New Seattle Parks ‘guidelines’ for natural areas/greenbelts? Public hearing Thursday; petition drive under way now

(West Seattle section of Parks map showing ‘natural areas’ in purple, parks in green)
Remember the GoApe/Lincoln Park kerfuffle three years ago? In short – Seattle Parks spent one year talking with a commercial zipline operator about a potential facility in Lincoln Park without any public notification/discussion. A local advocate got wind of it, asked us about it, we reported on it, local community advocates organized against it, the proposal was withdrawn.

No specific proposal of that type has emerged since. But natural-space advocates say they’re afraid a new Seattle Parks policy proposal that has a public hearing this Thursday (June 25th) – sparked by the controversy over a mountain-bike course elsewhere in the city – would open the gates for it, and for much more. They are circulating an online petition and sounding the alarm.

You might already have seen discussion of this in the WSB Forums. The “briefing paper” about what’s formally known as “Natural Area and Greenbelt Supplemental Use Guidelines” explains in this preface:

The purpose of the Supplemental Use Guidelines is to provide a transparent tool to evaluate use proposals in Parks’ classified Natural Areas and Greenbelts. (See map, Appendix B of the Guidelines.) The impetus to develop use guidelines came from the difficult process Parks, the Board and the community have been through regarding locating a new use – a bicycle trail – in the Cheasty Greenspace, one of Parks classified Natural Areas. We need to ensure that as an agency, we are meeting the needs of all of our residents and that policies reflect the
changing needs of residents and long-term goals for the city and Parks.

Here’s the full document:

One of the loudest opposition voices is from the Seattle Nature Alliance statement, which has major roots in West Seattle. Its statement includes a link to its petition:

Seattle Parks Department proposes to change the use policy for Natural Areas and Greenbelts, allowing previously prohibited uses in protected areas. After heated community debates over a proposed commercial zipline in Lincoln Park (2012), and more recently, a mountain-bike skills course in the Cheasty Greenspace, Seattle Parks seems to be proposing this policy change to streamline future projects and is ignoring the growing concerns about Seattle’s booming development and its effect on natural areas.

Concerned by equitable access to nature and potential damage to wildlife habitat from overuse, the Seattle Nature Alliance launched a petition. – ‘Preserve Seattle Parks Natural Areas and Greenspaces’. The Seattle Nature Alliance is opposed to the expansion of ‘specialized’ recreation in our natural areas and greenspaces. Co-director Denise Dahn believes “these revisions give privileges to a select few at the expense of everyone else. This is unfair as well as environmentally unsustainable. Parks are for everyone.

Parks staff is recommending that the Parks Board approve the new guidelines. First comes this Thursday’s public hearing, during the board’s 6:30 pm meeting at Parks HQ downtown (100 Dexter Ave. N.) Their vote is expected four weeks later, on July 23rd.

49 Replies to "New Seattle Parks 'guidelines' for natural areas/greenbelts? Public hearing Thursday; petition drive under way now"

  • AC June 23, 2015 (6:00 pm)

    Dismayed to see Fauntleroy Park on that list. The salmon released in that park will suffer as well as the hawks, owls and other birds that nest there. So disappointed. Signing the petition right away. Please, folks, let’s mobilize again to push this idea to the curb.

  • JayDee June 23, 2015 (7:10 pm)

    Did I miss something? Schmitz Park is a Park, consciously left in a “natural” state with minimal development in the original Olmstead plan. It was gifted to the City by the Schmitz family, and I would be really surprised if any other uses than the current ones would be allowed. I don’t know the details but perhaps some heirs could enlighten us. No mountain bike trails or ziplines here in this even smaller-than-Lincoln Park.

  • AmandaKH June 23, 2015 (8:08 pm)

    Look at all the greenspace in Delridge! One upside of being completely ignored by the City for so long… Save the Delridge greenspace!

  • G June 23, 2015 (8:15 pm)

    The Supplemental Use Guidelines seem sensible. There is enough space to go around so that everyone can be accommodated. Obviously, places like Schmitz Park should probably be left as is, but other greenbelts such as the Duwamish might accommodate a bike trail, or hiking trail.

