Community Garden, Wetland Planned for Former Delridge Substation

Volunteers remove blackberry plants from the former Duwamish Substation property during the 2016 Duwamish Alive event.

Seattle City Light, Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, and Seattle Parks and Recreation are transforming a former Delridge substation into community green space with a community garden, wetland, and educational programs for students and adults on growing food and environmental stewardship.

“Delridge is a dynamic and diverse neighborhood that feels the pressure of urbanization. Longfellow Creek floods and salmon die from polluted stormwater runoff. What’s more we’re in a food desert with demonstrated lack of access to fresh food,” said Willard Brown, director of housing and environmental programs for the development association. “The Delridge Wetlands and Stewardship Project is our chance to help the neighborhood and provide things that the community wants and needs.”

Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association began working with Seattle City Light in 2015 when the 20,000-square-foot parcel was deemed surplus property to create a place that would provide access to fresh food, preserve a wetland, help control seasonal flooding and improve water quality in Longfellow Creek. Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association secured grant funding to purchase the property at fair market value for $80,000 and for design and restoration of the wetland.  Seattle Parks and Recreation will own the property. Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association will manage the site.

City Light laid the groundwork for the future community greenspace by removing contaminated soils. The utility also will remove the upper portions of six hazardous, diseased cottonwood trees in the 4,000-square-foot wetlands as part of the condition of transfer to Seattle Parks and Recreation. The cottonwoods will be converted to snags for wildlife habitat.

Brown is leading the charge for the property’s transformation and is bringing together the organizations that will transform the site. Students from K-8 STEM School at Louisa Boren, located two blocks from the site, and The Nature Consortium are working in the wetlands, removing invasive weeds, planting trees and learning firsthand how to care for the earth. A partnership with City Fruit and Tilth Alliance will bring a community orchard and garden to the former substation site. The Pomegranate Center, Outdoor Classroom Design and Gaynor Inc. are onboard to develop the site plan with community input this year.


Conserving Stossel Creek

Steelhead – photo by Oregon State University

Seattle City Light recently acquired 154 acres of land on Stossel Creek east of Duvall to preserve important habitat for coho salmon and steelhead.

The utility owns more than 13,000 acres of conservation lands to protect habitat for fish and wildlife. It’s part of our commitment to environmental stewardship in the areas where we generate clean hydropower to meet our customers’ electricity needs in a responsible manner. That’s one more reason we are the nation’s greenest utility.

Here’s what Mountains to Sound Greenway wrote about the Stossel Creek purchase in their Spring issue of the Connections newsletter:

Seattle City Light acquired 154 acres on Stossel Creek, an important coho and steelhead tributary to the Tolt River, for the purpose of habitat restoration. The property is located just east of Duvall and adjacent to the Marckworth State Forest, managed by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The acquisition is a key component of a regional conservation strategy, led by DNR, King County, and the Tolt Fish Habitat Restoration Group, to undertake restoration in the basin, including reconnecting wetland complexes to the creek and removing and reducing sediment input to Stossel Creek and the Tolt River. Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States and has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle Parks’ gardeners teach hands-on learning in Magnuson Park

Students in Magnuson Park. Photo by Jessica Levine

Seattle Parks and Recreation believes that parks make excellent classrooms, and this June, we tested that theory with the help of 300 students.

Students pull invasive plant species in Magnuson Park. Photo by Jessica Levine

On June 9, 10 and 11, Seattle Parks Northeast District Gardeners led approximately 300 sixth graders from Eckstein Middle School on field trips throughout Magnuson Park. The event was the culmination of their sixth-grade science unit on stormwater.

The gardeners shared the history of the site’s transformation from pristine wilderness, to naval airstrip and base, to constructed wetlands. The students learned about invasive weeds, native wetland vegetation, resident wildlife, and how they all relate to cleaning up stormwater before it reaches Lake Washington.

The gardeners trained a group of 50 students every two and a half hours on safe tool usage and uprooting invasive plants.  The kids were extremely productive, and many were surprised how much fun it was working in the park.

“Thank you for our memorable experience in Magnuson Park this week,” Eckstein Middle School teacher Jessica Levine said. “Removing invasives to help natives thrive is important for stormwater management. Glad we could help!”