Video: Touring the Duwamish River – “Yes, it’s a river”

February 16, 2010 2:35 am
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 |   Environment | West Seattle news | West Seattle video

Monday in Olympia, supporters of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition were among those joining environmental and education advocates who rallied to raise concerns about the state budget (as explained here, with rally photos here). While DRCC is an advocacy group that also makes the rounds of neighborhood groups and festivals), much of their awareness-raising happens on the river itself. “Yes, it is a river,” as group leaders reminded during a recent tour. They pointed out the good, the bad, and the ugly – perhaps the best example of the former, the wildlife in our video above that’s found a way to co-exist with the industrial development: Two eagles (our video shows one) perched on the heavy equipment atop a barge. The river tour co-sponsored by ARCADE was meant to highlight the “built environment” as well as nature – ahead, more of the sights in both categories:

The boat was the Admiral Pete – which you might remember for its years of service as the Elliott Bay Water Taxi. WIth perhaps 50 people on board, it sailed on a rainy afternoon from the Harbor Island Marina to the end of the major navigable stretch, at Hamm Creek. Near the barge where the eagles held court in our first clip, an island – literally – of somewhat natural river habitat, Kellogg Island – DRCC’s Cari Simson can be heard explaining in narration:

In dramatic contrast, the industrial development along the shore – like metal recycling, rough and loud:

Of all the types of industry visible you can see along the Duwamish’s shores as you sail down the middle, metal recycling seems the most dramatic – huge piles of cars, of appliances, of other types of scrap metal, cranes working the piles relentlessly. Our video shows work at Seattle Iron and Metals, whose website notes its facility (map) “is built on 9.5 acres of 10-inch thick concrete” to protect against contamination.

The steel you see along the Duwamish also includes thousands of tons still in service, like the bridges that framed two sections of the tour, as the Admiral Pete sailed beneath the two drawbridges on the Seattle section of the Duwamish. While we hear a lot about the South Park Bridge, the 1st Avenue South Bridge quietly does its work:

The northbound side of this state-owned bridge is 40-some years older than the southbound side, rebuilt in the mid-’90s, the side we sailed toward in the video. As we continued sailing along, Simson’s narration also called attention to what might otherwise be missed – like pipes carrying runoff that she said came from Boeing Field:

Back to the revival of nature, we saw pockets of habitat restoration here and there, like this little beach on the eastern shore:

Lest you think it’s all nature or industry, nothing inbetween – homes, too, grace the Duwamish’s banks:

But for the five miles running south of the West Seattle Bridge, the industrial sites dominate – a few of the companies Simson pointed out: Lafarge:

Seafreeze:

And yacht-building Delta Marine:

DRCC plans more boat tours through the spring and summer – this one wasn’t a regularly scheduled event, but you can watch their website at duwamishcleanup.org for information on others, possibly starting up around April. They also plan more kayak tours, in tandem with West Seattle’s Alki Kayak Tours. And they hope that once you have gotten to know the river better, you will more closely watch the ongoing process of review and cleanup – not just the Superfund cleanup, but also the personal involvement of cleanups like Duwamish Alive, coming up April 17th (more info here).

SPEAKING OF CLEANUP: We’ve brought you the story of Neal Chism, who patrols a stretch of the Duwamish near the West Seattle Bridge, fishing debris from the water, picking it up off beaches. His story has been picked up by local TV journalists – and the next to air is on Seattle Channel‘s City Stream program, this Thursday. Click here for a “sneak peek” segment.

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