Environment 1659 results

VIDEO: ‘This kind of project isn’t supposed to happen!’ Celebrating Lowman Beach’s shoreline restoration

(WSB photos/video)

At today’s celebration of the shoreline-restoration project at Lowman Beach Park, Duwamish Tribe member Ken Workman shared the area’s historic name: gWal, or “capsize.” That certainly was once a risk for the at-times-controversial project, which took years of building public support and seeking grant funding to become reality. The project was originally centered on removing the crumbling north seawall at Lowman, but expanded to removing its beloved waterfront tennis court and daylighting the end of Pelly Creek.

The creek end won’t really come into its own until the fall/winter rains. But the expanded shore that replaced all but a small northern stub of seawall has been a joy for park visitors since the project’s completion earlier this summer:

Before this morning’s ribboncutting, there were speeches, emceed by Deb Barker, president of the Morgan Community Association, which hosted many community discussions about Lowman – as she observed, “This kind of project isn’t supposed to happen,” and yet it beat the odds:

Other speakers in our video were Workman, deputy mayor Greg Wong, who marveled at Lowman’s natural beauty, longtime acting Parks superintendent (and former West Seattleite) Christopher Williams, and Kathryn Gardow, representing the state agency that provided some of the funding. They were all joined in the ribbon-cutting by two local students, Ken from Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) and Ezra from Gatewood Elementary. The celebration also featured The Whale Trail – Lowman is a great spot for shore-based whale-watching – and Alki Kayak Tours/Mountain to Sound Outfitters (WSB sponsor) with stand-up paddleboarding demos. Williams also acknowledged the community:

Not only did nearby residents endure months of work on this project, but as Williams observed, they also had been through years of work on King County’s Murray Wet Weather Facility across the street (dedicated in 2017). His acknowledgment also included the Parks managers who made the project happen – David Graves shepherded it for years, including seeking grants:

And Janice Liang managed the project through its construction:

P.S. Looking into our archives for this story, we found this 2010 WSB clip with a 360-degree view of what Lowman Beach Park used to look like (not only before this project, but before the overflow facility across the street, which replaced a block of residences).

WEST SEATTLE WEEKEND SCENE: Drop-off recycling in Fauntleroy

No waiting in the lot at Fauntleroy Church when we went over to check on the early turnout at today’s Recycle Roundup. Just drive/ride/walk into the lot at 9140 California SW, and the crews from 1 Green Planet will assist you in getting your recyclables into one of their big green containers..

This is free (though you can donate to help them cover the costs if you want to). The list of what they’re accepting, and not accepting, this time is here.

REMINDER: Recycle Roundup at Fauntleroy Church on Saturday

(WSB photo from April’s Recycle Roundup)

Reminding you one last time because this is happening on Saturday (September 24th) instead of the traditional Sunday – tomorrow’s the day you can bring non-curbside-friendly recyclables to Fauntleroy Church. The fall Recycle Roundup is set for 9 am-3 pm in the church lot at 9140 California SW [map] – drive up, ride up, walk up to drop off your item(s). Here’s the list of what the church’s recycling partner 1 Green Planet will and won’t accept this time. It’s free, but if you want to donate something to help cover the cost, they’ll welcome it. And one more request, they hope to avoid a last-minute jam, so if you can possibly bring your recyclables in before the last hour, that’s appreciated too.

About the early-morning protest heard in north West Seattle

Some readers on the north side of the peninsula asked about what sounded like protesting/chanting early this morning. While we were trying to sleuth the source, a one-line alert from the Northwest Seaport Alliance that Terminal 5 was closed for the day helped us zero in on the port. The resulting inquiries finally pointed us to a tweet (since deleted) in which Climate Action Families took credit, saying “Today we shut down SSA Marine Port of Seattle Terminal 5. Cargo carrier MSC could plug ships into shore power, but chooses not to.” MSC is the shipping line that uses the recently overhauled north berth at Terminal 5 in West Seattle. In the initial months after it opened, we followed up repeatedly on whether the shore-power capability was being used; the answer was “no” last time we checked. Early on, it was described as an issue caught up in labor negotiations. We’re following up to learn its status; we also have an inquiry out with Climate Action Families.

