From the ‘in case you wondered too’ file: About the tree-cutting in Schmitz Preserve Park

(Added: WSB photo; trees were removed along the left – north – side)

Katherine emailed to ask what we could find out about “all the tree cutting that happened along Schmitz Park Boulevard between the entrance at Whale Tail Park and the bridge? They cut down about 5 or 6 big trees.” We took the question to Seattle Parks and Recreation, since Schmitz Preserve Park is a city park, 51 forested acres between west Admiral and Alki, donated to the city more than a decade ago.

(Satellite image from Google Maps)

A Parks spokesperson explained that the tree-cutting is part of the Olmsted Parks and Boulevards Restoration Project, one of three sites around the city, the only one in West Seattle. The project overview says the specific goal is “to make permanent an informal pathway up a steep hillside for safety.” Specifically, Parks told us in response to our inquiry, their crews are “in the process of removing eleven Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Sycamore maples’ along Schmitz Boulevard. The trees being removed were assessed as being in poor condition and host to a number of fungal pathogens. These trees are being replaced two for one through a generous donation by the Friends of Olmsted Parks.” The project has its roots in a study and survey we featured two years ago.

8 Replies to "From the 'in case you wondered too' file: About the tree-cutting in Schmitz Preserve Park"

  • west sea neighbor April 14, 2021 (3:56 pm)

    The project has its roots in a study and survey we featured two years ago.”

    I see what you did there. Nice one, WSB ;)

  • JohnW April 14, 2021 (4:22 pm)

    After ferreting out Parks Dept. allowing tree topping (even though its against all guidelines and specifically banned), their excuse is a prior legal document allowing this practice when the lands were donated.- Could these homeowners shoot bald eagles if that were part of an old legal agreement? -Seeing that these park lands are also donated, I wonder if trees were part of that agreement? This is a hillside of $2,000,000 homes when they become available.   Those showplace residences rely on un-obstructed views they have long enjoyed.  And history proves that they will go to great expense, legal risk and lasting public humiliation to retain ‘their views.’The Parks dept has a history of not following the ECA codes as shown by citations.   I appreciate this heads up to start a long inquiry into whether Parks has followed the requirements of this Steep Slope.  I imagine that will require a formal public records request followed by months of COVID delays.  

  • WS Tree Lover April 14, 2021 (5:14 pm)

    Thank you so much to WSB for all this excellent information, such a relief to understand the plan and benefit to this beloved park and its beautiful trees!

  • Katherine McDaniel April 14, 2021 (6:13 pm)

    Thank you for this update!  Glad to hear the parks will be replanting thanks to the Friends of Olmsted Parks.  

  • onion April 14, 2021 (9:42 pm)

    Delighted to see Schmitz getting some TLC. My wife and I were just discussing the large number of ailing or dead trees in Lincoln Park. I hope there is also a plan to maintain and restore that jewel of our park system.

  • wssz April 15, 2021 (6:02 am)

    Removing these trees is clearly necessary. However, the timing at the height of nesting season should always be avoided unless a tree is at risk of coming down.  Not sure why they can’t wait until September, when nesting season is over. 

  • JohnW April 15, 2021 (9:36 am)

    A Restorartion Plan fully detailing the restoration of these Critical Areas is a  requirement.  
    This plan must be prepared by a “qualified proffessional” and detail the placement of each replacement tree.  
    The trees must be selected from an approved list.  
    The Parks Dept is required to follow the same codes and rules as the public.  
    This does not always happen.
    Our city has growing multi-million dollar backlog in deferred maintenance.  
    Our urban forests are in their last gasps after decades of decline .  Monocultures are now dominant.  
    The ‘good trees,’  the native firs and evergreens best for our environment are now rare.  
    Next time you are stuck in traffic on Highland Park Way, take a look around, re-imagine city hillside as the healthy forest that existed before.
    Another advantage of healthy non-monoculture trees is that they do not threaten the road, safety of people and  knock down power lines. 
    We all love shiny new things like new parks projects to wallow in The Process, but simple maintenance of our urban forests have no  immediate ‘shine.’  

    No politicians and local activists making speeches, just a well supported staff of arborists with maintenance  crews to carry it out.

  • Flivver April 15, 2021 (4:53 pm)

    JohnW. Family member cut down a LOT of trees to reclaim their water view. They live on Genesee Hill. They filled out ALL the city required forms, paid the permit fee and got their permits No questions asked. If “legal risk” and “public humiliation” is important then start with the city. 

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