  • woof man June 23, 2015 (8:17 pm)


  • NW June 23, 2015 (8:55 pm)

    Could decrease encampments and the garbage and refuse left behing by those making their home in Seattle’s green spaces.

  • Community Member June 23, 2015 (9:04 pm)

    For years I’ve wondered how the city’s bicycle master plan could include a separated bike route up Jacobsen. The road is narrow, with no room for expansion. Now I look at that map, and realize that there is probably plenty of room to put the bike route in the adjacent undeveloped park land. So I’m thinking – for Jacobsen at least – that this has probably been planned for years.
    I don’t know whether that is a good thing or not.

  • Oakley34 June 23, 2015 (9:18 pm)

    “Sidewalks for regular walkin! Not FANCY walking” – Jasper (The Simpsons)

    I may only be 35, but this is one of those issues that gets my inner senior citizen riled. Parks are for walking in…challenge courses and the like have their place and are a public good, but I don’t want to see them installed in every greenbelt where some outfit thinks they can make it commercially viable. I’d hate to see them or bike trails installed in the Schmitz preserve, and places like it. And I shake my cane at the notion.

  • Mary Fleck June 23, 2015 (9:19 pm)

    We need a plan for green space to balance density & development. Seattle does not have an enforceable open space plan. To accommodate growth, Parks is looking to squeeze recreational uses into natural areas. Yet the City owns 414 acres of “surplus” land which it claims not to need anymore. This includes wooded land parcels in Delridge and other parts of West Seattle which could be sold off for private development. Why should our natural areas be sacrificed? Seattle Green Spaces Coalition is meeting at Delridge library on July 12 at 3:00. Join us!

  • Pete June 23, 2015 (9:25 pm)

    This is a slippery slope they are embarking on here. As we all know once we give up our green spaces we never get them back. Why does every single parcel of property have to be developed? Look at all of the struggles for folks downtown trying to figure out how to come up with more green space.

  • Mark Ahlness June 23, 2015 (10:26 pm)

    There is significant resistance to this proposal! Please consider signing the petition asking the Parks Board to reject the supplemental use guidelines:
    THREE organizations from from West Seattle officially suport the petition so far ( we will not forget that zipline). Here’s the complete list:
    Friends of Frink Park
    Friends of Cheasty
    Fauntleroy Watershed Council
    Seattle Audubon Society
    Leschi Parks and Greenspace Committee
    Friends of Urban Forests
    Magnuson Environmental Stewardship Alliance
    Plant Amnesty
    Friends of Schmitz Preserve
    Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail at Sand Point
    Friends of Madrona Woods
    Seattle Green Spaces Coalition
    Friends of Lincoln Park
    Big public meeting with the Parks Board June 25.
    To learn more:

  • Kevin June 23, 2015 (11:22 pm)

    Remember Proposition 1 for the Parks District that you voted for? Our thoughts on parks no longer matter. The Parks District can do what it wants and make us pay for it.

  • Karen r June 23, 2015 (11:26 pm)

    Thank you so much, Terry, for bringing this to our attention. As with the ,thank goodness, ill fated zip line in Lincoln Park, we must all try to attend the Thursday meeting and speak out against this proposal. Development pressures are extreme in our communities and we must protect our precious few green spaces from these destructive activities.

  • Grant Ed June 24, 2015 (5:25 am)

    Commercial enterprises should go where there is commercial zoning. Why would we sacrifice our last remaining public natural spaces for commercial uses that could go somewhere else?

  • Dawsonst June 24, 2015 (7:12 am)

    The Cheasty Folks against the installation of trails don’t want to save the forest or protect it. They’re content with it being a dumping place, spot to use and sell drugs and for prostitution. There has been a huge effort by volunteers wanting trails, with guidance from Parks, ecology, etc. to remove invasive species, clean up the area of trash and put in new native plants. What did the opponents do? Nothing. Some specialized use is ok in our natural areas. Does it have to be rampant or in every locale? No as not all are suitable, but West Seattle does have some very suitable sites for bike trails that would be a boon to the neighborhood as a whole. Consider that your preferred means of recreating could be limited as well with this proposal.

