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 (spot)Light: Christopher Peguero

Christopher Peguero is in a unique position at City Light, one that was born from his motivation to provide a voice for under-represented groups in our community. As City Light’s environmental equity advisor, Christopher uses the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) as a tool to implement a culture shift in the way that City Light does business. As the founder of the City of Seattle’s SEqual affinity group, Christopher also advocates workplace equality for all City employees, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Christopher has been with City Light for 10 years, and he holds a degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. He lives in Beacon Hill with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Alexander and Adela. In this week’s Seattle City (spot)Light, Christopher talks about how (and why) issues of equity became the focus of his job.


Environmental Equity Advisor Christopher Peguero (foreground) with his husband Anthony Potter and their children Adela and Alexander.

“Race and social justice, equity and engagement have always been central to my work in the environmental sector. I wanted to deepen my knowledge of how you do that work, especially in a large municipality. When I began my work at the City, I spent three years on the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative Core Team.”

“I’m a multi-racial person; I’m of Mexican and Native American and European descent. I am also gay. In my work with the RSJI team, I asked the question ‘How does LGBTQ equity fit in with the City’s RSJI policy?’ The answer was that the City leads with race,” said Christopher.

“Race is most central to addressing institutional oppression since it is central to historical inequity in the United States.  I feel that an inclusive model is the only way that we will ever reach collective liberation from institutional oppression. I wanted to bring LGBTQ concerns to the table too, so I started the City’s LGBTQ affinity group, SEqual. SEqual has been around for seven years now.”

“Later, I proposed a three-year pilot program at City Light looking at environmental justice issues, because I wanted to integrate the work that RSJI was doing into City Light’s environmental work. Simultaneously, the mayor came out with the Equity & Environment Agenda, so that dovetailed nicely. My proposal was accepted and now we are looking at how to make it a permanent program.”

“Traditionally, the environmental sector has been led by white, affluent folks, and often this work tended to benefit that same demographic, not necessarily by intention but because that’s how it evolved and who was at the table.”

“My focus is working with tribes, immigrant and refugee communities, people of color, low-income and limited English proficient communities. Environmental equity looks at developing pathways of opportunities towards employment in the environmental sector and towards influencing environmental policies that have traditionally not centered the needs of these demographics.”

“Now the environmental movement (at least in Seattle) is having a deeper conversation about what inclusion and engagement looks like. The question we’re asking is ‘as we are addressing environmental issues, is there a way to look at disparity as part of the puzzle? Is there a way that all people can share the benefits of environmental progress?”

“We are proudly committed to our work in the environment and conservation at City Light, but there is a need for environmental equity too. There is an opportunity for City Light to lead in the energy sector around this work.”

“We have a strong RSJI program along with the mayor’s Equity & Environment Agenda, and with these two policy commitments at City Light, I believe we have a structured foundation to move toward positive outcomes for communities that have not traditionally been invited to the table.”

“It’s rare for anyone to find a position that really calls to them and all of their passions, and I am incredibly grateful to have found a role doing exactly that at City Light.”

City Light Asks for Feedback on Proposed Technical Training Center

Seattle City Light will be hosting a community meeting to explain the details of a proposed technical training center located north of the Duwamish Substation. As part of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, City Light will also be taking public comments from the community on the proposed project.

The proposed project has three components. The technical training center would consist of a classroom building and outdoor training yard. On-site wetland mitigation will provide approximately 4 acres of habitats similar to historic conditions on the Lower Duwamish River.  The project would also include a walking trail and educational amenities.

A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 14 from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at the South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98108) to discuss the project and take comments. Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.

The SEPA comment period starts on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 and ends at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2016. The public is invited to submit comments at any time during this period. Comments can be sent to Margaret Duncan, SEPA Coordinator at margaret.duncan@seattle.gov or by mail at the following address:

Seattle City Light
Environment, Land and Licensing Business Unit
ATTN: Margaret Duncan
700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200
Seattle, WA 98104

How should Seattle grow? You tell us!

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development has released for public comment a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update. This is a major milestone towards an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan which plots a 20-year vision and roadmap for Seattle’s future growth and livability. The Comprehensive Plan includes goals and policies related to the arts, culture, and historic preservation, all of which encompass a broad range of people, activities, spaces, and levels of involvement. The Draft EIS provides detailed information on various growth alternatives, their potential impacts to the environment, and proposed mitigation strategies. The City wants your voice to be heard as we refine strategies for accommodating growth for the benefit of all.

How to provide feedback on the Draft EIS:

  • Visit our online open house to learn about the findings of the Draft EIS and take the online survey
  • Attend the public hearing and open house on May 27, from 6 – 8 p.m. at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue).
  • Submit comments on the Draft EIS online, via email to 2035@seattle.gov, or in writing to:

City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development

Attn: Gordon Clowers
700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000
PO Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124

Comments must be postmarked no later than June 18, 2015.