In our quest to be good stewards of place during out lifetime, we must take time to look at the big picture growing on around us. Sometimes the hard work we put in to protect a space can have a much larger impact, especially for those living down stream. EEC Forest Stewardship is at the beginning of Weiss Creek, less than a mile from the start of this salmon bearing stream. There is already a strong invasion of Japanese knot-weed, but our overall water quality is great. By the time this stream reaches The Snoqualmie River, about nine winding miles down between Novelty and Stillwater Hill, there is some sediment in the water, and a growing wetland has formed.
Weiss Creek is important fish habitat, but also feeds a crucial wildlife sanctuary to the south of rout 203, a very active highway between Monroe (Rt. 2) and Fall City (I-90). This buffer of wetland is called Stillwater Natural Area. It plays host to part of the Snoqualmie Trail, a well used walking, biking, and riding path in the river valley. Snovalley Tilth, a local community farmers’ network, has an experimental farming project for young farmers to the north (right in the picture below) of the mouth of Weiss Creek. This area is also where the salmon are spawning.
The actions of people living up stream will determine the long term viability of both the wildlife, and agricultural viability in the valley. Only properties in red along Weiss Creek, pictured below, have long lasting protections for the wetlands and stream habitats on their properties. There are some county, state, and federal protections all land owners are subject to, but the oversight is minimal. This lack of attention allows for great abuse of the landscape, and much of the time, the damage is caused in ignorance. Clearing logs from the creek, allowing horses and cattle into the stream as part of pasture use, and even clearing a hillside above to open up a view, all these actions have detrimental consequences for Weiss Creek, and those living down stream.
You might not think your single action has much effect, but the detriment adds up, especially in fast developing landscapes, like The Snoqualmie Valley. During flood season, seasonal runoff from the surrounding hillsides has become toxic due to spreading housing developments and heavy traffic on small two lane roads running both sides of The Snoqualmie River, up into the nearby ridges. All the above ground crops on picturesque farms across this historical agriculture valley are contaminated when flood waters come. Laws passed a few years ago to prohibit the sale of flood contaminated crops in Snoqualmie Valley. The contamination in the water comes from all the new development. Every individual home owner flushing bleach cleaning products, machine solvents, and a cascade of endless consumer goods which are not biodegradable pollute our watershed, and the problem is growing as fast as the housing projects.
Careless practices regarding the natural world will haunt humanity for generations to come. You may not think your one act will cause great harm, but the little pricks add up. These tires were recently dumped into The Stillwater Naturalist area where Weiss Creek empties into The Snoqualmie River. Someone didn’t want to pay the $5/tire disposal cost to have the tires “recycled”. A lot of people in rural places just bury them or use them as embankment holds. The problem with this is slow, long term leaching of hazardous chemicals into the environment. This is why tier dealers ask you to bring in your old ones to be “recycled”. I use “” because the recycling usually puts the chemical rubber from the tiers right back out into the environment in a shredded form, accelerating chemical pollution.
A few links which explain tire toxicity-
Mother nature has provided us with a lot of bio-technology to help clean up our experimental industrial hazards, but we have to want to utilize them, and become wiser about pollution. Mushrooms can neutralize almost any harmful chemical, it just takes time. Organic chemistry is amazing, and our quest to find coal and oil, could evolve very easily into a quest for closed loop organic composting and biodegradable fuel sources. There is a lot of new technology forming around a greener planet, but our old habits die hard.