  • Denise June 24, 2015 (7:23 am)

    Thank you for covering this, WSB! Please, everyone, go to Thursday’s meeting, and send in your comments to the Parks Board, and/or sign our petition. It is so important you make your voice heard. The biggest problem is that the people who believe in the concept of Passive Use in natural areas are being WAY out-shouted by the organized specialized-use groups. Who will speak for the ordinary citizen? Who will speak for wildlife?
    Answer: We will.
    –Denise Dahn, co-director, Seattle Nature Alliance.

  • Chris June 24, 2015 (7:51 am)

    The guidelines give Parks a way to evaluate use proposals to determine if they are consistent with natural areas. They do not give a green light to development. In fact the policy says “Not all activities are suitable for all areas; benefits of the activity should be greater than potential impacts to the site.” I’ll point out that Lincoln Park is not a natural area so is not subject to these guidelines.

  • carolyn June 24, 2015 (7:58 am)

    I think Dawsonst has a good point and I agree. Yes, green space and undeveloped spaces are a wonderful thing to have and preserve, but unfortunately some of those spaces are used by ‘specialized’ activities that are not good for our communities – dumping, drugs… As an active trail biker, I would love to see a trail park in one of our spaces, it is a great way to get kids outside, families and friends together to ride and it is free. No charges for a ‘ride’, but as Dawsonst mentioned, for other sites, planning is thoughtful to use the site without demolishing the natural space. It could be very helpful too if the site was in an area to provide alternate transportation routes for bike commuters to give them safer passage other than roads. Evergreen Mountain bike folks have planned and implemented bike parks successfully. New communities are formed around biking; volunteers come together in organized work parties to maintain and clean up the sites, and you meet new people who share the same interests. Duthie Hill Mountain bike park is a fine example of a successful use of greenspace. It is quite large, but in the 7 years that we have been biking there, we have only had positive experiences meeting interesting people, watching folks take care of the place, and encouraging new people to come try it out. The bikers we have encountered are respectful, respect the trail rules, helpful when someone has a breakdown, and clean up after themselves. I have encountered very little litter over the years.
    Ziplines-no, but more biking-yes please.

  • John June 24, 2015 (8:13 am)

    The zip line was a proposal during the desperate funding period of parks.
    To make that a centerpiece of this discussion is questionable as it was just a proposal and a bad one at that.

    Parks should be for all, encouraging a wide variety of activities, not just those making a living drawing and photographing nature.
    These profession based activists seem to be wanting our parks to become nature preserves.
    Seattle is a city blessed with tens of thousands of unbelievable nature preserves set aside, outside the city, in the real wilderness for those nature artists and activists to enjoy.
    Encouraging use of our green spaces will respond to their unconscionable decline due to noxious weeds, illegal dumping, and homeless encampments with their attendant pollution and toxic wastes.
    These naturalist groups seem to have far greater impact than their few active members would suggest. What we fear next on their slippery slope is a ban on dogs which are proven to damage the habitat of flora and fauna.
    The parks should be enjoyed by as many people as possible with a diversity of activities that these minority groups with big megaphones seem to be opposing.

  • AmandaKH June 24, 2015 (8:44 am)

    Without getting into the actual Usage for the parks and greenspaces that could ultimately divide us as it did with Cheasty… let’s focus on what we can agree on. We would much rather see those remain green spaces and not be developed by private developers. Maybe I am reading the Mayor’s new reorg of DPD as “how can we use city owned land to create more affordable housing”. Which in theory, I am 100% for. However, not if that means sacrificing large swaths of our green canopy. There is room at the table for all voices – but let’s make sure we all get a seat there together.

