Friday, June 14, 2013

Tapteal Greenway Needs Willowbrook's Help

Dear Willowbrook neighbors,

During the annual Willowbrook meeting last month there was a short presentation on behalf of Tapteal Greenway about a subject that all of you should be aware of as residents of Willowbrook. Tapteal Greenway has been a staunch supporter of conservation, education and recreation of the Lower Yakima Basin since 1995.  One of the areas they have strong ties to is Amon Basin/Amon Creek Natural Preserve, much of which lies directly behind (to the east of) Willowbrook.  Many of you have spent time in the area while walking your dogs, going to Claybell Park, jogging, birdwatching, photographing wildflowers or wildlife, or other activities. 

However, as Willowbrook residents and Tapteal Greenway board members, we feel it is critical that all of you know about and understand the current situation affecting the Preserve........over 300 homes are slated to cover most of the area in the not so distant future.  There is a file attached with detailed information about the development, but also what we as neighbors can do to help conserve at least a small part of the Hayden Homes property to protect and buffer the Preserve.  Please take the time to read through the file, and do not hesitate to contact any of us for further information. Amon Creek Natural Preserve is a wonderful natural amenity to Willowbrook that costs us nothing, but pays us back in rich rewards of year round wildlife, plants, recreation, and peacefulness that are all part of the shrub-steppe, wetland habitat.  We need your support!!

Thanks so much, 

Kathy Dechter, 627-3621 or 627-0950, 
Karen Sowers, 396-5936, 
Scott Woodward, President of Tapteal Greenway,

Hayden Homes to replace our backyard wildlands with housing developments

Despite an informal conservation agreement with Tapteal Greenway*, the landowner of the remaining shrub-steppe parcel in Amon Basin has decided to go forward with development of the 137 acres.  An existing real estate contract with Hayden Homes closes the door on much of the remaining habitat in Amon Basin and opens the door for a minimum of 335 homes, multiple multifamily units and commercial development. As a result, the fragile Amon Creek Natural Preserve** corridor will soon be surrounded by pavement and people (see graphic).

            Center Blvd. tie-in after the bulldozers (artist’s concept)

Scott Woodward, President of Tapteal Greenway, met with the regional development director for Hayden Homes recently.  Items of discussion included:
-       Hayden plans a minimum of 335 homes with no park or conservation areas. Woodward pointed out that Tapteal Greenway’s primary concern is protecting Amon Creek Natural Preserve with a buffer between the preserve and impending development.
-       Kennewick Irrigation District (KID) plans to eliminate any vegetation on the Amon east drainage that impedes restructuring the channel to protect homes built near that drainage. That restructuring will include lining the channel, resulting in a more ditch-like structure.
-       The Rachel Road extension will bridge the west fork of Amon Creek and cut through the existing preserve to connect with the Hayden Homes development and Steptoe Street. In June, The Richland Planning Commission voted to strike Rachel Road from the Transportation Improvement Plan.  That recommendation will go to the Richland City Council in June.
-       HH will determine how much money they will lose if they give up any of their property for a conservation buffer. Woodward will stay on top of that as well as the Rachel Road issue.
-       Google map of area:

Tapteal Greenway is developing a plan that may save a portion of the property to buffer the existing Amon Creek Natural Preserve. There are some options on the table, including Tapteal Greenway’s acquisition of the buffer area. This will require funding to purchase a sufficient buffer.

Please stand with Tapteal Greenway as we fight to conserve what we can of the last piece of wildlands left in the Tri-Cities. We have not given up on the concept; we just have to adjust our scale.  
Here’s what you can do:
·      Donate to help us purchase buffer acreage.  Any amount is welcome. Make checks payable to Tapteal Greenway; note “Amon” on memo line.
·      Join us when we issue a call to action. This will occur when Rachel Road is set on a Richland City Council agenda and when the Hayden Homes plat comes up for a public hearing. It will make an impression on Council if a significant number of people attend the hearing in support of these issues. You will not need to address Council unless you wish to do so; showing up is all that's necessary.  
·      Help spread the word to your friends and neighbors.
·      Call 627-3621 or 627-0950 or email if you can help.

“Conservation is hard; you have to win every day.  When the other side wins, you lose that battle forever.” – Scott Woodward

*Tapteal Greenway is a non-profit (501(c)(3) organization founded in 1995 to promote conservation, recreation, and education along the lower Yakima River.
**The Amon Creek Natural Preserve consists of 100+ acres of wetlands, riparian, and shrub-steppe along the west fork of Amon Creek east of Leslie Road in south Richland.  It is a natural wildlife and critical habitat corridor, home to beaver, river otter, jackrabbits, badger, coyotes, and more than 100 bird species. Zoned as Natural Open Space, Amon Creek Natural Preserve is the product of an ongoing community partnership that began in 2006 with private donations, community fund raising, state and federal grants, and the City of Richland investing to conserve threatened habitat and wildlife while providing non-motorized public access to the natural areas.


            “So where am I supposed to live now?”  --Jack R. Abbit