Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tribe and neighbors united to restore First Creek

By John Larson
For Puyallup Tribal News
Published on: November 27, 2008

Tribe and neighbors united to restore First Creek

A name of a place can convey an image or paint a picture with words. To David Whited, the appropriate name for the stream that runs along the East Side of Tacoma and feeds into the Puyallup River is First Creek. It has been called a lot of other things – Clay Creek, Lister Gulch, ‘T’ Street Gulch – but calling it by a proper name will restore water quality as well as the neighborhood’s image as far as David Whited is concerned.

A grant writer and planner with Puyallup Tribe, David Whited is the point person for the tribal government in an ambitious, cooperative effort to restore the watershed. Some of the work has begun, with the Tribe, the city of Tacoma and neighborhood groups getting together to clear out debris and chase away criminal elements.

Martin Stoaks, right, and Guy Thompson inspect a homeless camp they found while walking along First Creek Nov. 24th

Long ago Puyallup Indians had a village along First Creek. Part of it runs on reservation land, near Emerald Queen Casino.

David Whited discussed the creek’s past, present and future during Tacoma City Council’s Environment and Public Works Committee meeting Nov. 18.

At one point this was a stream with salmon. Over many decades it was managed into a series of culverts. Along the way it acquired various names. It is Clay Creek on some maps, although David Whited said no one calls it that. Most people use various names that end with gulch.

Tacoma City Council passed a resolution Nov. 18 approving the city’s involvement in developing a stewardship plan for the watershed.

City Councilmember Rick Talbert, who represents the East Side, said the two governments have collaborated on some environmental efforts. But he sees this as moving into a deeper level of interaction. He has often called for such interaction in his seven years on the council. “I do not think we can continue to talk about having that collaboration,” he said. “We need to dig in our heels and get to work.”

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