Governor Gregoire Visits Burien’s Rain Gardens and Seahurst Park

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Washington Governor Chris Gregoire was in Burien this past Wednesday (Jul. 18) as part of a whirlwind tour around the state looking at projects aimed at improving the environmental health of the Puget Sound.

The projects are part of an initiative kicked-off in 2007 with the creation of the Puget Sound Partnership, a state agency tasked with ensuring a “swimmable, fishable, diggable” Puget Sound by 2020.

“Not only is the Puget Sound a treasure that I want to make sure my grandchildren and their children enjoy, it’s critical to Washington state’s economic success,” Gregoire said. “The Puget Sound helps drive $20 billion of economic activity in our state — including tourism, fishing and international trade. It’s the source of tens of thousands of jobs for Washingtonians. We have no choice but to protect and restore this incredible resource. Today’s tour proves that the Puget Sound Partnership, together with its partners, is making solid progress. But I also know that this is just a start. Our work needs to continue.”

The Governor’s tour started in Hood Canal with a briefing of potential projects that could be funded by the “in lieu fee” mitigation program that will offset the impacts of bridge and dock construction. The first example is money becoming available through a new explosives-handling wharf being built by the Navy.

Her next stop was Samish Bay where she met with local officials, tribal members, farmers and shellfish growers to discuss efforts to ensure clean water for shellfish beds. She also walked the beach and harvested clams and oysters at Taylor Shellfish.

Wrapping up the day-long tour, the Governor made two stops in Burien, her first to visit a cluster of rain gardens along SW 150th Street.

The eight gardens along this street are designed to help reduce local flooding and filter pollutants out of run-off before the water rejoins local streams and the Puget Sound. The gardens consist of low areas in the landscape where run-off can pool, that are populated by native plants that don’t mind marshy conditions to grown in.

Installation of the Burien rain gardens was completed in April 2011. Stewardship Partners — part of the group responsible for the Burien gardens — is working with WSU on an initiative to create 12,000 rain gardens in the Puget Sound area by 2016.

The Governor’s final stop of the day was at Seahurst Park, where she toured the restored south shoreline and learned about plans to remove the bulkhead along the north shoreline and restore the beach habitat.

The upcoming shoreline project is a partnership between the city and the Army Corp of Engineers and Washington State Fish and Wildlife.

Seahurst Park will be closed to the public from October 2012 until May 2013, with only limited access to upper trails available to pedestrians.

During this period the existing playground will be moved closer to the lower parking lot and new picnic shelters will be constructed. As much of the north bulkhead will be removed as funds permit.

Governor Gregoire completed her visit to Seahurst Park with a tour of the new Environmental Science Center that opened last year in the renovated caretaker’s cottage.

At the ESC the Governor met a group of students from Highline’s New Start High School working on a six week project to build and maintain trails in the park and then talked to kids from the YETI Club visiting the ESC to learn about beach habitat.

BTB photographer Michael Brunk joined the Burien portion of the Governor’s tour and shot the following gallery of photos. You can click individual thumbnails to view high-resolution images.

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