City officials hope to turn former heron rookery into park
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
February 7, 2013 · 4:36 PM
Although downtown Redmond has been designated as an urban center, the City of Redmond is making an effort to ensure residents, workers and visitors will still be able to enjoy a fair amount of green space.
In addition to Downtown Park, which is still in its early development stages, city officials are working to turn a former heron rookery into a public park.
The 4.6-acres of land located just west of where Bear Creek Parkway and Leary Way Northeast intersect — across the street from the Redmond Saturday Market and southwest of Half Price Books — used to be the nesting site for a group of herons. This was about 10 years ago, but City of Redmond park operations supervisor Teresa Kluver said the birds moved. Herons relocate frequently and Kluver said they think this particular group moved to a location around Marymoor Park just outside of Redmond.
Kluver said the city didn’t want to do anything to disturb the downtown site while the herons were there, but now that they have vacated the area for about a decade, the city has begun restoration work. Redmond recently received a grant from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which funded a Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew to come out for three weeks at the end of last year to begin removing non-native invasive plants — primarily include blackberries, English ivy and English holly.
“They made a huge amount of headway,” Kluver said about how much work the WCC crew completed.
Kluver said these plants have “just taken over” the area. These non-native species grow over the native vegetation and are able to outcompete — whether that means blocking sunlight for other plants or growing up trees and as a result, breaking limbs. This causes problems for the local wildlife, which needs a more diverse ecological system to survive and thrive.
Currently, the invasive plants that have been removed are decomposing onsite on racks above the ground so they can’t reroot, Kluver said. She added that in addition to removing these plants, the WCC crew has unfortunately also removed a fair amount of garbage that has been thrown into the area.
The next step for the city is to do a health assessment of the remaining plants there and then take soil tests to figure out which plants will survive on the site.
Kluver said the city will also work with the Green Redmond Partnership to start an active stewardship of the forest and soon-to-be-official park. She said this is to get the downtown community energized and involved.
“It’s their forest,” Kluver said.
At the moment, no official restoration events have been planned but Kluver said they hope to have some things set for late spring and summer, adding that they should be doing some planting come fall of this year.
While many people refer to the site as the heron rookery, that is the site’s unofficial name.
Carolyn Hope, a senior park planner for the City of Redmond, said they began the naming process at this week’s Parks and Trails Commission meeting Thursday evening to discuss naming options for the park.
“If they need more time, we might extend it on to the next month,” she said, adding that the commission may ask for public input but it has not come to that yet.
Once the commission has decided on a name, they will make a recommendation to the City Council, who will make the final decision.
“It could take three or four months or so, depending on how many names are vetted and so forth,” Hope said about the naming process.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.