Yes, that’s wildfire smoke

(WSB photo, noon: Olympics hidden by smoke)

Lots of questions this morning about a smoky smell in the air. Authorities confirm a plume of smoke from the 11-day-old Bolt Creek fire, and if you check out air-quality maps – like this one – things are not looking good right now. This will be a problem until the wind shifts directions.

COUNTDOWN: 4 days until Recycle Roundup in Fauntleroy

That’s the Fauntleroy Church/YMCA lot – empty when we photographed it Monday evening but sure to be bustling Saturday (September 24th), the next twice-yearly Recycle Roundup. The church partners with 1 Green Planet to offer you free dropoff recycling for a variety of items – here’s the list of what they will and won’t accept this time. Just show up between 9 am and 3 pm (the earlier the better so the volunteers don’t have to deal with a late rush); the church is at 9140 California SW. And yes, though it’s usually been on Sundays, this time the Recycle Roundup is on Saturday.

RECYCLE ROUNDUP: Fall dropoff event now less than 4 weeks away

(WSB photo, April 24)

If you’ve been piling up electronics and other non-curbside recyclables, waiting for Fauntleroy Church‘s next dropoff Recycle Roundup, you have less than four weeks left to wait. This time around, it’s on a Saturday, not Sunday – September 24th is the date, same time window as usual, 9 am-3 pm. Here’s the list of what the church’s Recycle Roundup partner, 1 Green Planet, will and won’t take this time. On September 24th, just drive/ride/walk into the church lot at 9140 California and drop off your recyclables. The service is free, though the Green Committee is always happy to accept cash donations to help cover its cost.

VIDEO: Cleanup continues at former flour-mill dock at north end of Duwamish River

(King County video, photo)
That video shows one of the many cleanup operations along the polluted Duwamish River – in this case, a King County-led project removing almost 2,000 creosote-contaminated pilings that are part of a “derelict timber dock” on west Harbor Island. This week the county sent an update on the $8 million project, which is expected to be complete by the end of September. Barge-based equipment has been pulling the pilings up for “safe disposal offsite”; after all the pilings are dealt with, “crews will remove the concrete bulkhead and other dock components on land and stabilize the shoreline,” the update says.

The old dock is part of the former Fisher Flour Mills site that the county bought almost 20 years ago; as part of the deal, an “aquatic lease” with the state was transferred to the county, and its requirements led to this cleanup project, as explained here.

WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Small ceremony for a big tree

(WSB photos)

To the untrained eye, this tree might look like just another one of the many towering evergreens in Lincoln Park. It’s not.

It’s a Giant Sequoia (redwood), officially declared a Seattle Heritage Tree, thanks to the efforts of Al Rouyer:

Rouyer is a retired college educator. He specialized in political science, particularly Middle Eastern affairs – and took an interest in trees after retiring. Studying the trees in Lincoln Park is what led him to seek the designation for this one, estimated at 100 years old and more than 150 feet tall. He said most people walk through the park and have no idea that there’s so many kinds of trees and that some are worthy of special recognition, like this one in the north end of the park. Instead of getting a big fancy plaque, he opted for this simple tag:

Friends joined him today for a small gathering to commemorate the designation and celebrate the tree:

As explained by Plant Amnesty, the Heritage Tree designation does not confer any legal protection – but the organization hopes it will encourage tree preservation (which happens to be back in the news this week – we hope to write more about that this weekend).

SURVEY: Questions for you as planning continues for West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility million-gallon overflow tank

The return of rain today is a reminder that summer won’t last forever. Heavy rains in other seasons sometimes bring sewer overflows into local waterways. As we’ve been reporting, another big storage tank is planned for West Seattle to reduce overflows into the Duwamish River. A 1,250,000-gallon underground storage tank is at the heart of what’s now being called the West Duwamish Wet Weather Storage Facility. As shown on the map above, it will be west of the 1st Avenue South Bridge (on land currently owned by the port), with other components of the project nearby. The planning process has now arrived at the next phase of public comments, with an online open house and survey now available. The King County Wastewater Treatment District‘s announcement explains, “This project will not only protect the future health of the Duwamish River, but can also benefit the neighborhood through creative design elements – and you can help us decide what elements to include on site. Additionally, our team will seek opportunities to support community-driven initiatives in the nearby neighborhoods. Help us design a facility and support local projects that are true to your values.” Info about the project is in the online open house; the survey is here. If the planning process proceeds as currently scheduled, construction would start in 2025.

