|Redmond Preservation Map|
By Susan Wilkins
We in Redmond are fortunate to live near some of the wildest natural areas in King County. On the east edge of Redmond, running north-south along Avondale and Mink Road is the Bear Creek Valley. And the deep valley traversed by Redmond-Fall City Road (SR202) contains the Evans Creek Basin. Both of these valleys are heavily forested and surprisingly undeveloped. They both contain significant native salmon runs with wetlands surrounding the network of meandering streams, especially compared to the incorporated, urban areas of nearby Redmond and Sammamish.
The decision to preserve the Bear and Evans Creek drainage basin areas was made more than 20 years ago. According to Paul Reitenbach, Senior Policy Analyst for the King County Department of Development and Environmental Service, in the early 1990s as part of long-term urban growth planning mandated by the Growth Management Act, the county decided to designate the Bear-Evans Creek Corridor and the Soos Creek Basin (in Kent) as permanently preserved natural areas. The King County Comprehensive Plan was written to include tight restrictions on residential and commercial developments in these basins and the county began programs that promoted habitat restoration and reforestation. Land along Bear Creek has been purchased by King County for permanent preservation using Conservation Futures Tax money provided by open space levies. Many landowners along and near Bear Creek have entered into long-term habitat preservation agreements with the county in exchange for reduced annual property tax bills.
In the Evans Creek Basin, the City of Sammamish owns the Evans Creek Preserve, a 180-acre city park with nature trails, wetlands and meadows. King County has 30 acres under permanent protection in the Evans Creek Natural Area and also own most of the land with steep slopes along Sahalee Way. Read More >>
Residential zoning allows one house per 10-acres, but most of the bottomland is too swampy for construction. There are a number of old farms and some residential neighborhoods that were built in the Evans Creek Valley along SR202 prior to the passage of the Growth Management Act, but in the past 20 years almost no new houses have been constructed in the valley.
King County still has a lot of undeveloped land inside cities as well as in the rural countryside. With population growth and economic development over the past few years, we have watched small forest areas and homes on a few acres being bulldozed and replaced with tightly packed rows of houses and tall apartments. Even in our parks we’ve seen fields, swamplands and tree canopies disappear as trails and sports fields are developed.
Fifty to 100 years from now the Bear and Evans Creeks basins will still be preserved in their natural states. We’ll marvel at how today’s foresight allowed us to set aside the valleys and their entire ecosystems in a nearly undisturbed state. How many other major metropolitan areas will be able to provide such a rich resource for its residents? The next time you’re driving along Avondale or Redmond-Fall City Road, remind yourself that this will remain unchanged for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.
By Susan Wilkins