(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got wind of it, asked us about it, we reported on it, local community advocates organized against it, the proposal was withdrawn.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 Change.org 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.