Meadowdale, Edmonds-Woodway HS students winners in Edmonds Marsh essay competition

Meadowdale student essay winners, from left: Taylor Bound, Olivia Sagvold, Kent Mayoya, Catherine Do, Mateo Kumasaka and Caroline Wills with Susan Paine, Save Our Marsh representative.

Six students from Meadowdale High School and one from Edmonds-Woodway were recently honored for their entries in the “Marsh Madness” essay competition sponsored by Edmonds organization Save Our Marsh.

Save Our Marsh member Susan Paine presented cash prizes ranging from $100 to $500 to the Meadowdale winners at their year-end awards assembly and told students, “We were thrilled to receive 24 impressive, well-researched essays from Meadowdale students. Your heartfelt and eloquent writing made it extremely difficult for the five judges!”  Edmonds-Woodway winner Grace Yockey received her award separately from Save Our Marsh member Kathleen Sears.

The purpose of the competition was to encourage young people to learn more about the Edmonds Marsh ecosystem. It was supported by Meadowdale environmental science and biology teacher Dianne Thompson. Students 18 and under were invited to participate.

$500 First Place Award: Olivia Sagvold, “The Marsh Matters”

The Edmonds Marsh is a key element for the growth and survival of marine wildlife in Puget Sound. The role it plays in the environment is crucial. Our marsh is one of the only saltwater estuaries left along the Puget Sound. It maintains important ecological functions and provides a habitat for many species including salmon, native plants, and over 200 species of birds.

We have to protect what we have now and expand. We can do this by informing others of what is going on with our Marsh. We can also help by voting for candidates that are environmentally responsible and willing to comply with our standing acts. The Growth Management Act requires that all cities in Washington must develop regulations that protect our endangered areas. Destroying this land will not only be going against our own act, but we will be destroying a sanctuary that does not even belong to us. It belongs to nature. Don’t you want your kids to have the chance to see the sea creatures and become fascinated? If we do not get a hold on this now, there may be no marine life for future generations to see.

$250 Second Place Award: Kent Mayoya, “The Legacy of the Edmonds Marsh”

The Edmonds Marsh is a hotspot of biological diversity, stemming from a rich history of over a thousand years, and is currently in the midst of a battle that will determine its future for its inhabitants, environment, and surrounding community.

The Marsh once coexisted with humans hundreds of years ago, helping and supporting the livelihood of the Coast Salish natives. And today, although the marsh’s scars are evident, we can help return the favor through allowing the marsh to return to its natural state, connected with Puget Sound. The circumstances the Edmonds Marsh finds itself today is unfortunate, but not hopeless.  It is our responsibility to help protect, preserve, and restore the marsh into what it once was. When this does occur, we do not leave empty-handed, but instead, we are able to enjoy the diversity of life the marsh offers, the services it provides for us, and we will always be reminded of the story and legacy of the Edmonds Marsh.

$100 Honorable Mention: Taylor Bound, “The Edmonds Marsh”

The Edmonds Marsh matters to all life, not just mine. It matters to a large variety of plants and animals, as well as human beings. Plants and animals rely on the safety of the marsh and the habitat it provides. The various species residing in the marsh also depend on each other for survival and sustainability within the entire ecological community. The marsh is important to people because it provides resources for food, education and entertainment. It is a symbol and a great example of life in a Pacific Northwest ecosystem. However, through the last 150 years, the marsh has gone through various changes that has led to the decline of the condition of the marsh, which affects everything that depends on it. Things like development, pollution and invasive species all take a toll on the overall conditions of a very important natural resource.

The City of Edmonds has been developing a plan to make the channels in and out of the marsh accessible to Chinook salmon. The Willow Creek daylighting project will ideally allow Chinook salmon to have a safe, sustainable spawning ground and will in turn help provide a steady source of food for the Orca Whales of the Pacific Northwest. The project involves revegetation and reconstruction of the channel which would improve water quality, maintain nutrients and sediments, and above all, open what has been blocked from the sound.