  • G June 24, 2015 (8:49 am)

    The shouting-down that I saw from a community meeting regarding the GoApe controversy came from those who opposed the plan; hopefully we don’t have to repeat that kind of behavior with this new plan. Folks will have advance notice to voice their opinion if they think a proposed activity doesn’t fit a park. I am thinking Camp Long is a model where a park can sustain various activities without negatively effecting wildlife. Lets make sure that, under the guise of protecting the parks for everyone, that were not protecting just one group(s) vision for our parks. Everyone can be accommodated.

  • John June 24, 2015 (9:13 am)

    As Dan Savage so bluntly stated, “If you call yourself an environmentalist and oppose density of housing, you are a hypocrite.”
    As so often discussed on WSB affordable housing is at a critically low availability in Seattle. Due to traffic, pollution, the ravishes of urban sprawl, Seattle sensibly planned decades ago to limit growth to specific areas. These designated areas are where the overwhelming majority of development is happening.
    Is AmandaKH being realistic or fear mongering in her word choice, “sacrificing large swaths of our green canopy.”? Seattle codes control and prohibit cutting trees. Developers are now required to replace displaced trees and vegetation.
    Utilizing some of the less desirable vacant city properties to develop low income and homeless housing is the humane thing to do.

  • jj June 24, 2015 (9:58 am)

    an off leash dog area somewhere northwest of highland park would be nice

  • Ron Swanson June 24, 2015 (10:05 am)

    I’m writing the Parks Department in support of the guidelines and increasing active recreation in the ‘greenspaces.’ These are primarily dumping grounds for garbage, illegal camping, drug use, and the like. More eyes on bikes or challenge courses or dog parks is extremely beneficial in keeping these undesirable activities that are far more harmful to the environment out.

    If you want “passive activity” space, go hike in the Olympics or Cascades.

  • Denise June 24, 2015 (10:25 am)

    I object to the characterization of the people who opposed the bike skills course as people who “do nothing”, or that they did not want to have the forest restored, or that they preferred to leave it to criminals. You could not be more wrong. Many of them are committed volunteers who actively work in forest restoration, or put in decades of volunteer work. The only difference is, they did not expect something in return. The restoration they did was for the forest – not in exchange for a bike skills course. This is more than a “trail”. it is a course planned with features that overload the area with ride zones, far beyond the capacity of the small space. Just look at the maps online. At one point, the free-ride zones were shown going through areas that had already been restored by unsuspecting Earthcore volunteers — who had no idea that the course was even planned.

  • Mark Ahlness June 24, 2015 (10:36 am)

    It’s great that people are finally hearing about this and beginning to discuss it. Thank you WSB for getting the story out there!
    This is not a simple issue. Seattle Nature Alliance has has been talking about what is at stake for a long time. We have also written quite a bit recently about the current Parks proposal and our petition. To find out much more:

  • TK June 24, 2015 (10:46 am)

    The green belt on the south side of Highland Park way… Is a great place to dump a body.

  • Mongo June 24, 2015 (11:58 am)

    There were a few comments above proposing additional off-leash areas in West Seattle. The good news for those folks is that making this happen is within your control. New off-leash parks happen when interested members of the community drive the process. There is an umbrella group, COLA ( that is available to help you turn your idea into reality. That’s the way other off-leash parks have come into being. If you really want it, no excuse not to lead the effort.

  • Ok But June 24, 2015 (2:40 pm)

    Petition signed.

  • Kadoo June 24, 2015 (8:07 pm)

    Open space parks are rare in an urban area, but they are treasured oases from the stresses of city life. Once they are gone they are gone. There are plenty of interests that would like to exploit our parks with profit-making activities. Just look at how hard Discovery Park lovers have had to fight to keep the Kiley Plan intact. Lincoln Park and Discovery Park are unique and need to be preserved. Not everyone can drive up to the Olympics to get away from ‘everything.’ We need urban respites, too.

  • Kadoo June 24, 2015 (8:11 pm)

    TR, do you know if tomorrow night’s meeting will be televised on the Seattle Channel?

    • WSB June 24, 2015 (8:15 pm)

      In the past, Parks Board meetings have been recorded for later cable/webcast, not shown live. Looks like they do have an archive:
      Most recent meeting there is late May – I don’t know if there was one skipped in mid-June.

