GRANITE FALLS — A no-name marsh somewhere near Granite Falls could soon have a tie-in to a local legend.
If approved, the eight-acre marsh would be named after Andy Holland, an Everett Community College teacher and fire lookout who taught generations of people to pursue forestry.
His nephew, Chuck Holland, had the idea to name the wetland Holland Marsh. He inherited some of the surrounding forest from his uncle and maintains it to this day as a tree farm, a few miles south of Granite Falls.
“This is part of my idea to a legacy,” he said. “A legacy to Andy, and all he’s done for others.”
The proposal is before the state Department of Natural Resources Committee on Geographic Names. At a meeting April 26, the committee will decide whether to recommend the name to the department’s Board on Geographic Names. Then, if all goes well, the board will transmit the proposed name to the feds.
One might view the quest to name this marsh as peculiar. There’s no easy public access, and no way to see it, unless perhaps you are a bird or have a drone.
That doesn’t diminish its importance, Chuck Holland argued. It’s “so vital to the Pilchuck River watershed,” he said. It’s part of the Natural Resources forest riparian easement program, he said, meaning he can’t do anything with the wetlands without state approval, and vice versa.
“As often happens with tree farms, there’s special places like this marsh, which have no public access or visibility,” Chuck Holland said.
During visits, Chuck Holland said, he has had to bushwhack his way to the marsh with a machete. The pond is framed by a “forest cathedral” of old growth, he said. A stream runs through and dumps into a nearby lake. Salmon use the marsh, as do beavers.
As the marsh has risen and fallen, trees have died, fallen, and become snags that provide yet more habitat.
Chuck Holland said the marsh — and all the creatures that take advantage of it — should be left undisturbed.
Andy Holland led a storied life. Born in 1910 to Norwegian immigrants, he grew up on a chicken farm on Vashon Island. He lost his parents and his brother early in life, leaving him and his two remaining siblings to fend for themselves — going to school and selling eggs from about a thousand chickens.
He studied forestry at both Washington State University and the University of Washington. He was a starting pitcher for the Huskies baseball team and befriended local legend Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson.
Andy Holland spent his summers working as a fire lookout, eventually writing a memoir titled, “Switchbacks.”
In 1938, he taught and coached baseball at Tieton High School, south of Ellensburg. A few years later, he and his wife, Dolly, joined the staff of Everett Junior College, where he taught math, botany and forestry. There he inspired countless students.
When they retired, he and his wife moved to Lopez Island. She died in 1993.
Andy Holland spent his final days in senior housing in Anacortes. Friends, family and folks from the island often stopped to see him, his nephew said.
“He was like a filling station,” Chuck Holland said. “He was a very astute listener. … He could live his life like he did before through people’s experiences, by listening.”
“In turn, those people became nurtured,” he continued. “You always went away feeling better than when you arrived.”
Andy Holland died in February 2008 at the age of 97.
One of the people he inspired was his nephew.
“I’ve always had an interest in forestry,” Chuck Holland said. “… Some people like to take down trees, I like to plant them. He saw that in me, and said why don’t you have the tree farm?”
Talking about his uncle, Chuck Holland still gets choked up.
“People like that, you never get over,” he said. “They’re always with you.”
Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @zachariahtb.