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Preserving Heirman property as future park is what Bob wanted

Above: The park property off of Bickford Avenue (basemap © OpenStreetMap contributors, under CC-BY-SA license). At right: Bob Heirman in 2017 (Doug Ramsay photo)

Bob Heirman’s legacy will be firmly rooted in the Snohomish soil he treasured as a new park will be dedicated in his honor.
The late Snohomish environmentalist and outdoorsman championed the area’s natural wonders tirelessly, and his devoted wife Clara Heirman has championed his park with the same passion.
“This is fulfilling his dream, it’s always been a dream of his,” Heirman said.
The 3.5-acre park was once the Heirman family homestead. Clara Heirman still remembers the chicken coops, the root house where canned produce was kept, and the modest house where Bob grew up. The home came down years ago and the county hopes to secure a grant to remove the remaining decaying structures soon.
The open land boasts a diverse ecosystem. The urban oasis features a pond and creek on the northwest corner of the plat, bounded by wetlands. Two-thirds of the land is forested, including Douglas firs more than 70 years old. It’s the habitat of songbirds, mammals and amphibians who traverse terrain that shifts from gentle slopes to lush green hills.
Clara Heirman treasures all the park residents, including the deer, “big bucks with great big horns,” and she stipulated the land remain forested to preserve the “amazing” wildlife.
The name of the park is still being finalized and will require county approval, but the important work of protecting it from development is nearly finished.
As inviting as the site is for nature lovers, it would have been equally attractive to builders. The lot sits on 66th Street, just south of Weaver Way, off of Bickford Avenue and near state Route 9.
“There would’ve been a bidding war but I said ‘no way,’” Heirman said.
Instead, she approached the county about buying the land from her and her nephew. The county’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism division received a $400,000 Snohomish County Conservation Futures grant to fund the purchase and is in the final stages of completing the paperwork, said parks property administrator Kye Iris.
Not much will change once the purchase is complete. A few diseased trees will be removed to preserve the health of the rest. Heirman pictures picnic tables added to an existing concrete slab so families can enjoy meals near the trees.
The county will initially provide stewardship and maintenance for the park, a role which could transfer to the city in time.
The greenspace will provide a rare in-city park for residents of busy nearby neighborhoods. There is no other property in the community with the same environmental richness wrote park planning supervisor James Yap in the grant application.
Bob Heirman, an advocate for seniors’ access to nature, would no doubt be gratified to know his childhood homestead would enable many nearby seniors to partake in the wilds.
The park will join the 343-acre Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy as monuments to Heirman’s lifelong advocacy for the wild.
A ribbon cutting is tentatively scheduled for the second half of November close to what would have been Bob Heirman’s birthday Nov. 20. Details will be in the Tribune when available.
To those who knew the lifelong resident of Snohomish before cancer took him April 29, 2017 at age 84, the park is a perfect tribute.
“It’s a nature park, and you know Bob is nature,” Heirman said.




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