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Help Preserve A Unique Urban Forest
5 Acre Woods, an urban forest with trails, a conservation project and education site, accessible to all ages
As the population of Puget Sound continues to grow, many urban forests are disappearing due to increased development pressure. Deep within the heart of Lake Forest Park lies a rare opportunity to save one of the last remnants of mature second-growth forest. The Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation (LFPSF) if strongly advocating the City of Lake Forest Park to purchase 5.6 acres of undeveloped property to preserve it as an urban forest and restoring the property to its native state, with walking trails and interpretive signage. The property is an old remnant forest and the largest undeveloped site in the City of Lake Forest Park. The property includes steep slopes, a stream, riparian wetland, and hillside seep wetlands. Based on current best estimates, over ninety percent of the property is critical areas and their buffers. The stream is a tributary of Lyon Creek, a salmon spawning and rearing stream. The property is habitat for a variety of mammals such as coyotes, foxes, deer, raccoons, mountain beavers, and many species of birds and is part of a much needed wildlife corridor.
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) acquired the land for a reservoir site forty years ago, but used an alternative site. Having determined the property to be in excess, the City of Seattle must place it on the market. The LFPSF proposes that the City acquires the property to retain it for use as a conservation area and public park.
A Unique Urban Forest
The area proposed for acquisition is land surplussed by the City of Seattle Public Utilities. It is the last remaining undeveloped forest of this size in Lake Forest Park, 5.6 acres (outlined in red, NE ¼ of SW ¼ Section 03, Township 26N, Range 04E., W.M.).
Seattle Public Utilities purchased these two parcels for a potential reservoir site in 1975. Ultimately the reservoir was placed elsewhere and this 5.6 acres of mature second growth forest has sat untended and largely unnoticed for over 40 years. It contains steep slopes, a stream, riparian wetland, and hillside seep wetlands. The stream is too small to bear fish, but this and similar ones in adjacent ravines, are the source of the cool clean spring water and provides significant habitat, and clean waters tributary to Lyons Creek.
Urban canopy is considered one of the best indicators of environmental health. The property contains large second growth trees and dense foliage that serve as a natural habitat to many species of vertebrates and invertebrates. Western Red Cedar, Big-leaf Maple, Douglas Fir, Madrone, Western White Pine, Spruce, and Vine Maple exist on this site. Tree sizes are generally 24-36 inches, and the canopy is nearly closed. Although the ground and tree trunks are heavily infested with English Ivy, there is a well-developed understory of native plants including Indian Plum, Huckleberry, Salmonberry, Salal, Sword Fern and Bracken Fern.
Keeping this site densely wooded will also mitigate the “Heat Island Effect” of nearby cities; typically the area temperature is 5 degrees cooler than Seattle and Edmonds. In addition, a parcel of forest this size can provide a significant amount of carbon sequestration according to studies investigating mitigation of climate change on local urban areas (McPherson et al. “Coastal Plain Community Tree Guide: Benefits, Costs and Strategic Planting. USDA. (2006).
LFPSF believes that the best use of this land is the preservation of the forest and gradual restoration of the understory and riparian zone, through a coalition of dedicated volunteers who are already committed to the project. The property is upstream from one of our elementary schools, and would be an excellent outdoor education resource. We propose to develop and implement a plan for public use of this park over the short-term, and sustain a long-term native plant restoration program.
Our vision is to develop the Five Acre Woods into an all-ages / all-access outdoor recreation area. We see upgrading the existing gravel roadside (where people park now) into an ADA-compliant parking area, the construction of low impact trails with interpretive signage and wildlife viewing platforms, the construction of a “Tot Lot” play area for our youngest citizens, and preservation of the remains of the Leonard home, which was one of the first residences built in Lake Forest Park. The historic foundation will serve as a focal point for education about early native sustainable use of the land, logging practices, and changing attitudes toward nature over time.
This is an ideal site for a park, including both natural passive and active recreation elements. The site includes stream, wetland, steep slopes as well as some flat areas, and an existing small gravel parking area along the street. Uses could include:
- Playground for small children and gathering space for classes and activities
- Hiking loop trail to view (but avoid impact to) riparian area / wetlands.
- Educational signs informing the public about the forest and riparian areas
- Restoration and replanting of native NW Pacific plants and trees
- Historical/Cultural significance of Leonard Family Homestead and native presence, early LFP logging and settlers
- Environmental educational opportunity for area school children / outdoor classroom about the importance of trees, the life cycle of salmon, and the hydrology of wetlands and streams
- Community development through coordinated volunteer activities restoring native plants and implementing subsequent grants
The wetland is functioning well but the riparian zone is badly degraded with invasive plants. Even some of the older trees are in jeopardy from heavy English Ivy infestations. Invasive plant removal, modeled on LFPSF’s successful volunteer activities in Grace Cole Nature Park, is a part of long-term restoration plan.
