Innovative Pilot Project Seeks to Grow a Forest More Resilient to Climate Change

An innovative pilot project will replant portions of logged land now owned by Seattle City Light to grow a new forest that could be more resilient to climate change.

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and its partners – City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Northwest Natural Resource Group — received a $140,000 grant to reforest portions of the Stossel Creek area in the Tolt watershed northeast of Carnation. The grant money is being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society through its Climate Adaptation Fund, a program supported and established by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“Stossel Creek presents a unique opportunity to test innovative, new habitat restoration methods designed to increase resiliency to climate change for Western Washington forests,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Greenway Trust.

A volunteer from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust clearing invasive brush.

Trees on the 154-acre site were harvested by a private land company in 2012. Since then, the site has experienced new plant growth, but with few trees. Invasive species have taken hold in some areas. City Light purchased the land in 2015 as part of its Endangered Species Act Early Action Plan to conserve and enhance habitat for steelhead.

Crews and volunteers will reforest the site with native conifer species, such as Douglas Fir and Western redcedar. Instead of using only subvarieties that are native to Washington, this project also will include trees sourced from southwestern Oregon that are better adapted to warmer temperatures and drier summers.

“The climate of the Stossel Creek area is projected to be similar to southwest Oregon’s by the end of the 21st century,” explains Crystal Raymond, a climate adaptation specialist who helped secure the grant while she worked for City Light. “Therefore, the trees adapted to southwestern Oregon are expected to be better suited to the Stossel Creek site as the climate warms. By increasing the tree genetic and species diversity, the site’s resiliency to climate change will increase over time.”

Work to control invasive plant species and site preparation at Stossel Creek will begin this spring and planting new trees will begin in the fall. After planting, the team will have several opportunities to monitor success and share lessons learned from the project.

This pilot project will inform future climate-adapted restoration practices for lands owned by City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and other owners in the region. The long-term goal of the reforestation effort is to establish a diverse forest that will be adapted to the climate of the mid to late 21st century.

Recently, KING 5 visited the site to cover the project. Click here to watch the story featuring City Light’s Denise Krownbell.

Seattle City Light and Seattle Fire Department Partner to Address Network Vault Fires

Credit: K. Kennedy

 

At an event and demonstration today with the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the first-in-the-nation partnership today between Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department to more effectively fight fires in underground electrical vaults.

“Seattle has always been at the leading edge, and thanks to this innovative partnership, Seattle is now at the leading edge of fighting fires that are a danger to the public, our infrastructure, and our economy,” said Mayor Durkan during a demonstration of the new approach at City Light’s North Service Center. “This is the kind of collaboration and innovation we need as we work to deliver essential services, protect the public, and provide reliable electricity that powers Seattle. I am grateful to the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light who have made this vision for partnership a reality and who put themselves in harm’s way to limit the impact of these dangerous fires.”

The event included members of the Vault Response Team, which is comprised of specially trained Seattle Firefighters as well as executive members from both departments and other advocates of this partnership.

Last month, SFD Chief Harold Scoggins and City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs reached an agreement to solidify the partnership between the two departments and the Vault Response Team. The 48 members of the Vault Response Team will be continually trained to safely address the public safety needs resulting from network vault fire incidents. City Light will provide specialized supplies and equipment to treat these fires along with updated intel on City Light’s network maps.

Fire Chief Harold Scoggins praised the partnership for its innovation and what it means for other departments across the country.

“Vault fires create dangerous situations in confined spaces. Before this team was created, standard procedure was to keep the area clear and wait for the fire to burn itself out. This partnership, which takes an offensive approach, is a major advancement in our field and is an example that other energy providers and fire departments want to learn from. We are proud and thankful to have this vital resource here in Seattle.”

Electrical vault fires can be caused by something as simple as a cigarette butt landing on a pile of dried leaves or as critical as an arc flash created during maintenance. Their impact is costly and can be dangerous to the public and the firefighters extinguishing them. Within an instant, the pressure of a vault fire can launch a 300-pound utility cover up to three stories. To further complicate matters, these fires may cause large-scale power outages.

The fire department and City Light are deploying a new technology that can effectively and efficiently extinguish vault fires. With a financial contribution from City Light, the fire department revived an older truck that was scheduled for decommission to address these kinds of fires.

Armed with carbon dioxide canisters, Seattle firefighters can now remove the utility hole cover, insert a metal wand and inject the vault with carbon dioxide while covering the opening with a fire-resistant tarp. This removes the oxygen from the area, snuffing the fire by robbing it of oxygen. It is an offensive approach that keeps the fire from spreading throughout the entire vault system. Once the fire is out and the vault is cleared of smoke and carbon dioxide, City Light can de-energize electrical equipment, making the area safe for crews to begin repairs.

“This partnership enhances the safety of our both departments’ employees. We are exchanging information on safety practices and institutional knowledge while training together to ensure that these fires are extinguished safely and efficiently,” Baggs said. “Not only will this process reduce the amount of damage from these fires, but it can also greatly reduce the repair and outage time. This partnership is an insurance policy for our customers, the economic drivers in Seattle’s business core and for the public servants who address these fires.”

This technology reduces the potentially disastrous effect of these kinds of fires. While this method is crucial, the partnership between the fire department and City Light is the key ingredient to ensure its success. For Seattle Fire Captain Chris Greene, the technology behind extinguishing these fires is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

“There are a variety of great products available to handle high-voltage emergencies, but without a partnership, fire departments and utilities are missing a key component,” explains Greene. “CO2 and other chemical extinguishers are in fact effective, but it’s an engineered solution to a problem that can have significant impacts. The true solution is a foundational relationship with the energy provider like City Light that builds long before a fire begins.”

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

10 Ways to Prepare for This Week’s Stormy Conditions

In case you’ve missed it, the National Weather Service predicts stormy weather this week in the Puget Sound area. These stormy conditions are expected to begin Tuesday, Oct. 17, and have the potential to last until late in the evening of Thursday, Oct. 19. If your power goes out, please check City Light’s outage map to get regular updates on the outage status.

Image via National Weather Service

Now is the time to take action by creating a plan for you, your family and your property. Here is a short list of tips to be safe and prepared for this week’s storm:

1) Clear out your drains and gutters 

Leaves are still on trees at this point in the fall season. Rain and high winds may cause trees to lose their leaves, and the additional drag created by leaves makes broken branches far more likely.  if you can, prune the trees on your property; less broken branches lead to less outages.

2) Unplug electrical appliances

Be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions; you don’t want to lose files or expensive equipment.

3) Stay away from downed power lines

Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire, as it could be energized. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-7400. You can also report downed power lines to City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

4) Be cautious with generators and grills

Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. Do not use your charcoal or propane grills indoors.

5) Have your emergency kit and a plan ready

Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them.
(For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.)

6) Keep your phone ready

Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready. Now is a good time to charge up your external batteries, too.

7) Prepare your life-support systems

If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.

8) Remember the rules of the road

In the event you encounter an intersection with a dark or flashing signal, treat the intersection as an all-way stop.

9) Close your refrigerator/freezer

Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to two days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.

10) Remember Your Pets!

Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.

 


 

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000.

Don’t forget to visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following us on  Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on how to prepare for this winter’s weather, visit takewinterbystorm.org/.