Sometimes it feels as if we have no control over things as big as preserving natural areas (let alone climate change). If you look around your neighborhood it most likely has changed quite a bit, whether it be new multi-story houses appearing on your block, a large apartment complex down the street, or an area of vacant property adorned with loud machinery erecting the latest shopping opportunity. Aside from becoming a Seattle Nature Alliance member, are you wondering what you can do to preserve what little green space is left in Seattle? How you might you take action on an urgent issue, make a contribution (however small) to the natural places we live and love in the city? We have listed a few ways below:
Take Action is where we have a list of current, time sensitive issues in need of your attention NOW.
Other ways to make a difference
Write a Letter / Make a Phone Call / Go To a Meeting
The Mayor & Seattle City Council
You elected these people to work for you! They have lots of important things on their plates – all vying for their attention. Make sure preserving Parks and Natural Areas is one of them.
The Council is the lawmaking body of the city, and is composed of nine members who are elected to represent the values of the citizens of Seattle. The Council is responsible for approving the city’s annual budget and for all legislation related to police, fire, parks, libraries, and electric, water and utilities. Council Members include: Sally Bagshaw (District 7), Tim Burgess (District 8), Lorena González (Citywide-Position 9), Bruce Harrell (District 2), Lisa Herbold (District 1), Rob Johnson (District 4), Debora Juarez (District 5, Heads Parks Committee), Mike O’Brien, (District 6)and Kshama Sawant (District 3).
Oh and don’t forget about Mayor Ed Murray.
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Ave. 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Although we have pointed out some shortcomings with regard to Seattle Parks & Recreation in the past – having a strong recreational bias, planning large projects in isolation before getting community input, reclassifying existing parks to potentially open up natural areas for more recreational development, not always following their own best practices/polices in caring for natural areas in the city – the Park staff members are all public servants, and we believe should care about what the citizens of Seattle have to say.
We also know a lot of great people working on behalf of the Parks that care strongly about nature and do not want to see the work they have done to restore natural areas be for nothing.
If you can’t attend a meeting and there is an issue of concern, consider writing a letter and sending it to Parks Board – which ‘weighs equally to public testimony’.
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Avenue, 2nd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
Seattle Board of Park Commissioners
The Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen advisory board, serving three-year terms. The composition of the Board is:
- Four members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council
- Four members appointed by City Council
- One member appointed from the Get Engaged Program
Currently serving: Marty Bluewater, Tom Byers, Dennis Cook, Evan Hundley, William Lowe, Kelly McCaffrey Michael Padilla and Barbara Wright More info about the board…
Issues on Hold
Proposed Supplemental Use Guidelines
Parks proposed Supplemental Use Guidelines for Natural Areas and Greenspaces (if you haven’t heard about it check out our blog posts to catch you up on the all the details…). Here is the first version. Here is the second version. We still urge you to reject the proposed guidelines in there current state. Although comments are technically closed, if you have not already done so we urge you to sign the petition , as your signature and comments are still going to the decision makers.
According to the Seattle Parks board website:
The Supplemental Use Guidelines are on hold.
Version 3 of the Natural Area and Greenbelt Supplemental Use Guidelines incorporates many of the comments we heard from the public. Continued refinement of the Guidelines has been postponed until the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2016.
So although not a victory, the collective voice opposing the guidelines did cause the Parks Board to take note and pause. It is important to continue to stay on top of what is going on, and when the new guidelines emerge in 2016 , to review and evaluate it again for how it might impact the natural areas/greenspace in the city. Parks has acknowledged some confusion about this policy and clarify in their FAQs.
Contact Info for Parks Board business (outside of the meetings):
Board of Park Commissioners
100 Dexter Ave. N.
Seattle, Washington 98109
Park District Oversight Committee
The District Oversight Committee (DOC) is a newly formed community board that will provide advice to the Mayor, City Council, and Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, related to the Seattle Park District.
District Oversight Committee
100 Dexter Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109
For DOC business, please contact Shanyanika Burton
Urban Forestry Commission
In 2009 the Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) was established to advise the Mayor and City Council concerning policies and regulations governing the protection, management, and conservation of trees and vegetation in the City of Seattle. The UFC is composed of nine members, four appointed by the Mayor, four appointed by City Council, and the ninth member is elected by the eight commissioners. Current UFC Roster
The City of Seattle set the goal of achieving 30% tree canopy cover by 2037 to increase the environmental, social, and economic benefits trees bring to Seattle residents.