P.S. You can also talk with KCWTD reps about the project at this Saturday’s Duwamish River Festival, noon-5 pm at the new Duwamish River People’s Park (8700 Dallas Ave. S., South Park).

FOLLOWUP: Cormorant Cove beach reopened after four weeks

Four weeks after health/water-quality authorities closed Cormorant Cove Park‘s beach because of water contamination from a private sewer-line link, the beach is finally clear to reopen. Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Sabrina Register tells WSB the warning signs are being taken down. Cormorant Cove, in the 3700 block of Beach Drive SW, was the last area to reopen; the original closure stretched all the way from Alki Point to the SW Andover beach access, and most of it was cleared to reopen a week and a half ago. At the time, though, SPU said that while the leak at Harbor West had been fixed, unexplained bacterial concerns lingered at Cormorant Cove.

FOLLOWUP: Constellation Park cleared of contamination concerns, but not Cormorant Cove

(Tuesday photo of signage at Cormorant Cove, where SPU says it’ll stay up)

An update from Seattle Public Utilities, 16 days after we first reported that contamination concerns had led to beach closures south of Alki Point. SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register says signs were removed today from Constellation Park (Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint) “after water samples showed acceptable levels of bacteria.” However, she added. “Signs will remain in place at Cormorant Cove Beach, keeping the area closed to water activities, until samples indicate acceptable levels.” The original problem has been fixed, she says, so they’re not sure yet what the problem is: “On July 13, a property owner on Beach Drive repaired its broken side sewer that had been discharging into the water. Because bacteria levels remain high at Cormorant Cove, additional sources of the elevated bacteria are being investigated.” Register told us a week ago that SPU planned to “issue a notice of violation … after determining cost-recovery needs”; no new information on that yet.

VIDEO: Boeing ecoDemonstrator’s West Seattle flyby

Thanks for the tips, and to Nate Miller for the video! That jet’s low flyby over northwest West Seattle this past hour was courtesy of BoeingFlightradar24 identifies it as the “ecoDemonstrator” jet, a 777-200ER with its underside painted with POWERED BY SAF – short for Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Here’s a closer look in a photo tweeted by Bill Schrier:

(The smaller plane accompanying it is not identified on the tracker – possibly for photography.) You can read about the ecoDemonstrator program on Boeing’s website.

Protecting part of Fauntleroy Creek – with volunteers and coconuts

(Photo by Judy Pickens – volunteers Steve Winter and Tim Wulfekuhle)

Coconuts are tropical, but here in the decidedly non-tropical Northwest, they’re helping save a stretch of West Seattle’s Fauntleroy Creek. The photo and update are from Judy Pickens:

Several years ago, increased flows during the rainy season began eroding a section of bank in lower Fauntleroy Creek. In response, the Fauntleroy Watershed Council got state approval to install coconut-fiber coir logs to stabilize the bank and encourage vegetation. Today, volunteers Steve Winter, Mark Sears, Tim Wulfekuhle, and Pete Draughon lugged five replacement logs down to the creek and staked them into place.

Private donations to the Fauntleroy Watershed Stewardship Fund enable the council to respond before such small problems seriously threaten restored habitat. Find out more about this fund at fauntleroywatershed.org.

FOLLOWUP: No all-clear yet for beaches south of Alki Point

(WSB photo, Cormorant Cove Park, last week)

No all-clear yet, more than a week after a private sewer line was discovered to be leaking into Puget Sound from condos south of Alki Point. That’s according to Sabrina Register of Seattle Public Utilities, which is monitoring the situation. We asked her about the action, if any, to be taken against the responsible party. Her reply:

Seattle Public Utilities notifies property owners when their privately owned wastewater lines are broken or malfunctioning, as property owners are responsible for maintaining their lines. Broken or malfunctioning lines can sometimes discharge sewage into water bodies. Staff consult with them on corrective action that needs to be taken to prevent further discharges.

