Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary is an oasis teeming with life

  • By Mike Benbow Special to The Herald
  • Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:33pm
  • Life

Drive by a shopping center or an industrial park from the past few decades and you’ll likely see one: a postage-stamp-sized pond behind a chain-link fence.

The tiny ponds don’t look like much, and they don’t do much for wildlife, either. But that’s what regulations used to require developers to do when they filled in a wet area with dirt and concrete.

These days, there are wetland banks where developers can buy a piece of a larger, functional wetland outside the boundaries of their property.

The first such bank in Snohomish County, Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary was created in 1993 to replace wetlands destroyed at Paine Field by a new runway. The airport teamed with manufacturers and private landowners to create a 48-acre engineered wetland down the road in an Everett industrial center.

The project was controversial at the time, but it was studied for years and deemed to be functioning well. Narbeck isn’t something you would expect to find in an industrial area.

It teems with wildlife large and small, from the occasional deer, beaver or rabbit to a wide variety of birds and insects, all visible from a half-mile boardwalk through the heart of the wetland or on a longer walk along a perimeter trail.

The boardwalk has occasional side trails, benches and interpretive signs to explain how the wetland was created and how it works.

Narbeck was difficult to visit earlier this year because workers at the nearby Boeing Co. were leaving their cars in the small parking area and then walking down the street to work.

The county closed the park for a cleanup in March.

Since it reopened, officials have been more aggressive about issuing tickets to violators of the three-hour parking limit, so the problem appears to be solved for now. If anything, the beautiful park is underused.

That said, if you want to visit Narbeck, don’t go on a weekday during the lunch hour. The sanctuary gets quite a lot of traffic during the noon break from workers at Boeing and at Fluke Manufacturing just across the street.

While Narbeck is a great place for a walk or a run, I think its true value is in the peace and serenity it provides in a stroll through the wetland or its surrounding forest. So you’re better off visiting when local workers aren’t rushing through for their daily exercise.

I went several times late last month and was amazed at the things you can see if you walk slowly or sit for a while on one of the many well-placed benches.

I took my camera and a macro lens to get some closeups of critters most people tend to overlook or ignore. Mostly there were a lot of dragonflies, damselflies and frogs, with the occasional snake.

  • See more creatures from the Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary in our photo gallery.

It reminded me a lot of a wetland and woods at the end of the street where I grew up. That’s where I spent most of my time as a kid, collecting a variety of specimens that I kept in jars or aquariums.

The big difference was I didn’t come home from Narbeck with any garter snakes or frogs in my pocket, just pictures of them.

If you go

Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary

6921 Seaway Blvd., Everett

Hours: 7 a.m. to dusk

Cost: Free

Facilities: Restrooms, picnic tables, benches

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

These eight dogs are waiting for loving homes

Meet Rex, Izzy, Poem, Patrick, Lorraine, Izze, Ivy and Charlie Brown.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Most Read