Seattle Urban Forest Stewardship Plan (UFSP). For more information see Seattle reLeaf
Relevant read: Great letter written to the UFC by Cass Turnbull, Founder/President of Plant Amnesty and TreePAC, emphasizing the important priorities for the UFC to keep in mind as they reassess the Seattle Urban Forest Stewardship Plan (UFSP).
Sandra Pinto de Bader, Urban Forestry Commission Coordinator
Office of Sustainability and Environment
City of Seattle
700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2748
P.O. Box 94729
Seattle, WA 98124-4729
Making Sure your Vote is GREEN
TreePAC, a political action committee whose mission is “to influence the government to protect, maintain and increase the urban forest” was very active during the 2015 city council elections in trying to assure candidates were aware of the need to preserve greenspace in the city amidst all the development.
TreePAC has also been vocal about the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan and the proposed reduction of the tree canopy goals from 40% to 30%.
Not satisfied with settling for the existing space dedicated to natural areas? Go on the offensive with Seattle Greenspaces Coalition. Their mission is to ” re-purpose City property as parks, green spaces, or for other uses consistent with the City’s environmental goals.” They are actively working on acquiring substations. They are working on a green land trust for the Seattle. Read more about it here…
For the past two plus years many groups throughout the city have worked to preserve Myers Parcels, the last large property in Seattle that could be preserved as a green space and potentially developed as a Park. After originally proposing to sell the land off to developers, we are happy to report that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has reversed his decision to sell Myers Parcels. First reported by the West Seattle blog.
The Seattle Nature Alliance is very grateful that the Mayor had the courage to do the right thing and reverse his decision. Many thanks to everyone who signed the petition, wrote to the Mayor or to the City Council. Thanks for the individuals & organizations across the city who tirelessly worked on this issue, especially Cass Turnbull, Mary Fleck, Seattle Greenspaces Coalition and TreePac. A special thanks to Council member Lisa Herbold who took the time to really engage and listen to the community. Many thanks to great reporting by Crosscut and InvestigateWest, the Seattle Times, KUOW, KPLU, and of course, our own West Seattle Blog.
If you want to help out in this effort, please contact:
Seattle Green Spaces Coalition
4511 50th Ave SW Seattle WA 98116
Has Development Booms, Seattle Gives Up on Greenspace
Highland Park Asks City to Delay Decision on the Sale of Myers Parcels
Preliminary Recommendations on Sale of Myers Parcels
32 acres of land on Myers Way subject of meeting to save it
Write an Op-Ed for a Local Publication
If you feel deeply about something, have been thinking about it for awhile and want to share consider submitting it so others can be enlightened.
Make a News Reporters Day
If you have a compelling story related to urban nature and want to bring it to the public’s attention consider contacting a media news outlet with a story idea or facts which may intice a journalist to dig deeper.
Get Your Hands Dirty/Wet – Become a Park Volunteer or a Beach Naturalist
Urban forests give wildlife a place to live, and give human beings a better quality of life through better air quality, reduced storm water runoff and erosion, and improved health by being able to be in nature. Green Seattle Partnership is working on restoration projects in parks and natural areas throughout the city to eradicate invasive plants and restore native species. Can’t dig in the dirt anymore? Give one of the volunteer groups near you a call and find out what else you can do to contribute that involves less physical work. Seattle Aquarium’s
Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist program is a great way to learn about the Puget Sound beaches and help educate the public about the importance of protecting them.
Model Good Behavior
Keep dogs on leash and scoop da poop
We love dogs! But we know that one dog off leash in an area with nesting birds, is one dog too many. Take your dog to an off leash area in Seattle or on an adventure to Marymoor Park. When you are not in an off leash area, please keep your dog on a leash. And while we are on the subject, protect water quality and scoop the poop.
Mind your manners around marine mammals
If you are walking on the beach where a marine mammal is present, report it to the Seal Sitters. If you encounter an area already cordoned off by a seal sitter, please acknowledge it by walking around and do not disturb the seal. Or if interested become a Seal Sitter volunteer.
Being a Good Neighbor to Nature Begins at Home
Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary – Participate in the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program.
Are you a gardener? You may be interested in reading about:
Report Illegal Dumping and Tree Removals (under ‘other ‘ category) through Find It, Fix It Mobile App
Small Business Owner? Become an EnviroStar
Stay Connected & Support Organizations Advocating for Natural Areas
I Love Seattle – Environmental / Sustainability – up to date listing of all the great organizations working in our region.
Got an idea about how to help? We would love to hear from you.