Everyone here should be very proud. You truly are part of something very special. Not very often do government, community, the press and individual citizens all come together and accomplish something. Not something vague either but something real something tangible. These trees, this dirt, the countless shrubs and plants, the birds of all types and sizes, the animals, the insects that all live here are very real. See them, touch them, smell the blossoms in the air, feel the mud squishing beneath your feet, hear the sound of the stream rushing down the hill. This little slice of land where Native Americans once hunted and foraged, where Japanese millworkers lived, where some of our ancestors harvested timber and fished is now ours forever.
There are many people to thank for obtaining and preserving this land forever for public recreational use. I will not name the individuals but you know who you are. As for the major players Japanese Gulch was able to be purchased because of Snohomish County and in particular the Conservation Futures Board. The state of Washington and the extra efforts of certain state legislators and senators. The City of Mukilteo and the efforts of past and present council members, mayors, and other city officials. Forterra helped make this happen with professional negotiating, organizing and consulting. At the heart of all of these efforts and I believe the driving force behind this purchase were individual citizens. We banded together and organized through the Japanese Gulch Group in order to amplify our voices and be heard and we were loud! (at least I know I was!)
Japanese Gulch Group isn’t me, it isn’t our board, it isn’t a website it is all of the people that have helped over the years. It is our founders who wandered these woods and were shocked when they realized this forest could be bulldozed and developed. It is the countless people who have worked on trails, picked up garbage, removed invasive species, built bridges, signs, shelters. The hundreds of people that have contributed time, effort and money to secure this land. People who have organized events, taken photos, written letters to politicians, to the press. People who have door-belled and set up booths at events. People who have set up nature walks, fun runs, kid’s events. People who have explained Japanese gulch time and time again, who have given directions, who have biked here, hiked here, walked their dogs here. The list goes on and on. Japanese Gulch Group is you and me it is everyone that cares about this land and was and is willing to do something about it.
We are standing here today at the edge of a forest that will forever be a monument to all of us who cared. Who cared enough to do something about it. Who cared enough to band together with our fellow citizens, politicians and the press. This forest will now stand forever as a monument to these efforts.
As Margaret Mead once said;
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.