Submitted by Gregory Alderete, Steilacoom.
“Loveless said that Alderete’s efforts are misguided and accuses him of distorting reality while blatantly ignoring the threat of residential flooding. If park visitors keep their dogs on a leash — as they’re supposed to — and stay out of the marsh — which he views as common sense — the traps posed no risk to humans or pets, Loveless said.“
In March of 2020, I knew a little about beaver and wetlands having grown up on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin. I am not new to the culture of trapping and hunting, there it’s a way of life. Long before Mr. Loveless was hired as the town administrator, I was on my third of multiple combat tours. As a Special Operations Officer, I prepared numerous classified briefings and position papers, with facts, not opinions, to senior Army leadership. In 2014 after 37 years of service to our country I retired. I’m not wired for hyperbole, exaggeration, or feckless opinion. Mr. Loveless maybe we should compare experiences to get a baseline understanding of what you think is “distorted reality.”
I want to revisit the issue of killing the beaver. Sadly it remains an unresolved concern, but quickly became more of a back story as word spread about unmarked lethal traps. So, what is the overarching issue then?
Discovering that then-Mayor Lucas and Paul Loveless decided without any subject matter expertise, informing the town council, and most importantly the citizens of the town of Steilacoom that he approved large dangerous kill traps feet (length of a dog’s leash) off the public trails. The kill traps were scented with Beaver Castor, an odorous oil that attracts beaver and dogs. The deliberate obfuscation and closely guarded payment of $1000 to the trapper could have been dedicated to a more permanent and humane solution.
When this dangerous issue was presented to the mayor, he demonstrated only concern for the property of the trapper, not the safety of his citizens, their children, pets, or the wildlife these heinous traps kill indiscriminately. Not a single word of public safety. Let that sink in. I’ll wait.
Loveless opined about the improbable compromise of a dam assessed by the Washington States Department of Fish and Wildlife as structurally sound posing no imminent risk of failure. I live 329 feet above Puget Sound. I don’t have flood insurance but if I lived in what was once a wetland (lower Steilacoom) with outdated, ineffective drainage culverts in a flood plain, I certainly would.
“Common sense” would dictate you alert park visitors of any danger within the park. Even a casual observer in the park can observe visitors picking huckleberry, blackberry, and edible mushrooms and numerous bird watchers…off the trails. Visitors are allowed the freedom of unrestricted movement throughout the entire marsh.
If Mr. Loveless thinks water in someone’s basement is a liability, then I strongly recommend he explore with legal counsel, as I have, the costly liability and public relations nightmare the town of Steilacoom would get if anyone’s child or pet was injured or killed. Do you think a jury would side with Loveless as he explained that they should have “stayed on the trails” and used “common sense”. Common sense is usually not a personal attribute of children, ask any emergency room doctor.
If my efforts are “misguided” then so are those of many subject matter experts who over the last year have provided the Town advice which was summarily ignored. Not one recommended killing the beaver. All, without exception, recommended the generally accepted solution of installing a pond leveler. Mr. Loveless has never provided a factual counterargument just disdain and ridicule of Steilacoom residents trying to advocate conservancy and public safety.
I am hopeful the candidates in the mayoral elections in Steilacoom will be supportive of protecting and preserving the crown jewel of Steilacoom, the Farrell’s Marsh. If not, there will be a counter-campaign against them by voting residents who support protecting and preserving the marsh from callus, ignorant, and indifferent bureaucrats.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.