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Hylebos Day pays homage to city’s hidden jewel

(From left) State Rep. Mark Miloscia, State Sen. Tracey Eide, Federal Way Mayor Jack Dovey, King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer and State Rep. Skip Priest cut a Himalayan Blackberry branch May 3 at the West Hylebos Wetlands Park. - Photos by Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
(From left) State Rep. Mark Miloscia, State Sen. Tracey Eide, Federal Way Mayor Jack Dovey, King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer and State Rep. Skip Priest cut a Himalayan Blackberry branch May 3 at the West Hylebos Wetlands Park.
— image credit: Photos by Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

An official grand opening ceremony for the West Hylebos Wetlands Park highlighted one of Federal Way’s natural treasures.

Held May 3 amid light afternoon rain, the ceremony included remarks by local lawmakers as well as the dedication of a plaque to Friends of the Hylebos founders Francis and Ilene Marckx.

The ceremony ended with the re-opening of the boardwalk by cutting a Himalayan Blackberry “ribbon.” The plant is an invasive species that volunteers spend countless hours removing from the area.

In other Hylebos news, Friends of the Hylebos received a Land Stewardship Award on May 1 from the Cascade Land Conservancy.

The award is “for a conservation project that involves a unique or non-traditional collaboration between entities,” according to a news release. “This award celebrates the cooperation and persistence required to overcome obstacles and preserve land that is important to a community.”

The award recognizes the Federal Way-based organization’s Hylebos Creek Conservation Initiative, an effort to preserve and restore 745 acres and 10 miles of Hylebos Creek.

The Friends of the Hylebos and its partners have successfully preserved more than 425 acres of the Hylebos Initiative area and are actively restoring these lands.

With the help of more than 1,300 volunteers in the past eight years, the Friends has planted more than 80,000 trees in the urban Hylebos Watershed, according to a news release.

Comments from local lawmakers

• King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer: “Some communities come together to recognize tall buildings or monuments. We come together to recognize what Mother Nature gave us and how to restore and retain this beautiful Hylebos, not just for this generation, but for the next generation.”

• State Sen. Tracey Eide spoke fondly of the wetlands as well as Francis and Ilene Marckx: “It’s the hidden jewel of Federal Way.”

• State Rep. Mark Miloscia praised the ongoing volunteer efforts over the years to make the park a better place: “It’s an entire ecosystem we’re building here, and it’s the future.”

• State Rep. Skip Priest noted the significance of the Land Stewardship Award that Friends of the Hylebos received. He also thanked the volunteers who attended the ceremony Saturday: “The beauty of this is there have been so many volunteers here before us.”

• Federal Way Mayor Jack Dovey said the wetlands reflect the city’s commitment to a better quality of life: “We’re fortunate we had people who had foresight and knew what was here.”

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