Archive for October, 2012

Yesler Swamp Trail Is Coming!

Friends of Yesler Swamp is pleased to announced that the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund has recommended a $64,000 award to begin construction of the Yesler Swamp Trail!

After an outpouring of community support, including three planning meetings open to the public, our design team at SBA Landscape Architects has completed a design for an environmentally sensitive, all-weather, handicapped accessible trail through Yesler Swamp. We have all the necessary environmental permits in hand!

Phase 1 will be a boardwalk segment over the lagoon.  Visitors will be able to watch eagles fishing, see a pair of Great Blue Herons, and — with any luck — catch a glimpse of beavers swimming in the waters. All this — AND visitors will be able to keep their feet dry, year-around!

Fund raising will begin soon to raise the $16,000 matching money for the Department of Neighborhood award.

Check out the details of plans and permits at Yesler Swamp Trail.


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Volunteer turnout in the upland restoration yesterday was sparse. It was just Lewis Johnson and myself. We must have that unique intelligence that brings us to work in the swamp. We know we will make a difference with time and we know we have nothing better to do with our time. There were excuses for a poor turnout: Rain (there was none), poor notice on my part (the next work day will be November 17th at 10AM), field trip, home construction, car smashed; but mainly silence.

Lewis and I did manage to clear 2/3rds of the 2012 Capstone area of blackberry which pulled out easily from mulch buried roots covered by the former students efforts. Thanks to the weekly watering and weeding by Lewis and the former capstone leader Rob Edsforth over the summer, nearly all the student planting has thrived and in the next year these native plants will shade out the invasive blackberry, vine weed (morning glory) and creeping buttercup. If you want to learn more about this area it is next to the entrance. If you have a scanner there is a reader on our trail board.

The 2011 upland restoration was less formal and is in the northern portion of the swamp. In spite of the blackberry and morning glory, the willow stakes stuck in the ground are now nearly 15 feet tall.

Older upland restorations spearheaded by Kern Ewing and Capstone groups prior to Friends of the Yesler Swamp are willow forests on the western upland portion of the swamp. We have continued to maintain a portion of a 2005 capstone project in the NE corner near 41st and Surber where bushes thrive.

We are hoping the Capstone UW student group will choose the Yesler Swamp upland area near Surber Drive as one of their 2013 projects sponsored by Friends of Yesler Swamp.

If it seems we are unsung heroes, the Friends of Yesler Swamp have been nominated for  volunteers of the year and will be recognized at the annual Botanical Gardens event at the Center for Urban Horticulture this Thursday evening.

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Dear Friends of Yesler Swamp

We will be working in the swamp this Saturday morning October 13th from 10AM till noon and celebrating the return of the rain to the swamp. We will meet near the entrance and work on the following in this priority:

1) 2011-12 Capstone upland site next to the sign: uncovering the planted natives from the vine weed (morning glory), unrooting blackberry and buttercup. The blackberry has been easy to pull out as it has sprouted from the roots 4 inches down under the mulch and breaks off at that junction easily.
2) 2010-11 student worksite in the north upland area: pulling vine weed off of 18 month old native planting, unrooting blackberry
3) Cutting and removing the tops of the tall yellow flag iris from the north end of the lagoon to improve the view.

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Amazing Beaver Sighting

Lewis Johnson was lucky enough to catch a photo of a beaver swimming in Yesler Swamp. Here’s his story and the extraordinary pictures Lewis shared with us:

On September 28, I searched for the Barred Owl in the swamp near dusk. After traversing the back trail through Sidles Swamp, I wandered out along the west branch of the loop trail to the lagoon and was greeted by the tail-slap of a startled beaver. They’re often wary, sometimes the clicking of a camera shutter alone is enough to send one diving for cover. After a few minutes of waiting and photographing reflected light from the sunset, they re-emerged. I quietly snuck into the cattails while the beavers were near the entrance to the lagoon, hoping to catch them with sunset light in the background.

As three beavers foraged in the distance, I set up such that only my lens was easily visible, and within a few minutes, one of the three beavers began swimming back to the lodge. It circled in front of me—unaware or unafraid, tantalizingly close. However, I faced a conundrum as I’d switched to a 50mm lens for the sunset: stay silent with the wider lens, or switch to my telephoto. I chose the latter, carefully sliding my lens bag off my back and laying it between clusters of plants, extracting the lens, and juggling both lenses as the beaver came back. The lens was fitted with seconds to spare, before one of the beavers swam within about 8-10 feet of me in the fading light. A few more photos later, we both quietly went our separate ways to forage for dinner.

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