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Community members will take care of the Duwamish River during Earth Month | April 13-19, 2022

Volunteers from across the Duwamish River watershed plan to come together to clean up trash, restore native plants, remove invasive species and learn how to better care for the area’s lands and waters on April 16. This is the first time the Duwamish Alive Coalition, an alliance of community members and organizations located in the Duwamish and Green River Valleys, will meet at full capacity after a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus.

The Earth Month day of action will begin with a welcoming ceremony in front of the Duwamish Longhouse in the village grounds of Hapus. Community members will receive indigenous plans and be invited to learn about the work being done to restore the ecosystem.

According to Sharon Leishman, director of the coalition, the volunteers will participate in a variety of activities, including removing litter from the riverbed on kayaks, restoring local wetlands, participating in guided nature walks and learning about the cultural significance of the river to the Duwamish Tribe and Coast Salish People.

“Having a healthy environment is not only critical to the health of our region, but also for community members who live in South Seattle and Tukwila,” Leishman said.

Leishman says environmental restoration is particularly important for low-income and underserved communities in the South End which often don’t have the same access to nature as more privileged parts of the city.

“A lot of community members don’t have the ability to get in the car and drive to national parks or state parks that are in the mountains,” Leishman said.

South Seattle and King County, including the Duwamish and Green River Valleys, have seen much environmental injustice and industrial pollution. According to a 2016 study by Puget Sound Sage and the University of Washington School of Public Health, South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by air pollution from diesel fuel from trucks and trucks. other vehicles.

Parts of the lower Duwamish River are considered one of the most polluted areas in the country, hosting a superfund site, a contaminated area that will require long-term mitigation efforts, as designated by Environmental Protection Agency. The Duwamish River Community Coalition (DRCC), a nonprofit committed to cleanup, protested an attempt by the federal government to scale back efforts to repair the damage in 2021.

In 2021, the Duwamish Alive Coalition organized a limited day of action due to COVID-19, including young people who participated in the kayak cleanup. DRCC Community Engagement and Communications Specialist Magdalena Angel-Cano said the opportunity to be on the kayaks was really important as it allowed young people from underrepresented communities to connect directly with nature .

“A lot of our people don’t know what restoration means. Many do not know how to kayak. Many have never been in the water and have seen the river from the inside,” Angel-Cano said.

In addition to the restoration work, Duwamish Alive will also celebrate the recent awarding of a $220 million federal grant to install a fish passage in the Howard A. Hanson Dam, located on the Green River. Leishman says the passage will dramatically expand salmon habitat, restoring hundreds of acres of spawning grounds upstream.

“The Duwamish River is unique in that we have all five species of salmon in the river, including the Chinook, which is really important to our killer whale,” Leishman said in a 2021 interview.

Guy is Real Change’s staff reporter. Seattleite, he studied at UW. Guy’s writings have been featured in The Stranger and the South Seattle Emerald. Outside of work, Guy enjoys spending his time organizing justice, rock climbing and playing chess.

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