Guest Opinion: Trees in Eastsound Swale Essential to Good Development and how one woman worked to preserve essential open spaces

— by Sadie Bailey —

I really appreciate the thought that went into Charlie Carver’s Letter to the Editor on March 6 (see ).Thank you for caring about Eastsound; so few Orcas people understand what we are up against here.

I would add one thing to your concerns that’s important to note. Behind the Outlook Inn, and on much of the Outlook’s land, is – or WAS –the Eastsound Swale – and there is precious little left of it, due to the development that has already happened there with the previous expansions. Without tree buffer, any and all pollutants, silt intrusion, and runoff are going to end up in Fishing Bay.

I’m dismayed and disappointed in EPRC’s continuing pushing of development in Eastsound, and the lack of understanding or disregard for anything except maximum development, while not taking the time and care to research the importance of intact watersheds and important wetlands such as Eastsound Swale. We are asking this small land mass area — one mile wide — to support a massive amount of growth, while taking down forests and mature trees and expecting that there won’t be wind and stormwater problems. Wrong! I beseech EPRC members to educate themselves on these matters, and truly represent us by protecting our environment in the UGA – ever more important, the increased development it’s being asked to sustain.

I encourage everyone who calls themselves a “planner” or a “visionary” to educate themselves on what happens when you develop a place to such extent that the trees — needed to support all that impervious surface — aren’t there to do their job.

I would like to bring the presentation by Cass Turnbull, founder of the non-profit organization Plant Amnesty to a Town Hall meeting and have a discussion following, so that people understand what we’re doing, and find another way than destroying Eastsound. You can see her 30-minute presentation “No Place for Old Trees” on youtube at (part one, 30 minutes).  Watch all of Cass Turnbull’s series on youtube, “No Place for Old Trees.” (four parts)

To read the series of articles on the importance of trees and open spaces, go to Plant Amnesty,

Cass Turnbull was a tireless advocate of why trees are important to save, in this age of rampant development. She died suddenly on January 27 – a great loss to us all.

Journalist Peggy Sturdivant wrote in a tribute to this regional activist, “In addition to founding and promoting Plant Amnesty Cass [Turnbull] started an independent political action committee, TreePac, to lobby for the public value of trees. Even during her busiest pruning season she was willing to spend evenings and weekends working on behalf of the Boards of Seattle Green Spaces Coalition Board, Plant Amnesty and TreePac. She showed up everywhere that trees and green spaces were on the agenda, or should be. Organizations all over the region are reeling as they learn the news. If trees are sentient they know they’ve lost their greatest protector, their mother bear.

“Cass had many big ideas and one of her recent ones, through TreePac, was to treat green space as a public utility, establishing tree banks to counteract pollution and reduce the environmental hazards of overbuilding, such as urban flooding, poor air quality, heat island effect. She knew her metrics cold, the percentage of Seattle that is currently impermeable/paved (64%) and was outraged that open space planning goals are being decreased even though they weren’t attained with less density. “We are not meeting our quantitative public open space goals now. We aren’t making any more green spaces. Solving one temporary problem now by creating a permanent one for the future is unwise policy.”

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Guest Opinion: Trees in Eastsound Swale Essential to Good Development and how one woman worked to preserve essential open spaces — 4 Comments

  1. If anyone is interested in a public viewing and discussion event, I would love to bring Cass Turnbull’s series, “No Place for Old Trees,” to Orcas Island. Please let me know.

    We could have thoughtful discussion afterward, that would hopefully lead to an action plan for our UGA(s) to be presented to the public and County for consensus. Perhaps each island would be interested in bringing this to their people. All 3 or our UGAs are geographically situated to affect at least some of our shorelines and the Salish Sea -but none more than Eastsound.

  2. Yes, these are elephants in the room, I agree with you both. To place all the infrastructure in one highly vulnerable locale (Eastsound) and Then! to ruin its potential sustainability by ignoring or ruining its means of filtration & the essential role of trees — is a fool’s errand. With which many have cooperated.

    I too call upon EPRC the County and All of us to truly represent the basic ecosystem needs of our island as Primary. The shoreline, the Salish Sea, the air and water & animals, all so much more important than individual agendas!

  3. Here is an interesting question which really has nothing to do with the above comments.
    How many current residents know where Lovers Lane is?
    It was not the County road on which we drive toward the airport.
    According to Sally Gibson Seagrave, a since passed member of an old island family, Lovers Lane was a trail along the edge of the swale from the airport to the shoreline with Eastsound Bay. In decades long past, there were dance platforms in the woods where the young members of the village would gather to play music and dance. Sally was not specific about the nature of those parties though she surely knew enough to have been there.
    I remembered again this morning what she had told me as I gave thought to the many recent comments about what Eastsound should be like going into the future when so few of the many, many folks who have moved here since Sally’s heyday know so little about what life on Orcas was like during those time so long ago.

  4. I’m with you Sadie and Susan! I worked with Dorothy Austin when she was trying to educate the Islanders as to just What making Eastsound an Urban Growth Area would mean, but, people wouldn’t listen to the science; rather, they listened to the realtors and developers with the result: degradation of our Precious Natural World in Eastsound. Know that under the GMA an Urban Growth Area Must have Build-out. This is the mind-set at play here. Dorothy’s Environmental Attorney told the people in a packed Orcas Center Meeting that with an Urban Growth Area designation, “Build-out would be mandatory.” Every Parcel
    would have to to be used.
    S. Eagle