(UPDATED 7:27 PM with additional information from Councilmember Herbold)
Story by Tracy Record
Photos by Christopher Boffoli
“Is THAT the clearcut?”
The question came from someone we passed while walking up from the first East Admiral street end where we’d stopped to seek an overview of the city-owned slope where, as first reported by The Seattle Times last night, 100+ trees have been cut illegally.
We were in the wrong place but subsequently found the two street ends where you can see the trees’ remains firsthand: 33rd and City View, where a short trail leads north to an overview of the south end of the area, and the north end of 35th SW, where you can look directly onto the slashed slope. Those areas are below and to the left of the “AW1” designation in the Green Seattle Partnership map we’ve embedded below:
You can manipulate that map to get a better perspective, via the aerial view, of exactly where that is. It’s not far from Admiral Way, but you can’t see it from that road – you really have to be right up next to it to see what has happened.
Also out for a look today: City Councilmember Lisa Herbold and City Attorney Pete Holmes, whose office is investigating the illegal cutting. Herbold posted about it via Facebook, and added, “I was assured that criminal and civil sanctions are on the table for the responsible parties.”
We’ve been researching since late last night, when people started sending us the Times link (thank you), expressing outrage that this had happened, and not been noticed and made public until now. The area where it happened is actually in what’s known as the Duwamish Head Greenbelt – similar name to the West Duwamish Greenbelt further south, but not connected to that larger stretch of public forest. The Duwamish Head Greenbelt stretches across part of East Alki, too, though it’s not a contiguous stretch as is the WDG. It was expanded with acquisitions funded by 2008’s Parks and Green Spaces Levy; we haven’t yet found this specific property’s history (as in, how long the city has owned it), aside from that two separate parcels are involved.
Meantime, the Times’ report suggests this may have happened weeks ago. The question we’ve heard most often today is, how could no one notice? Certainly that much tree-cutting could not have gone unseen/unheard, as more than a few homes border and/or have views into this area.
That takes the question to, who knew what was going on? It brought to mind the totem-pole theft from Rotary Viewpoint Park six years ago, when passersby and even a police officer thought the pole’s removal was sanctioned.
We won’t be able to talk with the investigating agencies until Monday; Times reporter Daniel Beekman wrote that the city would only provide him with “scant details” about the investigation. As he pointed out, we found that the trees’ remains carry metal tags:
East Admiral’s slopes have a lot of change going on. A short distance upslope to the west, at least two new homes are under construction. A short distance to the south is the future 14-house project at 3601 Fauntleroy SW, on a sloped (but privately owned) site that according to an arborist’s report holds at least 100 trees.
Back to the newly revealed case – we don’t know if a police case is open; we checked the SPD Police Report map, going back three weeks, and don’t see anything in that specific area. But if you have any information, contact the City Attorney’s Office at 206-684-8200. Here’s one more look – our Instagram video clip with a 360 of the SW City View end of the site (mouse over the image to bring up the “play” button):
P.S. The last major local case of tree destruction, ostensibly for views, was five years ago, when a Harbor Avenue resident hung a protest banner on trees upslope from her home that she said were poisoned.
7:27 PM UPDATE: From a followup exchange with Councilmember Herbold, she says investigators have not yet identified exactly who was responsible but are talking with someone who does know. She also spoke with Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas today and was told that Mayor Murray “also intends to see that appropriate sanctions are sought.”