetland restoration.

Restoration activities suitable for volunteers, contractors and goats (which are great blackberry consumers) will be described, and it is anticipated that these restoration activities will start this year, possibly during the summer.

If you visit the park this summer or fall, walk along the wetland buffer and see for yourself how the blackberries have taken over, and you might just observe critical restoration work taking place.

We want Juanita Bay Park to have healthy wetlands to attract many different species of birds and other wildlife to our city!

~Former Kirkland City Councilwoman Nona Ganz is a volunteer with the Green Kirkland Partnership, an organization backed by the Cascade Land Conservancy. Visit the group online at www.cascadeland.org/stewardship/green-cities/green-kirkland-partnership.


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