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A few of my favorite Federal Way things, part 9

By Chris Carrel, guest columnist

This is my back-to-nature edition, with a little more of the natural side of the community.

51. Hylebos Creek. I haven’t mentioned this yet? Unbelievable. Of course, this is part of my everyday work at Friends of the Hylebos, conserving and restoring our local salmon stream.

Hylebos Creek is Federal Way to me. As early as I can remember, I was playing around (and in) the stream. It’s where I first saw wild salmon — and I couldn’t believe that the huge coho spawners I saw actually belonged in my city. When I was growing up, Hylebos was one of the most productive small salmon streams in the Central Puget Sound Region. Much of the remaining stream, wetland, forest habitat and native wildlfie in our area is centered around Hylebos. The Friends and thousands of locals are working to protect and restore it.

52. Bingaman Pond. This is a little known, but beautiful little bog wetlands in unincorporated King County near Thomas Jefferson High School.

A former World War II-era cranberry bog, the county bought it and preserved it in the 1990s. Its trail takes park visitors along the bog and Bingaman Pond and through a second-growth forest that is remarkably healthy despite the intensive suburban development around it.

How did this jewel come to be preserved? It was one of the first projects Pete von Reichbauer took on when he joined the King County Council, responding to the requests of local residents like Lyle Lindblad.

53. Friends of the Hylebos. I guess I’ve got to put a plug in for my group, while still trying to be objective. If you want to hold on to the important and beloved green spaces in your community, you need a group that focuses those efforts, and that’s what Friends of the Hylebos does.

Our big project, the Hylebos Creek Conservation Initiative, will create an unprecedented open space corridor along Hylebos Creek, from the West Hylebos Wetlands to the Hylebos Waterway. That’s good for the community and for the native salmon, birds and other wildlife.

54. Rainier Audubon. This is another group that’s been working on the local environment for years, providing environmental awareness, birding and other nature trips in the South King County area.

Rainier Audubon Society volunteers are also often on the front line, volunteering in hands-on projects and participating in shaping local environmental policy.

55. Mt. Rainier. Sure, it’s not in Federal Way, but there are many vistas of our region’s totemic volcano that are absolutely astounding.

56. Wildlife. Due to the relatively large areas of habitat left in Federal Way, we still have interesting native wildlife here that enrich our community.

No, I’m not counting the suburban wildlife like coyotes, possums and crows. I’ve personally seen deer, beaver, river otters, Douglas squirrels, short-tailed weasels and foxes. If we hold on to the natural places on this list, and others like them, we can perhaps keep wildlife a part of our growing community.

57. Bald eagles. Several times I’ve had the surprise of having a bald eagle fly past one of my windows at home, or roost in a tree in our neighborhood. There is a pair that nests in nearby Poverty Bay Park.

These majestic, powerful birds are an amazing sight to behold. Once endangered, they are making a comeback and learning to tolerate areas where humans are. We’re lucky to have several of these iconic great birds live in Federal Way.

58. Dash Point Park. I can remember when Dash Point was the only park in Federal Way. We now have many parks to choose from, but this 398-acre park with more than 3,000 feet of shoreline and a forest trail to explore is still one of the best. There’s a lot to choose from here, including one of the few urban camping options available.

59. The Capital One Bog. Not its real name; in fact, it probably doesn’t have a name, but there is an ancient bog (bogs are formed on the timescale of thousands of years) squeezed between the northbound I-5/S. 320th offramp and the former Capital One building. You wouldn’t know it’s there, and it’s almost impossible to find. But this ancient garden of bog laurel and labrador tea and snowy white lichens survives improbably amidst the surrounding concrete and traffic, standing as a testament to the natural wetland wonders that once dominated this part of South King County.

60. Thais Bock. This former piano teacher has forgotten more about birds than I will ever know. Thais has been a longtime Rainier Audubon Society volunteer (and Friends activist) who has been very active in teaching countless residents about local bird species and working to protect important bird habitats like Dumas Bay and the West Hylebos Wetlands.

Chris Carrel is a lifelong Federal Way resident and executive director of the Friends of the Hylebos, a nonprofit conservation organization working to preserve and restore Hylebos Creek and the West Hylebos Wetlands. Chris can be contacted at chinook@hylebos.org or (253) 874-2005. This series originated at Chris’ Hylebos blog at http://hylebos.typepad.com. The Friends Web site is www.hylebos.org.

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