The property owner associated with the sewer discharge on Beach Drive has been issued notice of violations for sewer discharge into Puget Sound, including in 2021.

SPU is planning to issue a notice of violation for this most recent discharge after determining cost recovery needs.

We’ll be following up again next week.

FOLLOWUP: Results of city’s ‘geoclean’ amid Harbor Avenue RVs

Since learning last week that the city planned an “intense one-day ‘geoclean'” of the Harbor Avenue RV area this week, we checked the area every morning and afternoon, looking for signs of “intense” activity. Monday morning, we saw a truck doing junk pickup, and police standing by. Today, Seattle Public Utilities confirmed that Monday was the “geoclean” day – spokesperson Sabrina Register told WSB, “Crews collected 5,000 lbs. of trash and debris from Harbor Ave SW ​& SW Harbor Lane.” This was not a sweep like the most recent Andover/26th cleanup, however; nine RVs remain on Harbor at our last count, though some have moved from the north side of the street to the south side,

FOLLOWUP: Contamination closure continues south of Alki Point

The signs are still up on the shoreline south of Alki Point, as the closure continues because of contamination from sewage pipes leaking at a nearby condo complex since last week. Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Sabrina Register tells WSB today that “As a precaution, signs are still in place. Water samples will be taken as soon as the property owner makes repairs to its side sewer. SPU has been notified that the repair work is scheduled for tomorrow.” So you’ll want to continue staying off those shores – from Constellation Park to the SW Andover access point – at least one more day. The Seattle Aquarium beach-naturalist program also has canceled its planned Constellation Park visit tomorrow (but will still have a presence at Lincoln Park, 9:30 am-1 pm Wednesday).

YOU CAN HELP: Four ‘Block Drop’ DIY cleanup chances in Delridge this week

We reported earlier this month on Block Drops, a project created by local Girl Scouts Paige, Evelyn, and Emma to make it easier for community members to clean up their neighborhoods. On behalf of the project, local cleanup organizer Erik Bell sent word that four Block Drops are planned in Delridge this week – four daylong chances for you to go get equipment, do a bit of cleanup, and know that the results will be tended to. Here are the dates and locations where supplies will be available (pickup and dropoff), 9 am-5 pm each day:

Monday, July 11 – Dragonfly Pavilion (28th & Dakota)
Tuesday, July 12 – Delridge & Findlay
Thursday, July 14 – Cottage Grove Park (26th & Brandon)
Friday, July 15 – Delridge Playfield (26th & Genesee)

These Block Drops are listed here, and you can watch that webpage for others coming up.

WEST SEATTLE BEACHES: Condo sewage leak closes shoreline south of Alki Point

(WSB photo, Cormorant Cove Park)

Thanks for the tip about the warning signs up along part of West Seattle’s shores. Waterfront areas south of Alki Point are posted as “closed” because of water pollution. We asked Seattle Public Utilities about it and just received this statement detailing the reason for, and location of, the closures:

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) Spill Response was notified Tuesday afternoon of a potential sewage discharge from a condominium complex located on Beach Drive. The source of the sewage does not involve SPU infrastructure. SPU crews are working to determine the number of units that may be discharging. No discharge volume estimate is available at this time.

Per protocol, SPU notified Dept. of Ecology, Public Health-Seattle & King County, and Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Signs are posted at public access points including Cormorant Cove Parklet, Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint at Alki beach, and the Andover Place street end beach access. Once the discharge has stopped, SPU will conduct sampling to determine if the beach may be reopened.

SPU property owners are responsible for maintaining their sewer lines, and any discharges from unmaintained lines can result in fines.

Charles Richey Viewpoint includes the area more commonly known as Constellation Park.

YOU CAN HELP: New West Seattle DIY cleanup concept, starting today

The report and photo are from community-cleanup superhero Erik Bell:

I’m excited to announce a new West Seattle cleanup initiative my daughter and two of her Girl Scout troop mates are launching this week called Block Drops for their Silver Award project — the highest service award for Girl Scout Cadettes (6th-8th graders).

Block Drops are an open invitation to the community to come out and clean West Seattle on your own time, using cleanup stations we’ll drop off in different neighborhood locations each week. We then come back later in the day to take care of the collected trash with the help of Seattle Public Utilities.

