Trail Completion to Begin at Yesler Swamp

February 17th, 2016 by Donna McBain Evans
Trailhead, Yesler swamp

Trailhead, Yesler swamp

Shovels, picks and hammers will be brought out this month to forge the final section of the Yesler Swamp trail, a much-anticipated finale to years of planning and fundraising.

Yesler Swamp, the 6-acre wooded wetland along the eastern border of the Center for Urban Horticulture has captivated local citizens, restoration ecologists and leaders at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens for close to a decade.

“The Yesler swamp is a perfect outdoor laboratory where students can study, investigate and take their classroom learning into nature,” states Fred Hoyt, Associate Director of UW Botanic Gardens.

And because the area is one of the last remaining swamp ecosystems along the Lake Washington shoreline (a swamp is a wetland dominated by trees and other woody species), scientists are keen to remove remaining invasive species, restore a multilevel canopy and study the natural succession of this marvelous public open space.

Bird watcher at Yesler Swamp

Bird watcher at Yesler Swamp

Hoyt, along with UW professor and restoration ecologist Dr. Kern Ewing, and a dedicated citizen group —the Friends of Yesler Swamp — have brought this amazing project to fruition.  It took an array of donors—from the City of Seattle to King County and numerous individuals—to get it this far.   The Washington Conservation Corps will begin the estimated 8-week project finale at the end of February.  The Friends group also still needs to match $11,000 in donations for the final City grant.

Trail work on new ADA-accessible entry path to Yesler Swamp. Photo courtesy of Friends of Yesler Swamp

Trail work on new ADA-accessible entry path. Photo courtesy of Friends of Yesler Swamp

Part of the trail has been completed in the last few years, so one can now follow a sturdy boardwalk out to the lake’s edge.  Ewing notes that over 200 species of birds have been seen here and in the adjacent Union Bay Natural Area, as well as raccoon, turtle, beaver, coyote and heron.  Last December, crews completed an ADA accessible entry to the path; once this final section is completed it will be a loop trail encircling the entire swamp area.  Graduate students of Ewing continue to study the area, which he describes as a “fantastic outdoor laboratory.”

This is an incredible transformation of an area that was once a sawmill and lumber business for Seattle pioneer and two-time mayor, Henry Yesler.

“The great thing about completing this trail,” says Dr. Ewing enthusiastically, “is that it is really just the beginning.” 

Ewing has numerous plans for future scientific studies, watching the transformation over time:  recently planted western red cedars and Sitka spruce will eventually grow into mature trees, enriching the canopy and species diversity, native plants will take root and crowd out the invasives, and the site will eventually return to a near natural state.

Seminar: Reconstructing Natural Areas in the Built Environment

December 8th, 2015 by Jessica Farmer, Adult Education Supervisor
garden photo

Prairie rain garden, Center for Urban Horticulture

Reconstructing Natural Areas in the Built Environment:

Linking design, function, and long-term performance for natural areas, restoration sites, and trail sides

January 25 & 26, 2016
9:00 am-4:00 pm

University of Washington Botanic Gardens
Center for Urban Horticulture
3501 NE 41st St., Seattle, WA 98105

 

PROFESSIONAL CREDITS: CPH-6/day, ecoPRO-6/day, NALP/WALP-6/day, APLD-4.25/day, ASLA-5.5/day

 

RESOURCES FOR SEMINAR ATTENDEES:

Day One: January 25, 2016

Day Two: January 26, 2016

Additional Resources from Presenters and Attendees

What’s Going on Around the Burnt Tree?

March 12th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Andrew Fraser

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler's Pond

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler’s Pond

If you have walked around Shoveler’s Pond in the Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill) this month you have seen the area undergoing a flurry of activity from plowing to bulldozers moving dirt. This is all part of the ESRM 473 restoration project. Each winter quarter, students in the class design and implement a restoration project in the Union Bay Natural Area. Previous year projects have included mound construction and prairie plant installation around Shoveler’s Pond, trimming the willows and clearing up the area around the large central pond, wetland construction and prairie conversion of the E5 parking lot.

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Planting native grasses near Shoveler’s Pond.

This year is the first of a multi-year process of converting the non-native grassland of UBNA into that of the local South Puget Sound Prairies and Gary Oak Savannas. Students have selected, propagated and purchased a large quantity of plants and seeds of  native flora and have begun installing them this week. The goal of these projects is to help our native flora to get a leg up over the large number of non-native plants in the area and provide an easy view location of some of the beautiful local native grasses and wildflowers. Within the next two years, this year’s project site will change from an open gravel and sand patch to a prairie landscape covered with native grasses such as Idaho Fescue, Blue Wildrye, and Tufted Hairgrass with wildflowers such as Common Camas, White Fawn lily, Chocolate lilies, Prairie lupine, Scarlet Paint Brush, and Broad-leafed Shooting Start blooming in the area from Early Spring to Early Summer.

Please forgive our mess and come see the next stage of UBNA’s transformation from the Montlake Dump to a premier Seattle natural area.

Past and Present: Continuing the Tradition of Restoration in UBNA

February 17th, 2011 by Jake Milofsky - UBNA RA

Earlier this season as we were getting ready for a new quarter of restoration work in the Union Bay Natural Area, a friend supplied me with her wonderful collection of photographs from the 2004 planting of UBNA’s “blue tube forest”.  It was a pleasure to be given a look back in time to the beginning of this project, as I have only been familiar with UBNA for a mere 2 years.  During the 2004 project, students planted over 1,000 bare root trees into what was then a grassy field, mulched these new seedlings, and protected them with blue plastic planting tubes.  Today, as anyone who strolls along Wahkiakum Lane well knows, that area is certainly not a grassy field any more!

In addition to the planting, students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring the bald eagles back to UBNA; an effort whose success our birding friends can attest to.

Let’s have a look back to 2004:

(All 2004 photos courtesy of Katie Murphy)

Looking east from within the planting area

Looking north from within the planting area. The three mature trees just off of Wahkiakum Lane still provide good reference points for this image

Students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring bald eagles back to UBNA

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Walking through UBNA today, one notices many of these once tiny cherry, poplar, ash, willow, and alder seedlings have matured into healthy saplings, filling in the canopy of this new woodland.  In more recent years, the overall diversity has been increased with supplemental plantings of conifer species such as western red cedar and Douglas fir.

What a difference 7 years can make!

Unfortunately the woodland restoration plot has also been impacted by invasive Himalayan blackberry, which competes with the desired woodland species for important resources and threatens the overall health of this newly established ecosystem.  This invasion has been consistently managed over the years and will remain a perennial effort until the canopy is mature enough to cast shade over the blackberry plants, bringing them under a natural control.

Fortunately, UBNA has many friends in both the UW community and the general public who have given their time over the years to help nurture this newly established woodland, and 2011 has been no different!  During the winter quarter there have already been 3 volunteer work parties, with several more scheduled throughout the rest of the academic year.

UW students and members of the general public alike provide valuable volunteer support in the maintenance of UBNA's restoration sites.

If these efforts sound intriguing, you too can join the efforts to create healthy native ecosystems in the Union Bay Natural Area.  For info on upcoming volunteer work parties, have a look at the UWBG’s volunteer calendar and register for an upcoming event.  You’re guaranteed to leave feeling a sense of accomplishment, and you may even see a bald eagle!