Keeping Redmond green: City, residents work hard to preserve the environment

When people talk about things that make Redmond special, its attention to preserving the environment is "always at the top and one of the main reasons people want to be here," Jon Spangler, manager of the City of Redmond's natural resources division, said at the Redmond Senior Center's First Friday Coffee Chat on June 4.

Redmond Senior Center advisory committee member Ray Anspach (left) listens as City of Redmond natural resources manager Jon Spangler describes how the city protects local streams and wildlife during the senior center's First Friday Coffee Chat on June 4.

When people talk about things that make Redmond special, its attention to preserving the environment is “always at the top and one of the main reasons people want to be here,” Jon Spangler, manager of the City of Redmond’s natural resources division, said at the Redmond Senior Center’s First Friday Coffee Chat on June 4.

“Some of the best examples are right outside this building,” Spangler pointed out.

Not far from the senior center and Redmond City Hall, along the Sammamish River, pedestrians and bicyclists are seeing more and more wildlife, including otters, minks, beavers and herons, because of efforts initiated in the mid-1990s to restore some curves in the river and replant vegetation removed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s.

Protecting wildlife here in Redmond has a bigger purpose, Spangler explained. Local waterways connect to Lake Washington and then to Puget Sound.

So the actions we take in Redmond, good or bad, affect the environment on a much larger scale.

Spangler noted that most people don’t think so much about pollution until, for example, winter snow gets very dirty.

“That pollution is there all the time. You don’t always see it,” he said.

It comes from leaking motor oil, brake dust, pet waste, leaking septic systems or trash tossed out of car windows. And it’s more visible in developed areas for a couple of reasons. There’s more traffic there, but also “when you pave over large areas, water runs faster than on soil. We try to slow the rate by planting vegetation,” said Spangler.

This is why Redmond’s growth is being concentrated in its two urban centers, Downtown and Overlake — and why the city works hard to educate residents and businesses about practices to prevent and reduce water pollution.

“It is easier to prevent pollution than to get it out,” said Spangler.

Citizens are asked to decrease the use of chemicals on lawns and gardens, to take their cars to commercial car washes rather than washing cars at home and not to dump oil into drains.

“We have a mostly educated, caring population,” Spangler stated. “We reach out to let people know best practices and offer constructive tips. … Most people don’t want to be a source of pollution.”

An excellent resource is the “Puget Sound Starts Here” Web site. The City of Redmond is part of this campaign to help citizens keep our water clean and safe. Visit http://www.pugetsoundstartshere.org

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