When people picture the Pacific Northwest, visions of mountains and lush greenery come to mind. Though our infamous rain fall helps, maintaining Seattle’s urban forests and keeping our city healthy and green is a big job. Green Seattle Partnership (GSP) was created to aid in that effort. GSP turns 10 years old this year, and the organization has a lot to celebrate.
The Green Seattle Partnership is a unique public-private venture dedicated to promoting a livable city by re-establishing and maintaining healthy urban forests. It was created in 2004 by a Memorandum of Agreement between the City of Seattle and the Cascade Land Conservancy (now known as Forterra). The GSP is a 20-year investment in the restoration of our forests.
The GSP works with many community partners such as EarthCorps and Goodwill. The GSP has trained more than 200 volunteer forest stewards who lead volunteer work parties throughout the city. The GSP coordinates with Seattle Parks crews and plant ecologists to ensure its volunteers are equipped with mulch, plants and necessary tools to complete their work.
Seattle’s urban forests were damaged as a result of 150 years of logging, view clearing and neglect. The trees were plagued with invasive plants like Himalayan blackberry and ivy. Of the 3,700 acres of openspace managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation, GSP was tasked with restoring 2,500 acres of forested parklands.
GSP representatives have been busy reaching out to Seattle communities and businesses to educate people and get them involved in environmental stewardship. And their efforts have paid off. After 10 years, GSP has enrolled 1,299 acres of parklands into restoration. Between 2005 and August 2014, people donated 694,159 volunteer hours to the organization. So how were those hours spent?
GSP forest stewards and volunteers have removed 816 acres of invasive species, installed 528,806 plants and watered 1,023,538. In fact, this year, GSP’s work was credited with helping make Seattle the most sustainable city in the nation.
In its next 10 years, GSP hopes to enter nearly 1,500 more acres into restoration, restore trails and make tree canopy coverage more equitable across Seattle neighborhoods.
According to Seattle Parks Plant Ecologist Michael Yadrick, once our urban forests are healthy, keeping them that way becomes pretty straightforward.
“You can stack the deck in favor of native plants and make life hard for the invasives,” Yadrick said. “You can help the Green Seattle Partnership change the outcome of the battle by getting out there and removing the invasive plants, replanting the natives and monitoring their growth for future health. If you do it right, that victory will last.”
The GSP’s biggest volunteer push of the year, Green Seattle Day, is coming up on Saturday, Nov. 8.