Although largely unknown, Miller Peninsula State Park is considered by many to be a crown jewel of the state park system, boasting long beaches with spectacular views and almost 2,000 acres of contiguous forest dotted with many wetlands.
Since early 2021, our community partners have been concerned about proposed changes to the plan for the cleanup of the Duwamish River that was finalized in 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their Record of Decision (ROD). As our partners work to understand the implications of the proposed changes, the UW SRP Community Engagement and Research Translation Cores have been providing technical support to help interpret the science underlying the proposed actions.
This year marked the 15th anniversary of the Duwamish River Festival, an outdoor event organized by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC) to bring together communities in South Park and Georgetown to celebrate the cleanup of the Lower Duwamish Waterway and the revitalization of its adjacent communities.
This summer, the UW SRP traveled to Kellogg, Idaho to visit with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and community partners at the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. Community Engagement Manager BJ Cummings was accompanied by toxicologist Dr. Steve Gilbert from the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, and UW Communications Leadership Program intern Sukai Gaye. The team toured the epicenter of the Superfund site and several repositories along the Coeur d’Alene River where wastes from the site are stored.
Back in 2012, Cassie Cohen was working for Groundwork Portland when she noticed two problems with the planning process for cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. First, some of the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) were dominating the narratives about the cleanup with intensive media and public relations campaigns. Second, no community group seemed to be taking the lead on organizing the disproportionately impacted communities living in proximity to the polluted river.
BJ Cummings and her 2020 book, The River That Made Seattle: A Human and Environmental History of the Duwamish, were awarded the Virginia Marie Folkins Award for outstanding historical publication by the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO) in a virtual awards ceremony in May.
On May 4th, UW SRP’s Community Engagement Manager, BJ Cummings, moderated a panel titled "Community-Led Partnerships for Environmental Justice in the Duwamish Valley." The event was hosted by the UW’s EarthLab as part of their 2020-21 Environmental Justice Salon Series and featured speakers from the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and Port Community Action Team, as well as the Director of Seattle Public Utilities, Mami Hara.
UW SRP co-hosted the 12th annual Summit of the Northwest Toxic Communities Coalition (NWTCC) in May. NWTCC is a long-standing community partner of the UW SRP. The organization works to empower communities impacted by toxic waste by sharing resources, information and support for cleanup efforts throughout the northwest states (EPA’s Region 10).
In the fall of 2020, our partner community group, Juntos Podemos Ciudar Nuestro Rio Duwamish (Juntos), held a series of three webinars for fishers in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Khmer using videos that we helped create to teach how to safely and legally catch and prepare salmon from the Duwamish River. Because salmon spend only a small portion of their life in the Duwamish River, they are the safest fish to eat from the polluted waterway.
For decades, public spaces along Seattle's Duwamish River have had names with numerical subjects like "Terminal 105 Park" and "Turning Basin #3." These names align with the Lower Duwamish Waterway's identity as an industrialized and polluted Superfund Site, but ignore the river's cultural and spiritual significance to the Salish peoples and downplay the vision that drives current efforts at clean-up and ecological restoration.