$100 Honorable Mention: Catherine Do, “The Importance of the Edmonds Marsh

Right by Anthony’s Beach Cafe is a natural hidden gem many people forget to appreciate. The Edmonds Marsh, located in downtown Edmonds, is one of the few saltwater estuaries left standing in the Puget Sound. It is crucial to our environment as a natural habitat for organisms, a key part in the ecosystem, and an ecological cornerstone. However, the sustainability of Edmonds Marsh is being threatened by pollutants and outside factors. The marsh is suffering from human effects and manmade consequences.

It may seem like there is nothing we can do to help make a difference in these issues of our environment that concern authorities bigger than us. However, the Edmonds Marsh is in our very own backyard and it is our duty to protect it.There are actions we can take in order to help save the Marsh. We can bring attention to the deterioration of its condition and the push to conserve and protect our hidden gem. If we can bring in more voices and more opinions, we will be able to make a real difference. Coming together as a community for a common goal can be very powerful. We can also reach out to government officials to have our voices heard about the importance of sustaining the Marsh.

$100 Honorable Mention: Mateo Kumasaka,“The Dilemma of a Biological Hotspot”

The exploitation of the Edmonds Marsh is ingrained deep into the history of Edmonds. Since the purchase and seizure of lands by George Brackett in 1870, there’s been a constant desire to drain, disrupt, and destruct the sensitive marsh. The original plot was over a hundred acres of natural marshland, but a serene fishing location for native people was quickly developed into what would be the predecessor of the modern Edmonds waterfront. The railway tracks were laid across the key exchange area of the marsh, where Puget Sound meets freshwater from local creeks. Unocal also placed their stake in the damage of the pristine. At a time when the environment was thought of as little more than financial opportunity, Unocal disregarded the fragile importance of the marsh and built a fuel terminal. This fuel terminal has unknown consequences to this day, with likely leakage of oil and other industrial compounds contaminating the water table. Unocal also diverted the natural freshwater inflow of the marsh, Willow Creek, and later created a tide gate blocking the inflow of saltwater. These two blockages in tandem greatly diminished the water circulation and exchange of the marsh and leading to the disappearance of the salmon population.

If the Edmonds Marsh is a success story, it would be a declaration to not only Edmonds, but to Washington that it’s possible to put the environment first.  Imagine the humble Edmonds Marsh being not just a memory, but a precedent for success, the jewel of Snohomish County, and the sanctuary of Puget Sound.

$100 Honorable Mention: Caroline Wills, “Don’t Be Harsh to the Edmonds Marsh!”

The Edmonds Marsh has become a shadow of its former self through past commercial expansion projects, harmful pollution from fuel storage, an asphalt plant, automobile emissions, and stormwater runoff. At this point in time the primary threats facing the Edmonds Marsh are obtrusion on the marsh and its buffer, contamination of toxins, damaged circulation and tidal exchange, and insufficient local vegetation.

Continued industrialization and urbanization throughout the 19thand 20thcenturies have turned the complex and diverse biomes of coastal wetlands into human wastelands.  With the accelerating rate of marshland loss occurring on a worldwide scale, action is necessary to preserve and protect these beautiful cultivated ecosystems from a local and global standpoint.

$100 Honorable Mention: Grace Yockey, “Save the Edmonds Marsh”

Grace Yockey

For Students Saving Salmon club monitoring, the marsh is one I visit fairly often. When I walk into the marsh in my heavy rain boots, monitor in hand, and look up, I feel at peace. It is the one place in Edmonds that is peaceful, with no human industrialization. The water level is low, and you hear after the train passes by, the buzzing of organisms with the occasional bird to fly overhead. I look up past the train tracks and see the place where my grandpa lived the rest of his life, and I feel welcomed. The marsh is more than a piece of land, but a place that represents the nature in Edmonds for those who reside here. The development of this land strips our community of one of the last untouched places and snatching a valuable place for organism life. The marsh being developed for money is not worth the environmental loss, and I hope the citizens of our tight-knit town can see this as well.

“From the moment I began my time in the community organization down at the hatchery, it’s been my passion to not only fix the marsh, but our earth. Start small they say- and our change starts here, in Edmonds, Washington.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *