Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bog savers receive Ecology’s Environmental Excellence Award

By Larry Altose, communications manager, Northwest Regional Office, Bellevue

Earth Day 2015 finds us a day shy of a year since a unanimous Snohomish County Council agreed to purchase and thereby preserve a 25-acre slice of nature between Woodinville and Maltby called Hooven Bog.

It made this a fitting day to honor two people who led a grass-roots effort to protect a rare example of bog and fen wetland that has become increasingly rare in western Washington.

Ecology's regional wetlands chief Paul Anderson (left) 

nominated Mark Ericks and Randy Whalen for the 

Environmental Excellence Award.
Randall Whalen and Mark Ericks received Ecology’s Environmental Excellence Award for their leadership in preserving this resource. Northwest Regional Director Josh Baldi presented the award at a ceremony today in the Everett office of Snohomish County Executive John Lovick.

“Randy and Mark are directly responsible for protecting Hooven Bog,” said Baldi. “We applaud their success in preserving a place where people can see its plant and animal life, and the way it supplies cool, clean water. People like Randy and Mark give us hope that we not only can protect special places like Hooven Bog, but also that we can restore the health of Puget Sound."

Getting involved 

Hooven Bog supports unique
plants such as this sphagnum
moss. (Photo courtesy of Bear
Creek Headwaters)
Whalen, a local resident and a founder and director of Bear Creek Headwaters, led a legal battle against county approval of residential development along the bog’s southern shore. He personally funded his appeal, which reached the state Court of Appeals. He also spearheaded an effort to raise public awareness of the ecological value of Hooven Bog and the environmental costs posed by the proposed development.

His efforts caught the attention of Deputy County Executive Mark Ericks. Ericks lost little time in assembling a funding package for the county to acquire and preserve the majority of Hooven Bog and adjoining forested lands to the south and west. The Snohomish County Council approved the plan on April 23, 2014. The county finalized the purchase that July. The property will be managed by Snohomish County Parks and Recreation as a natural area.

Bogs and fens

Part of Bear Creek’s headwaters emerge from the
bog and its surrounding forest. (Photo courtesy of 

Bear Creek Headwaters)
Bogs form over hundreds or thousands of years when plant matter decays and fills a lake bed, creating peat. Fens are similar, but can form in places where the water table is high and tend to have year-round flowing water. Both help release cool and clear water; each is home to unique plant and animal communities. The state Department of Natural Resources includes Hooven Bog in its Washington Natural Heritage Program as a high-quality undisturbed wetland that supports state threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant species. The bog is part of the headwaters of a major tributary to Bear Creek. In Redmond, about 11 miles south, Bear Creek joins the Sammamish River, which flows into Lake Washington.

High praise for superior efforts

Nominations for Environmental Excellence awards originate from Ecology staff, allowing them to recognize superior achievements that come to their attention. Northwest Regional Office wetland unit supervisor Paul Anderson garnered some outside testimonial support for his nomination of Whalen and Ericks:

Our honorees led efforts to preserve this rare  
bog environment as a publically owned natural area. 
(Photo courtesy of Bear Creek Headwaters)
“Hooven is the most diverse bog/fen system I have ever seen and I have seen a LOT of bogs,” said Sarah Cooke, a wetland scientist and independent consultant. “It is with confidence that I state that it is extremely rare to have such a diverse sphagnum bog/fen system, let alone one with intact mature forest in the urban/urbanizing corridor in the Puget Sound.”

“The bog is a critical piece of a much larger ecological system, and its health in turn supports the health of our regional water systems, plants and animals, and fish and aquatic species,” said County Executive Lovick. “Thanks to the dedication of Mr. Ericks and our community stakeholders, this site will remain in conservation so that future generations can enjoy its quiet and natural beauty.”

See more photos of Hooven Bog and the award recipients.

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