Snohomish creating wildlife sanctuary
SNOHOMISH - The Snohomish Riverview Sanctuary was selected as the proposed name for the city’s first wildlife protection area located in the west end of town along the north bank of the Snohomish River on the west side of Highway 9.
The project’s steering committee selected the name out of more than 70 suggestions from residents, city project manager Ann Stanton said.
Since last July, the City Council-appointed steering committee has been working on a master plan to create the about 40-acre wildlife refuge, which includes city property and land owned by the Pilchuck Audubon Society.
The project will offer a “high-quality birding experience” for visitors to view the more than 140 bird species that have been observed there.
Parks board member Lya Badgley is happy the collaboration between the city and Pilchuck Audubon Society worked out well.
“It’s a serene place, almost like a secret garden,” Badgley said.
The master plan went before the parks board May 22 for approval. The plan will be presented to the City Council at its June 18 meeting. The council is scheduled to adopt the master plan at its July 16 meeting.
The master plan is available to read at City Hall and Snohomish Library. Stanton said she’s received some positive feedback on the plan since its release.
In 2011, the city completed a paved walking path along First Street just east of Highway 9 that created almost a mile of public access along the Snohomish River’s levee. The path provides bird-viewing opportunities into the Pilchuck Audubon Society’s property within the Cemetery Creek marsh.
Other projects to enhance the conservation, recreation and educational opportunities in the refuge will come later.
The parks board is in preliminary discussions to ask the city for some funding next year.
The board wants the council to include $15,000 in the 2014 budget for signs and amenities such as benches and railings.
The plan’s main objective, though, is to maintain the area’s habitat while giving the public the opportunity to view wildlife in its natural state.
During a January meeting to discuss the plan, the issue of allowing dogs in the refuge stirred up strong opinions on both sides. Stanton said she received a lot of comments from residents about dogs, with about a four-to-one ratio in favor of keeping dogs out of the refuge entirely.
Allowing any kind of pet in the refuge would be highly disruptive to the wildlife’s natural habitat and pets shouldn’t be allowed in the refuge, according to the plan.
Stanton said the city is interested in building one or two off-leash dog parks elsewhere in the city in the near future.
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