Partnerships and Restoration
We have a well-established, broad based coalition of stewards with experience in just this kind of project, enthusiastically committed to working with the City for this park. LFPSF is eager to work with the city to organize volunteer work parties to remove ivy and other invasive vegetation from this site, and plant native trees where forest functions could be improved. This organization will continue to help maintain this new conservation area in the long term.
Tree planting parties, coordinated by the City’s Lake Forest Park, and supported by LFPSF typically draw substantial numbers of volunteers, and will be used to restore parts of the forest deemed in need. The City’s arborist has already begun working with LFPSF in surveying the trees of the property.
Other supportive partners include, among others: Lake Forest Park Stream Keepers, Adopt a Stream and the Audubon Society, Plant Amnesty, Seattle Coalition for Green Spaces, Bastyr University, and the elementary schools of Lake Forest Park. Additionally, a program at Shoreline High School will be aimed at helping senior students fulfill a 60-hour community service requirement on restoration of this site, and there is interest from other students from nearby schools and the Boy Scouts to contribute environmental restoration efforts.
The Stewardship Foundation and Friends of 5 Acre Woods throughout the community , has spearheaded grant writing and fundraising activities to assist the City in acquiring this 5.6 acres of forest currently owned by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). SPU plans to sell the property later this year. We encourage strongly the City to engage SPU in obtaining more time to secure the funding for the project. Community support is also critical for the success of the campaign. It is the last remaining mature forest of this size in our watershed, and dangerously nearby to the some of the larger clearcutting/development activities this summer.
How you can help!
Sign the letter of support for 5 Acre Woods. We are present in the community during fairs, and farmer’s markets – stop by for a chat, and sign our letter
Keep informed! Click here to receive 5AW Newsletters and updates
Offer volunteer hours
Like our Facebook page Friends of 5 Acre Woods.
Voice Your Support at City Council Meetings and with Council Members
Please voice your steady support of 5 Acre Woods, and ask the City for more commitment and engagement with Seattle Public Utility for more time to acquire funding. Here is how you can help your voice be heard:
Commenting on the project at City Council meetings the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 7pm. Consider attending the whole meeting as the Council also discuss issues pertaining green space in LFP and might even discuss 5 Acre Woods at the end of their session. Read this city link on how to provide public comments. You can provide a written copy of your comments. If you do, please send a version to Wendy Karle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The second best method is to write to the Council members and the Mayor Johnson. Please copy us at email@example.com so that we can get your email as well. You can also call council members individually at the city main phone line and leave a message: 206-368-5440.
With your permission, we may publish your testimonial. See Testimonials
Consider an Individual/Family Donation or Pledge
LFPSF’s goal is to raise $100,000 in private donation to match grant funds that we have received from King County Conservation Futures and other grants. We need 100 people to give $1,000 or 1000 people to give $100. All size of donation is important to us. Contributions can be made to the LFPSF by contacting LFPSF Fundraising Chair for 5 Acre Woods Brad Keefe at 206-240-6912 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online donations can also be made using our secure online donation form. Click here to Donate to 5 Acre Wood
Consider hosting a ‘Friend-raising” or fundraising dinner or party at your house. We will help you in setting it up.
Please contact Brad if you would like to host a party, volunteer as a grant writer or help with fundraising.
Join the Community to Walk to 5 Acre Woods
LFPSF and the Friends of 5 Acre Woods invites the community to a Walk to 5 Acre Woods, at 10:30 am the first Saturday of the month (unless specified otherwise). Walk to 5 Acre Woods is a good way to learn of the project and its updated status, and how to help. Every walk features a guest. Here are the guests featured for the next Walks (also see 5AW Calendar of events):
Saturday May 6 at 10:30: Tony Angell, LPF resident and accomplished artist, illustrator, writer and avid naturalist. He will recount his experiences living with and observing the urban wildlife of our forests.
Saturday June 3 at 10:30: Ben Pedigo, grew up in LFP, and became very interested in birds. Let’s hear Ben speak to us of the songs and identification of the birds inhabiting our woods.
Saturday July 8 at 10:30: Sarah Cooke, wetland biologist will speak to the life inhabiting wetlands, plants and animals, and its contribution in the ecology of our forest. Sarah has also performed the wetland delineation of 5 Acre Woods and can speak to it more in details.
To join the Walk, meet in front of the LFP Elementary School (18500 37th Ave NE, LFP – Parking available in the school parking lot) and proceed along the pedestrian walkway on40th Place NE, to take a short walk to 5 Acre Woods. Refreshment will be provided at the end of the walk, courtesy of Honey Bear Bakery and the Seattle Coalition for Green Spaces. Print Bookmark with walk schedules to share with friends
References and Resources
- Header: Wetland and Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) in the Five Acre Wood.
- Map showing part of Lake Forest Park. The Five Acre Wood is the area within the red box.
- Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in Lake Forest Park. Pileated wood peckers are one of many species that depend on mature forests.
- (article on Benefits of Greeness)