Creating Buzz Along City Light’s Creston-Duwamish Transmission Line

Seattle City Light is working with partners to enhance habitat for native pollinators like this bumble bee.

Seattle City Light is working with a host of stakeholder groups to create a lot more buzz along the corridor for the utility’s Creston-Duwamish transmission line, which runs from South Seattle to Tukwila.

The collaboration is aimed at improving habitat in the area for native bees and other pollinators.

City Light is working with The Common Acre, Earth Corps, Veterans Conservation Corps, the City of Tukwila, Forterra and the Friends of Duwamish Hill on the project. Work includes a survey of existing vegetation and pollinators; removal of non-native or invasive plants; and planting native vegetation that supports native pollinators, such as mason bees, bumble bees and butterflies.

“Specifically, we are looking at how pollinator habitat impacts management of tree species and invasive weeds and then how effective are the habitat improvements at increasing the number of bees and butterflies,” City Light Senior Environmental Analyst Rory Denovan said.

A researcher from The Common Acre collects a bee from the Creston-Duwamish transmission right of way.

Additionally, the utility hopes the native plants will suppress the growth of invasive weeds and trees, reducing the risk that those plants would grow into the transmission lines where they could disrupt service,  Denovan said.

A researcher identifies a bee collected from City Light’s transmission right of way.

The project started as part of the Enhanced Environmental Leadership Initiative outlined in City Light’s six-year Strategic Plan and is a cooperative effort between City Light’s Vegetation Management unit and Environmental Affairs and Real Estate Division.  “This program builds on the long history of partnerships and habitat expertise that City Light Vegetation Management staff have developed over the years,“ Denovan said.

The utility created a Community Stakeholder Team to identify opportunities for additional environmental engagement. Team member Bob Redmond, who is the executive director of The Common Acre, pitched the idea of improving habitat for pollinators, and the project took flight.

Volunteers plan native plants for pollinators near City Light’s Duwamish Substation.

The Common Acre has been working with the Port of Seattle since 2011 on a similar project called “Flight Path” that uses open space near SeaTac International Airport for honeybee hives and habitat restoration with native plants such as goldenrod, big leaf maples and rhododendron, to support native bees.

Read The Seattle Globalist story about Common Acre’s efforts here.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States.  It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents.  City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Green Seattle Partnership has plenty to celebrate on its 10th birthday

When people picture the Pacific Northwest, visions of mountains and lush greenery come to mind. Though our infamous rain fall helps, maintaining Seattle’s urban forests and keeping our city healthy and green is a big job. Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) was created to aid in that effort. GSP turns 10 years old this year, and the organization has a lot to celebrate.

Seattle Parks Plant Ecologist Michael Yadrick gives a tour in the West Duwamish Greenbelt to highlight the Green Seattle Partnership’s restoration efforts.

The Green Seattle Partnership is a unique public-private venture dedicated to promoting a livable city by re-establishing and maintaining healthy urban forests. It was created in 2004 by a Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Seattle and the Cascade Land Conservancy (now known as Forterra). The GSP is a 20-year investment in the restoration of our forests.

The GSP works with many community partners such as EarthCorps and Goodwill. The GSP has trained more than 200 volunteer forest stewards who lead volunteer work parties throughout the city. The GSP coordinates with Seattle Parks crews and plant ecologists to ensure its volunteers are equipped with mulch, plants and necessary tools to complete their work.

Seattle’s urban forests were damaged as a result of 150 years of logging, view clearing and neglect. The trees were plagued with invasive plants like Himalayan blackberry and ivy. Of the 3,700 acres of openspace managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation, GSP was tasked with restoring 2,500 acres of forested parklands.

GSP representatives have been busy reaching out to Seattle communities and businesses to educate people and get them involved in environmental stewardship.  And their efforts have paid off. After 10 years, GSP has enrolled 1,299 acres of parklands into restoration. Between 2005 and August 2014, people donated 694,159 volunteer hours to the organization. So how were those hours spent?

GSP forest stewards and volunteers have removed 816 acres of invasive species, installed 528,806 plants and watered 1,023,538. In fact, this year, GSP’s work was credited with helping make Seattle the most sustainable city in the nation.

In its next 10 years, GSP hopes to enter nearly 1,500 more acres into restoration, restore trails and make tree canopy coverage more equitable across Seattle neighborhoods.

According to Seattle Parks Plant Ecologist Michael Yadrick, once our urban forests are healthy, keeping them that way becomes pretty straightforward.

“You can stack the deck in favor of native plants and make life hard for the invasives,” Yadrick said. “You can help the Green Seattle Partnership change the outcome of the battle by getting out there and removing the invasive plants, replanting the natives and monitoring their growth for future health. If you do it right, that victory will last.”

To learn more about GSP, visit greenseattle.org. If you’d like to volunteer with GSP, you can find plenty of events here.

The GSP’s biggest volunteer push of the year, Green Seattle Day, is coming up on Saturday, Nov. 8.

April Volunteers Live Up to Public Service

Public service means just that, serving the public. This April, dozens of City Light employees put the walk in the talk, volunteering their own time to restore sensitive river waterfront and to rehabilitate the home of an elderly Korean War veteran.

On April 19, City Light employees returned to the Duwamish River to help with cleanup and restoration of the river’s shoreline, teaming up with the group Forterra. Volunteers removed weeds, mulched, worked on irrigation and erosion controls, and made other important improvements to the Duwamish Hill Preserve  in Tukwila.

The preserve is part of a larger regional effort to restore habitat and to clean up the Duwamish River and waterway. This marked the third consecutive year that City Light contributed to the Earth Day Duwamish clean up.

Then on April 26, City Light and McKinstry volunteers added a little sweat equity to the home of an elderly man in Ballard as part of this year’s Rebuilding Together Seattle project. Volunteers tore off and replaced back and front porches at the home, fixed plumbing and wiring, landscaped the yard, installed a new washer and kitchen stove, painted, and removed debris and trash. The owner of the home, an Air Force Korean War veteran and English literature teacher, also received a new bed and a framed and signed historical picture of his house. All the work was completed in less than a day.

The home in Ballard was one of 25 different rehabilitation projects sponsored by Rebuilding  Together Seattle this year.