Among unstudied values of Capitol Lake are the dual recognitions that the lake is not only a strong positive influence on critically needed downtown commercial activity, it also encourages concentrated residential growth in and around our downtown core. The latter helps protect our outlying watersheds, farmlands, and other sensitive areas from sprawling development.
Ultimately, the greatest value of Capitol Lake may be that its urban population condensing effect delays human habitation of outlying sensitive areas, allowing more time for these treasures to be protected by our land trusts and farmland preservation groups.
Other positive effects of residential condensing and the lake itself, include increased walking, social cohesiveness, and reduced automotive carbon emissions, all benefitting community health. Our urban growth plan should reflect these benefits.
As if these aren’t enough, consider the following: With increasing clarity, it appears likely that Capitol Lake has little or no negative effects on biologic activity in Budd Inlet. Capitol Lake supports our healthy hatchery Chinook run, the largest bat colony in Washington state, river otters, thriving masses of freshwater aquatic insects, and a fabulous showcase of winter waterfowl. Unhealthy waters cannot do this for long, much less for six decades.
A quite small minority, devoted to naturalism, has dramatized Capitol Lake’s problems. But, realistically, these are technical infractions that are common, fixable or of little biological importance. Objectively, they are dwarfed by the splendid benefits the lake gives to the wellbeing of our human and natural communities.