Mukilteo set to save historic Japanese Gulch

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Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine

Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine and a representative of Metropolitan Creditors Trust have signed an agreement for the City of Mukilteo to purchase 98 acres within Japanese Gulch for $5.4 million dollars.

Located at the northeastern corner of the Mukilteo city limits, Japanese Gulch has a rich cultural history. For generations of Native Americans, the mouth of the Gulch has provided vital resources and quality of life. After Mukilteo Lumber Company (later Crown Lumber Company) was established in 1903, many Japanese immigrant workers lived there with their families, and it soon became known as Japanese Gulch.

The transaction is expected to be finalized within weeks, providing public access and permanent protection of the largest remaining privately owned portion of Japanese Gulch. It is the culmination of efforts going back to 1996 by Mukilteo, Snohomish County, the state of Washington, the Japanese Gulch Group, and the conservation group Forterra to assemble a protected area of over 144 acres. The property is among assets put into a court-ordered liquidation trust following the Metropolitan Mortgage bankruptcy. The area has been at risk of development as the economy has rebounded.

Funding for the purchase includes a $1 million appropriation from the State of Washington in recognition of the unique cultural heritage of the property, and $3.3 million in grant funds from the Snohomish County Conservation Futures program, with the remaining costs and capital funds being appropriated by the City of Mukilteo from park acquisition funds and real estate excise taxes.

The property features mature forests, steep ravines, wetlands, and wildlife habitat for a variety of species, including bald eagles, pileated woodpecker, and great blue heron. Nearly two miles of Japanese Gulch Creek provides habitat for coho salmon and searun cutthroat, running through fish-accessible culverts directly into Puget Sound. In addition, the Gulch harbors cultural legacies of both Native American and Japanese American residents of the area. (end)

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