Genesee campus tree makes history: ‘Best in City’ honor

Admiring the fall colors this weekend? A visit to the past-and-future school site on Genesee Hill (50th SW/SW Genesee) might be in order – to pay your respects to that American Elm honored as a “Best in City” tree in PlantAmnesty‘s Heritage Tree program. Karen Lyons shares the photo and the news:

I belong to a group that is trying to save some of the fine trees on the school’s 6.2 acres. I’m the group’s botanist so I volunteered to take a tree survey last year and found a magnificent American Elm! The majority of American Elms in the US were wiped out by Dutch Elm disease. Somehow this tree is either immune (making it valuable for research) or has escaped the disease. I later contacted the Heritage Tree committee and they sent a group of 6 investigators to measure and take samples of the Elm. That was a few months ago. On October 1st I received this letter naming this tree and awarding it as “Best In The City”. It will be spared!

District documentation verifies that the tree will not be taken out during the construction of the new school – from last month’s summary of the newest design changes: “The steep hillside on the site will be fully protected, as will the significant and exceptional trees on the hillside (including the old elm near the center of the site).” The district expects to start construction next spring; the current Schmitz Park school program is expected to move into the new school at mid-year 2015-2016, while the district proposes to turn the current Schmitz Park building into an early-learning center.

12 Replies to "Genesee campus tree makes history: 'Best in City' honor"

  • wssz October 12, 2013 (4:23 pm)

    My all-time favorite trees for fall color are on 51st SW. They are in front of the three houses starting at 4822 (51st SW) and the next two houses south. Truly stunning. This is peak season for them.

    For tree lovers, they are an ironwood, two sugar maples, and one other that’s a mystery tree. If anyone knows what it is, I’d love to know!

  • sgs October 12, 2013 (5:48 pm)

    Thanks Karen, to you and your group, for your efforts! We really appreciate it!

  • jwws October 12, 2013 (6:12 pm)

    yes, thank you Karen!

    I grew up on Cape Cod where almost all of the beautiful Elm trees succumbed to or were cut down due to Dutch Elm disease; very sad to see. This is a magnificent specimen and if it is (hopefully) resistant to the disease more than worth preserving. thank you for you hard work and diligence.

  • John October 12, 2013 (6:45 pm)

    I’m curious what the criteria were. How did they define “best”? I’m guessing, since investigators came months ago, this was not based on fall colors. (Even so, I can think of plenty of other more gloriously colorful trees – the ones along the side of the Frye Museum on First Hill come immediately to mind.) It’s an impressive tree, no doubt, but I can think of lots of others that are more majestic, shapely, evocative, etc.

    • WSB October 12, 2013 (6:54 pm)

      John – the name of the program is linked to the page about it at PlantAmnesty, if you’re interested in finding out more (if you haven’t followed that link already) – we try to link background info as often as possible in WSB stories so that people can go explore if they choose (any word that’s colored blue is a link) without having to start from square one on Google – TR

  • anonyme October 12, 2013 (6:45 pm)

    Hooray! I wish all trees were treated with such respect.

  • alki forever October 12, 2013 (7:05 pm)

    Tree huggers unite!!

  • EMO October 12, 2013 (7:06 pm)

    What a beautiful tree! Great choice indeed, my family and I will stop by and check it out tomorrow.

  • AsSueCsIt October 12, 2013 (7:52 pm)

    @John…did you even read the explanation under the picture? Rather than putting the choice down a simple appreciation was all that was needed. (Love the color and the fact that it is a “survivor.”)

  • Karen Lyons October 13, 2013 (6:39 am)

    John, this tree is hard to photograph. You are only seeing part of the trunk as the tree is slightly down the slope. It is a very tall and fully branched Elm. Soon the school will be removing the fence making it easier to view the whole tree. Also, it has a vase style trunk making it unusual. I think the committee took these facts into consideration, and the fact that this is a very healthy Elm.

  • mama3boys October 13, 2013 (10:32 am)

    What a perfect mascot for the new school! Good job Karen!

  • West Seattle since 1979 October 13, 2013 (12:17 pm)

    Just the fact that it’s an American Elm survivor is amazing! I didn’t realize there were any left.

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