December 24, 2019

Seattle's Green Heroes

There is so much negative news these days that some might despair about human nature and our ability to work together to sustain our natural environment.

But there are a number of examples, hugely positive ones, of concerned citizens working together to improve the outdoor environment of Seattle and our region.     This blog will talk about one group of Seattle residents that have taken on the huge task of regenerating the parks and outdoor natural spaces of the city.  And I will even tell you about a mysterious fairyland you can visit.

All around the city, folks of all ages have joined the Green Seattle Partnership, with the goal of improving our green spaces.  They plant native trees and bushes, clear invasive species, get rid of debris and junk, and much more.  Often  really hard work.  Dirty work frequently.  But a big contribution to our community, and I know very satisfying to those involved.

An example of a very active area of such effort is along the heavily traveled Burke Gilman Trail, which is under the aegis of the Seattle Park's department.  Nearly every day there are volunteers working to get rid of the invasive blackberry bushes and other invaders (a very difficult task), replacing them with native plants supplied by the City of Seattle.  Below is an example of a major work party on Sunday on the trail near NE 90th street.  They had hundreds of plants to put in the ground. And the city of Seattle also supplies mountains of bark mulch protect the young plants from summer drying conditions.

Even today, Christmas Eve, two stalwarts (Dean and Reza) were hard at work.

The most committed become highly trained forest stewards, who can supervise others and plan improvements.  They also bring in students and classes to help with the work, where they learn about plants, soil, and fostering a healthy environment.  This is the true Green New Deal.  Sometimes the stewards have to contend with difficult situations that have nothing to do with plants-- they must deal with some of the homeless folks that now make their homes within our parks.

 The City to its great credit, gives these stewards substantial autonomy and independence.     Some of the things found during the renovations are quite interesting, including ancient beer bottles and reminders of the past railroad days.  As an aside, someone should write a book on the Burke Gilman Trail, which is perhaps one of the most successful rail to trail project in the country.

But now let me tell you about something magical.   One forest steward (Heather, a retired judge) has literally built an enchanted forest along the Burke Gilman trail around NE 90th St (just north of the little stream).  A series of trails, wooden bridges and entwined fences, and some wood Adirondack chairs for sitting.  But the most amazing thing is found where a huge tree had fallen.  A door is found entering the tree, with little gnomes all around (see below).

Open the door and you enter a different world.  I won't tell you the details.

But let's say, there are plenty of the little folks you see below.

You should see the faces of 3 or 4 year olds when they enter this fantasy domain, and folks of any age can appreciate the immense creativity and work by Heather that created this several acres wonderland.  Kudos to the City for allowing it.

So at this special  time of the year, with both Christmas and Chanukah overlapping, it is nice to pause to appreciate the altruism and environment commitment of some of our neighbors.  It gives one hope that in the end, our better natures can prevail.


  1. Check out the Komo 4 documentary about Seattle Dying and it isn't strictly limited to Seattle. I don't want to get booted so I won't say anymore just watch it on YouTube and while it may sound gloom and doom there are solutions towards the later half of the video.

  2. When I was in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts we regularly did clean ups of polluted rivers and parks. Anyone complaining about the current state of the environment should've been around back in the 60's and 70's - it was awful. Smog alerts and toxic trash everywhere. On every level our country has made great strides.

  3. Cliff,

    I see the stewards working regularly on the trail. It's a great that you recognized their good work today.

  4. Just to clarify- the piles aren't "bark mulch", they are mainly "arborist chips", aka chipped tree branches. Much better mulch for most trees than beauty bark and the like.

  5. Thanks for posting this positive story Cliff. It's encouraging to read about efforts like this.

  6. What Eric Blair said. Back in the day, trash was everywhere. A national campaign against littering brought people around, and stalwarts like Dean, Reza, and Heather have been improving things ever since. The future can look frightful, until you look back and see how far we've come.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

Is Mid-June Getting Warmer or Colder?

 As I will demonstrate below, this past week has been unusually cool around the region. But that leads to another question.... is mid-June g...