  • Grant Ed June 25, 2015 (5:00 am)

    There are already hundreds of miles of roads and sidewalks in the city available to bikes. There is absolutely no reason to carve up our last remaining urban green spaces for a niche activity that has alternatives elsewhere.

    The elitist idea that increasing traffic in our natural spaces will somehow drive away homeless people is easily refuted by a quick walk down third avenue in the busy downtown corridor. Traffic doesn’t deter desperate people. Trying to take advantage of a social services problem so you can get your niche amusement park at public expense is shameful.

  • G June 25, 2015 (8:13 am)

    I think there is a substantial difference between long established, well-trafficked parks and greenbelts; the latter may be a better choice for incorporating activities like a bike trail.

    Per the concerns about wildlife, if anything bird wildlife has flourished even as West Seattle has become more densely populated. Not too long ago, a bald eagle, or osprey, or peregrine, or several other species of raptors were uncommon and now they are commonplace. West Seattle is bursting with wildlife. Nature is not a fragile flower, so to speak, in fact it is quite resilient and very adaptable.

  • consistently wrong June 25, 2015 (8:50 am)


    Show me the data on wildlife which reflects actual numbers and is not anecdotal.

    Also, since your clearly a thoroughly informed expert on the inventory of species for plants, birds and animals in these ecosystems, awhat is the percentage of invasive species remaining in each of these areas? What native grasses feed which species
    ? Do you even know? I think more established parks like schmitz are stronger and more resilient with flourishing native plants and wide established trails to bike up and down on. The wildlife in Admiral parks and greenbelt are more accustomed to more people and are even more resilient than other areas. So by your logic, that is exactly where the diversity of all biking folks should be welcome via the new Admiral bike lanes to support Alki businesses. Glad to see you support from your home in California an environmental social justice cause like this so Seattle Green Partnership can continue forest restoration work on the city’s greenbelts. No invasive removal and native planting means no wildlife, but of course you understand all of that because you are an informed educated California resident who has actual data which you base your condescending attitude upon and not the standard magical thinking so prevalent here in Seattle. Right?

  • Thomas M. June 25, 2015 (6:54 pm)

    We need an off leash dog park at Lincoln Park. It does not have to be big… the one off 140th at Eastgate in Bellevue is small. Being small and relatively flat allows older and mobility challenged people to enjoy dogs romping and being the joyful goofs that they are.

  • G June 25, 2015 (7:53 pm)

    consistently wrong,

    Nothing kills a conversation quite like non sequitors, ad hominem attacks, and the ‘ole strawman.
    No thanks.

  • Let's Not Be Rash June 26, 2015 (3:23 am)

    Don’t pull the fire alarm people. All the hubabaloo is over the fact that there is a proposal to create an urban mountain bike trail, along with a hiking trail network, at Cheasty Greenspace, in Beacon Hill; not EVERY park and greenspace in Seattle. This discussion has been going on for 2 years. Its only being heard by most people now because those who are opposed to it, and are losing the public debate about it, are now spreading misinformation and fear to further their agenda. For the last few years Cheasty Greenspace on Beacon Hill has been in ecological disrepair. English Ivy and other invasive species have essentially choked out the local flora and fauna that once thrived there. It’s also been frequently used as a local squatting site for homeless individuals. Two years ago the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance teamed with local people from the neighborhood to begin cleaning up Cheasty. They’ve spent the better part of the last 2 years clearing out invasive species, removing trash and working with the city to conduct ecological impact studies all with volunteers. Similar parks have already been created in other nearby communities, including Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park. Because the land there is being used for a variety of recreating, it is monitored far closer than it would be otherwise and receives far more stewardship than it had received before. Part of the motivation for the Chesty project was to emulate that similar project by restoring the area but also to find a way to actively engage children from the Beacon Hill neighborhood in positive and healthy outdoor activities. They’ve already partnered with local student groups and after school programs to enlist volunteers. From Seattle parks website: “The goal is to provide a mountain bike and walking experience for users of all ages and abilities to complement the existing natural area.” This debate has been on-going for the last 2 years between a very small but vocal minority and an overwhelming supportive neighborhood majority on Beacon Hill. Those who oppose it have now enlisted help in spreading misinformation about what the Supplemental Uses guidelines Will actually effect. The petition they’ve put on Facebook is confusing and elicits support from people who are environmentally-conscious and think they’re doing the right thing by supporting it (my knee-jerk reaction was to sign it too). What the Cheasty opponents are actually doing is making people fearful that this is something that will spread to every greeenspace in the city when its really just about Cheasty. The proposed guidelines are suggesting that certain parks and greenspaces could be open for discussion about allowing bike trails/paths and ropes challenge courses; (like the ones kids use to build self-confidence, not commercial ziplines) at Cheasty. As the guidelines stand now bike trails at Chesty cannot happen. This whole debate saddens me. Very few kids in our city care at all about being out in nature, let alone appreciating it and caring for it. You’re never going to reach those future citizens by making natural areas of our city inaccessible to them. Also remember that many families in our poorer neighborhoods do not have the luxury of driving 50 miles outside of Seattle to expose their children to nature. Having a natural place where kids can ride they’re bike is a way to engage them in what it means to care for our world. Don’t let overtly vocal special interest groups confuse you on what’s really going on here.

