July 12, 2001
Knitting a trail of green
By CURT WARBER
For thousands of years, rivers and streams have guided the settlement of the Bear Creek Basin, beginning with Native American communities and later with the development of Redmond and neighboring King County. Over the years, developments have filled in around green spaces and sensitive areas. The Bear & Evans Creek Trail & Greenway project has been slowly knitting together remnant green spaces to develop a connected, coherent corridor for habitat, recreation and heritage preservation.
For the Bear & Evans Creek Trail & Greenway in Redmond, this process has been gaining momentum for nearly 25 years. Begun as a vision of a trail system following Bear Creek, the project has grown to include the preservation and enhancement of natural systems adjacent to the creek and its associated wetlands. Although a trail is the central “spine” of the corridor, the ongoing project is a good example of the truism that trails are really about what they pass through, not just a strip of asphalt.
What was originally envisioned as a narrow right-of-way paralleling an urban stream system, the Bear & Evans Creek Trail has evolved to have a much broader perspective. The project emphasizes habitat protection and restoration, transportation connections, appropriate recreational activities and substantial greenway space. Currently, the 3.5-mile trail alignment ranges from open fields and wetlands to crossings of some of Redmond’s highest volume roads. The trail will eventually provide critical connections to other area trails and several major city parks including Farrel-McWhirter Park, Johnson Park, Avondale Park and the Conrad Olson Farm.
Taking gradual steps toward its project objectives, the city of Redmond began making land acquisitions along the corridor about eight years ago. To date, it has acquired just over 50 acres of public property, in addition to obtaining numerous trail easements from local developers.
Because the trail passes through a diverse and sensitive natural landscape, the greatest challenge has been to build jurisdiction, agency and public support. Parametrix, along with its partner, Sahale LLC, have worked with the city over the past three years on a feasibility study that addresses the key environmental and engineering issues involved in implementing the project goals. Specifically, acquiring trail access, ensuring continuous trail connections to major urban settings, providing opportunities for environmental education and protecting and restoring habitat. Additionally, the study has incorporated an intensive public involvement and comment process to build consensus.
“The Bear & Evans Creek Trail will provide a permanent green space in a growing part of the community,” says Linda Gorremans, parks planner with the city of Redmond. “It will include pedestrian, bicycle, wheelchair and equestrian access, while protecting the natural habitat of the corridor.”
With the feasibility study now complete, the project is entering the early design phase. The entire trail system may take another 10 years before it is fully built. Careful planning, however, will ensure that the natural beauty, recreational attractions and habitats of the Bear & Evans Creek corridor will be enhanced and preserved for enjoyment by generations to come.
Curt Warber manages the landscape architecture group at Parametrix.
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