Seattle Animal Shelter conducting emphasis patrols on saltwater beaches

Spring is blossoming and hatching in Seattle, and now is a particularly important time to ensure that immature wildlife have their best opportunity to flourish in the Northwest. Because of this, the Seattle Animal Shelter will be conducting emphasis patrols on all saltwater beaches in the city.

Dogs are not allowed on any of Seattle’s public saltwater beaches, whether leashed or unleashed. This law helps to protect the fragile ecosystem along our shorelines. Marine mammals, such as seal pups who are typically born in April, use the city’s beaches to rest and warm themselves. Shore birds also frequent our beaches. Wildlife that interact with dogs are less likely to reach adulthood.

Uniformed animal services officers will be patrolling city parks with a focus on saltwater beaches and may issue citations to violators.

If you would like to report Seattle beaches where dogs are frequently seen, please submit a service request at http://bit.ly/sas-service-request. You can also contact the shelter directly by calling 206-386-PETS (7387) or by visiting www.seattleanimalshelter.org.

Making parks enjoyable to people and wildlife through creative compromise

Beaver in Magnuson Park. Photo by Robert Vandenbosch

Seattle was recently named one of the top 10 cities for wildlife and we take that title seriously. Every day Seattle Parks and Recreation works at stewarding a healthy environment for people and nature. Recently our creative environmental stewardship efforts have led beavers to establish their habitat in Magnuson Park.

Seattle Parks’ staff started noticing beaver activity in the central wetlands last spring, and by December 2014, the water level in the north Promontory Pond was 4 feet above the designed level. Staff were challenged with protecting the trails and vegetation, without destroying the beavers’ habitat. In order to keep beavers in residence, staff had to come up with a compromise between human and natural use of the wetlands.

Enter the Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler.

Seattle Parks worked with the designer of the wetlands, an environmental consultant and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to lower the water level of the pond down between what the beaver created and what the design of the wetland intended. Staff coordinated the installation and monitoring of three water-level-control devices in the wetland to lower the water level about two feet. At this level, flooding to the adjacent trail is reduced and some of the shoreline and upland vegetation are saved. Most of the beaver’s dam was left in place while work was completed, and the beaver has already repaired the dam with the new water-level-control devices in place.

Photo by Mike Schwindeller

The Clemson Beaver Pond Leveler works by discreetly lowering water levels. It minimizes the sounds of rushing or dripping water, catalysts for dam construction. Additionally, since most of the device is submerged underwater, it lessens the probability that the beavers will detect current flow, another trigger for dam building.

Because of this work, Seattle Parks is able to allow beaver habitat in Magnuson Park, and give the public a unique viewing experience.

Seattle named sixth friendliest city for wildlife

Just ask the beavers at Golden Gardens. They’ll tell you. Or consult the barn owls in Magnuson Park. They know. But now it’s really official, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has just announced that Seattle is the sixth friendliest city in that nation for wildlife.

To kick off the 77th annual National Wildlife Week, NWF announced its “Top Ten Cities for Wildlife” in the United States. The scoring was based on three important criteria – the percentage of parkland in each city, citizen action to create wildlife habitat and school adoption of outdoor learning in wildlife gardens.

It’s no surprise Seattle made the cut. Seattle has more than 400 parks and open areas and 6,200+ acres of parkland. Additionally, there are 800 NWF certified wildlife habitats and 30 NWF community wildlife habitats in and around the city.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has played a major role in preserving wildlife habitat and educating citizens about interacting with urban wildlife neighbors.

  • In Magnuson Park, Discovery Park, Carkeek Park, Seward Park, Camp Long, and many other greenspaces, nature educators lead nature camps, wetland walks and garden parties for community members, scout troops and school students.

  • Landscapes in parks are increasingly designed to be more bird and pollinator-friendly. These landscapes now provide nesting sites, food, shelter and informational signs about bird and plants species.
  • In 2011, Seattle Parks worked with Seattle City Light, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Burlington Northern Railroad staff and the U.S. Coast Guard to build replacement nest sites for ospreys in Commodore Park. The birds’ old nest had to be dismantled to repair a communications tower. Staff from the three agencies worked together on siting the new nest, getting permits, fabricating a nest platform and installing a 70-foot pole and platform.  Two ospreys showed up at the platform the month after it was built, and two babies were born that year. Birds continue to return each spring.

  • In 2012, the largest urban nesting colony of Great Blue Herons in Washington, located in Kiwanis Ravine Natural Area and Commodore Park, was designated as the City’s first Urban Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • When beavers recently took residence in Golden Gardens Park and Magnuson Park, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff created new ways to help mitigate pond overflow in the park without destroying their dams.
  • In 2008 coyote sightings in Discovery Park sparked debate among neighbors about whether the animal should be killed, relocated, or left alone. Seattle Parks staff came up with a solution that allowed the coyote and community to co-exist — not only this park, but also in many greenspaces throughout the City. Seattle Parks staff held an open house to talk to residents in all neighborhoods about ways to live peacefully with urban wildlife. The department invited representatives from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, Woodland Park Zoo, Wolf Haven International, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Seattle Animal Shelter to participate and share tips.

  • Seattle Parks, together with other City departments, community and non-profit partners in the Green Seattle Partnership have brought 1,040 acres of wetland and urban forest parkland into active restoration as sustainable, quality, diverse habitat for urban wildlife.
  • Seattle Parks staff and community wildlife advocates in several parks are working collaboratively to anticipate and resolve conflicts between maintenance practices and urban wildlife habitat impacts.
  • In 2014, the City of Seattle stopped using neonicotinoid insecticides and promoted the installation of pollinator habitat to help support native pollinators and honey bees.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is proud to have played a role in making the city more attractive to wildlife and staff will continue to work with communities to sustain these efforts.

Visit one of our 6,200 acres of parkland, and if you encounter wildlife, snap a picture and share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Seattle City Light Protects Salmon Habitat

City Light acquired two properties on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers for fish habitat preservation.

The Skagit River property consists of 62 acres with 500 feet of river frontage, a slough, and extensive side channels. The Sauk river property is nearly three acres with 300 feet of river frontage located just upstream of Darrington.

The purchases were funded with a grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and City Light funds.

City Light holds more than 13,000 acres of land to conserve habitat for wildlife and threatened and endangered fish.