  • Denise June 26, 2015 (3:16 pm)

    I would encourage everyone to check out the video of last night’s meeting at the Park Board to get the TRUE version of this issue. Listen to the informed, well-reasoned, and heartfelt testimony by such respected groups as Seattle Audubon, and many, many others who strongly object to this bad-precendent-setting issue. These are not misinformed, knee-jerk people. Most of them have spent many decades working tirelessly as forest stewards or as community leaders.

    • WSB June 26, 2015 (3:56 pm)

      Do you have the URL? I can’t find it on the Seattle Channel site and have a question out to SC to ask if it’s up yet.

  • Mark Ahlness June 26, 2015 (4:35 pm)

    As for the video, I don’t believe it’s up yet – will let you know when it is, because Denise is right, you will hear very moving and truthful testimony from people who love their city and its parks.
    Anyone thinking the new supplemental guidelines will not open the door to a multitude of active sport uses in our most protected parklands – is dreaming.
    While waiting for the video, here’s a picture of part of the crowd from the Park Board meeting last night (please check out the caption):

  • Denise June 26, 2015 (5:19 pm)

    The video should be posted soon. Here is the link to the video site. The comment period was first on the agenda, and it lasted for an hour and a half. It is quite impressive.

  • Denise June 26, 2015 (5:27 pm)

    By the way, this issue is not about mountain bikes, or the mountain bike course at Cheasty Greenspace. That project is already approved and is happening. It was supposed to be a 3-year Pilot, but it was shortened to a 15-month trial.
    This current issue involves all the OTHER natural areas and greenspaces, including such places as Schmitz Park and Fauntleroy Park and West Duwamish. Also, the “unofficial” natural areas at places like the forested areas of Lincoln Park are totally unprotected. They are also subject to pretty much anything.

  • Rebecca Watson June 26, 2015 (6:22 pm)

    I encourage everyone to read the guidelines:

    I attended the Parks Board meeting yesterday and feel the testimony can stand up to any scrutiny or skepticism. I will let it speaks for itself.

    Watch the Parks Board Meeting video for yourself(not yet available as of 6-26 @5 but should be available soon):

    and visit the Seattle Nature Alliance website to get some information about this issue.

    if you identify with the views expressed and want to encourage Parks board to reject the new guidelines, consider signing the petition::

    Or submit your own personal concerns about this issue either way in writing by July 16th to:

    The Seattle Nature Alliance is committed to providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision. We advocate for preserving nature for wildlife habit, passive use and scenic beauty.

