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Frequently Asked Questions about the Yesler SwampTrail

What is the Yesler Swamp?

The Yesler Swamp includes 6 acres of swampland at the outflow of Yesler Creek, and borders an Unmanaged Wildlife Area just west of the lagoon. A “swamp” is different from a wetland in that it contains both woodlands and wetland. Birds and wildlife exist in profusion in the Yesler Swamp, and native plants include Spruce, Cedar, Yew, Willow and Mountain Ash. Parts of the swamp are submerged during the wet season.

What is the Yesler Swamp Trail project?

Friends of Yesler Swamp have joined forces with the University of Washington Botanic Gardens to restore the native plants of the Yesler Swamp, protect and conserve local wildlife, and minimize human impact on the wetlands.

As part of these restoration efforts, the project supports the creation of a handicap accessible natural wetland trail. The trail would offer views of the wetlands, the beaver dam, and an enclosed lagoon, while directing human foot traffic away from these sensitive areas. The plan is not finalized, and we are seeking input and support from the wider community who enjoy the trail.

When did this project get started?

In many ways, the groundwork for this project was laid in 1852, when Henry Yesler opened the Yesler Sawmill on Elliott Bay. The Yesler Swamp was used as a holding area for logs for the mill. Since that time, the area has been compromised by invasive plant species.

More immediately, a plan for the Yesler Swamp was drawn up by UW students of Plant Ecology in 2004, when initial restoration of native species was performed by a teamĀ  from the University of Washington Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN).

Late in 2009, Friends of Yesler Swamp was organized to work with the UW Botanic Gardens staff and faculty to rehabilitate, protect and preserve Yesler Swamp.

Who is involved?

Dr. Kern Ewing, UW professor of plant ecology has given his expertise and knowledge of local history to the project. Also providing advise and expertise on the project are UW professors Steve West (vertebrate ecology and conservation), Russell Link (wildlife biology), Jennifer Ruesink (ecology) and John Marzluff (wildlife-habitat relationships, avian social ecology and demography).

Friends of Yesler Swamp’s current steering committee includes Carol Arnold, Art Feinglass, Fred Hoffer, and Jean Colley.

Won’t a trail have an impact on the plants and wildlife of a swamp?

Yes and no. The trail would be a human presence in the swamp, but it is important to remember that there is also a human presence in the swamp now, composed of garbage, “social trails” and invasive plant species.

Not only will the swamp trail project remove invasive plants and restore the fauna that supports local wildlife, but the boardwalk trail will also help preserve the fragile ecosystem of the swamp, by directing foot traffic off of the “social trails,” and on to a raised path. This trail would allow wild animals to go about their business unimpeded, and would draw traffic away from sensitive sites such as bird nests and the beaver dam.

For more information on the environmental impact of the swamp trail project, please refer to the “Why a Trail?” page, for the comments of Professor Kern Ewing and his colleagues at the University of Washington.

Will the cottonwood trees be impacted by this project?

No trees will be removed as part of this project. In fact, additional native trees are being planted. The cottonwood trees in particular will be protected, as part of the restoration effort is to remove the ivy which currently chokes their trunks. These poplar trees provide favorite roosting spots for local crows, Red-Tailed Hawks, Northern Flickers, Steller’s Jays, and Bald Eagles, to name a few.

Hey! Where did the comments on the blog go?

We are grateful for the thoughtful comments shared by neighbors and community members, both on this site and in project meetings. We found that responding to comments on month-old blog posts proved unwieldy (we’d find ourselves answering the same question 11 times– and we’re sorry that it took us so long to get back to some of you!) so we’ve switched to email correspondence. However, since there were so many great questions raised in the comments, we’ve added them to the FAQ section, right here! Email us more questions, and we’ll post them on the FAQ! You can find us at yeslerswamptrail@gmail.com.

How Can I Help?

Thank you! If you’d like to jump in and get your feet wet (and muddy!), you can volunteer to help pick up litter and remove invasive plants, including English Ivy, Canary Grass, and Himalayan Blackberry. Or, if you’d like to be involved in the planning of the trail, you can watch the blog for upcoming steering committee meetings and community events.

If you have questions or comments, please contact the Friends of the Yesler Swamp at yeslerswamptrail@gmail .com.

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