NO “New Uses” in Seattle Natural Areas

We oppose the Parks Department’s Supplemental Use Guidelines, including their latest version of changes, which includes new language.

Is the latest version of Parks’ policy change any more palatable?


This is why:

  • We should preserve these areas for the future as they were preserved for us.

Parks is inviting new use proposals for natural areas. The clear intent of this is to open Natural Areas to new modes of active sports and nature-based recreation, such as mountain-biking, cyclocross, canopy ziplining, tree-surfing, and whatever else may come along in this ever-changing area of sport-fads. This threatens habitat, but also our remnant Urban Wild—these are “people-refuges” as much as they are wildlife refuges.

  • Misleading language

Parks states: “If the purpose of the proposed use can be met at an alternative location, then a location in a Natural Area should be a last resort”. This misleads us into thinking that alternative locations will be offered up. They won’t be. New modes of “Nature-based” recreation are the sole reason for these Guidelines in the first place. By definition, “nature-based” activities are designed to be done in nature, and that is what the proponents will claim they need. Mountain-biking is meant to be done in forests, canopy ziplines need a forest canopy, tree-surfing has to be done on trees, etc.

  • Yes, this IS a policy change

Parks claims that their latest revision “will not supersede adopted ordinances or policies”. But, inviting new active uses into Natural Areas does just that. If you read the original 1993 policy, it is clear these places were never meant for active modes of sports. They were meant for passive use, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem services.

  • Making Natural Areas Double as Transportation Routes?

The Checklist is promoting connecting trails within Natural Areas to the Bicycle Master Plan. This puts Natural Areas in danger of becoming used as commuting routes rather than for visiting the Natural Area itself. Bicycle routes will require separate trail systems in order to not cause danger to pedestrians, doubling the impact on the Natural Area.

  • Community support… (from which community?)

Parks states that they won’t do anything without “community support”. But, as we learned from the Cheasty Bike Park project, this inevitably pits neighbor against neighbor. The group that ultimately wins is the one with the loudest voices, the most organized support, the most sponsors, or the most political influence. It is inequitable and a poor way to plan.

Read more about why we oppose this plan…

If you agree, please help!

Tell them to reject New Uses for Natural Areas and Greenspaces.

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