  • Let's Not Be Rash June 26, 2015 (11:14 pm)

    Denise, you are right about it not being specifically about the mountain bike/pedestrian park at Cheasty. This is more about the distrust the Seattle Nature Alliance has with the Parks Dept from the past. However you are incorrect in saying that the mountain bike park is surely going to happen. If the supplemental use guidelines do not change to allow bikes to be ridden in greenspaces (designated greenspaces like Cheasty, not EVERY greenspace), then the pilot will end and that that will be it. No where, repeat, no where in the parks dept memo does it say that all greenspaces will be up for grabs for commercial land development. When they’re discussing designating an area for commercial use, they are specifically identifying park users who use commercial equipment (i.e sporting good items bought from someone other than the city) that they are using to access the park. Essentially opponents are saying you shouldn’t have to own a bike to get enjoy certain areas of a park. However this is a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line? Binoculars? Running shoes? Dog leashes? Its ridiculous and has been spun so out of proportion that most people are really confused about what “commerical use” even means. I encourage everyone to read the Parks Dept. memo for themselves to get a better idea of how this idea that all greenspaces will be used for commercial development is completely misleading. Jason Rantz on KIRO Seattle fact checks all of this quite nicely: The idea here is find a balance so that people who are all interested in engaging with the city’s natural areas can do so; not just those that believe in passive use.

  • Rebecca Watson June 27, 2015 (7:18 am)

    I think the KIRO radio segment also speaks for itself. My colleague at Seattle Nature Alliance did an interview in good faith with KIRO radio. They then chose to play out of context excerpts interspersed with a non sensical rant. We think the citizens of Seattle are smart enough to see through this, and the so called fact checking, and reach their own conclusions.

  • Rebecca Watson June 27, 2015 (7:43 am)

    Also – This is a good follow up to the KIRO radio piece:

  • Denise June 27, 2015 (8:02 am)

    Please read our reply to our “critics”. This is where we are ACTUALLY coming from, not what other people are saying and posting about us – anonymously.

    We wholeheartedly do not agree with you, Rash.

  • Denise June 27, 2015 (8:21 am)

    Here is our official reply to our critics as posted on our website. It explains our position and opinions.

    •No, we do not misunderstand this policy change.

    It effectively replaces the traditional policy of reserving natural areas for passive use, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem services with a policy that invites specialized-user groups to lay claim to natural areas for their own preferred uses. This is inequitable, unsustainable, and unwise.

    Passive use is important because it is universally available to virtually everyone. Passive uses are compatible with one another, and with the other living creatures that depend on natural areas for habitat. Passive uses do not require their own specially allotted spaces, or ask people to pay fees for entrance. They do not favor organized groups who have the time and energy to provide ecosystem restoration services in return for usage privileges. Passive use is the best way to ensure that natural areas do not become overused, misused, and degraded.

    Passive use is why we have natural areas today.

    •Yes, the policy is misleading.

    By stating that “wildlife sanctuaries” would be protected, the Parks Department implies there are wildlife sanctuaries. There is only one on dry land: Kiwanis Ravine, a scant 9 acres. And from what we understand from Parks Staff, there is little-to-no chance of there ever being another wildlife sanctuary. The bar is set too high for any other natural areas to qualify.

    In other words, we’ve already stressed our urban nature so much, it is no longer considered “special” enough to merit sanctuary status. We think this is all the more reason to protect what little we have left.

    •Yes, the policy does include commercialization.

    Ropes courses are not free—the existing ones at Camp Long are not free. And “ropes course” is the same term Parks used interchangeably in the proposal for the GoApe zipline. Ziplines are not free. The policy does not limit uses to those that are free to all.

    •No, we are not “strict preservationists.”

    Our main goal as an organization and as individuals is helping people connect more deeply with nature. We emphatically do not want to keep people out of natural areas. In fact, last year, when we first found out about the plans, Denise sent the promoters of Cheasty Bike Skills Course an Open Letter, explaining our position, and offering to partner together to create a more equitable, open-to-everyone trail, that would help all people connect more deeply to nature. (The offer was not accepted.)

    But, we recognize that without wise planning, future Seattlites will not have the nature they’ll need for health and well being. And, without wise planning, wildlife will not have the nature they need to simply survive.

    That is why we launched our PETITION.

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