Opinion

Gazzam Lake’s protection is healthy for community | Our Opinion | Feb. 3

The current effort to secure the sanctity of the Gazzam Lake Preserve (see page A1) is another example of the community’s determination to safeguard from development some of the island’s most unique and valuable woodland environments. Along with the recent purchase of the 31-acre Hilltop property, it’s clear that a majority of islanders understand the significance of locking up large parcels of land in perpetuity.

Why? Primarily because if that stance isn’t taken, development will chip away at the public land until its wildlife habitat is no longer healthy. What happened at Gazzam is that more than 30 acres of land bordering the preserve was in private ownership for the purpose of developing some 15 homes. Nothing could be done about that, but a paved road was part of the deal and it would have completely altered the pristine environment.

Fortunately, the owners of the private property yielded for one reason or another and agreed to sell the land to the public.  If the deal is consummated in April, it will protect a pivotal aquifer and a large habitat that can be found nowhere else within a 12-mile radius of the Seattle area.

Sizable second-growth forested areas have been gradually depleted during the last couple of decades. Now, only Gazzam Lake, the Grand Forest parcels (connected now by Hilltop) and the publicly restricted IslandWood properties contain contiguous wildlife habitats. But the importance of the latter two pale dramatically to the 444-acre Gazzam property.

Its southwest location is a habitat blessing because it is isolated from much of the island and also borders Puget Sound.

Correction

The correct call number for volunteering with Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers is  842-5551, not the one listed in the Jan. 20 IVC column by Dick Goff.

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