Paige, Evelyn, and Emma developed their project over the pandemic hoping to engage fellow West Seattleites to become the solution to a cleaner community. Their program offers weekly opportunities to live up to the Scouting ideal of leaving the world a better place than we found it.

Read more about their program at byandby.org/block-drops and join in on their first Drop Friday at Alki Beach (9 am-3 pm), or any of the four Drops they’ll be making next week.

Block Drops…the easiest cleanup in town!

26TH/JUNEAU: City says it will ‘remove’ encampment site

The city says the encampment site at 26th/Juneau will be removed/cleaned up. That, following a fire less than a week after last week’s murder, all of which have neighbors at wit’s end after what they say has been two years of a “nightmare.” We were CC’d on photos one group sent with a note to City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, including this one showing burned debris.

The photos also showed containers like these:

Neighbor Molly pleaded in the note, after detailing two years of trouble, “I urge you to do something immediately to clean up this toxic site on our once-beautiful Longfellow Creek and help the campers before they do even more damage to themselves and our beautiful green-space.”

Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Sabrina Register has been a conduit for city info about removals/cleanups/remediations, so we asked her on Monday about the site and got this reply today:

Seattle Public Utilities has not scheduled the site for remediation as it does not meet the criteria of five or more RVs. Seattle Parks and Recreation has scheduled crews to remove the encampment and clean up the area. Removal and cleanup dates are not shared publicly as resources such as staffing can change.

Seattle is partnering with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and outreach providers to coordinate outreach to encampment locations that may be subject to removal with the goal of offering shelter to all those residing onsite.

In a reply yesterday to Molly’s note, Councilmember Herbold said she had spoken to Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Martin Rivera about the site last week, before the fire, and said that she too had heard the site was scheduled for cleanup. Herbold also noted that Rivera “told me how people experiencing homelessness who had previously lived at that location had been very helpful in the investigation leading to them identifying the murder suspect for arrest.” And she said that she regularly meets with Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, adding, “I have reviewed locations in District 1 that SFD data demonstrates have a history of repeat fires and that may be vulnerable to fire damage, including around encampments. This has, in some cases, resulted in City efforts to reduce likelihood of fires by cutting nearby brush.” But otherwise her reply included nothing else specific about this particular site. Molly, meantime, told us today there’s been some cleanup, but “it’s still a very toxic site. You can smell the plastic etc.” And she says campers that have already left the site have just moved to another spot along the creekside trail.

FOLLOWUP: Fencing removed at Lowman Beach Park

(WSB photo, this morning)

2:29 PM: If you’re looking forward to full access at Lowman Beach Park now that the seawall-removal/habitat-restoration project is over, you don’t have long to wait. More of the fencing has been removed – the south section that had temporarily displayed art by Gatewood Elementary fourth-graders – and the rest, which is mostly near the park’s big trees, will be down soon, confirms Seattle Parks spokesperson Karen O’Connor: “The fencing on Lowman Beach should all be down this week and the district crew will finish mowing around the trees to make the area more accessible to the public. The grass did get long during the construction.” The construction lasted about eight months, which was the duration estimated when work on the $1.2 million project began last fall.

7:50 PM: Just went by again – the rest of the fencing is now gone.

Footbridge, trail, art ahead as ‘natural drainage systems’ work expands to 24th/Kenyon

About a block east of Denny International Middle School, where SW Kenyon bends northward into 24th SW, a tangle of blackberry vines all but hides the public trail that leads to a footbridge over Longfellow Creek and, beyond, toward Delridge Way. Seattle Public Utilities is about to give the area a major makeover as part of its “natural drainage systems” work. SPU expects to start work this week that will result in:

*New walkway, bridge, and boardwalk to make it easier for people to get to nearby schools, homes, and bus stops

*Natural drainage systems to reduce pollution in Longfellow Creek

*Art installation to enhance the space and connect community to the creek

The artist is Brian Borrello from Portland. Here’s a rendering from the design presentation (which you can see in full here):

According to the construction alert SPU says it’s sent to neighbors, work will last about six months. The streets are expected to remain open but there will be pedestrian detours. This is part of a larger project that includes work along 24th further south, and will include work at Sylvan/Orchard, as explained in this “online open house.”