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Mowing scheduled in Discovery Park, other parks due to brush fire danger

Beginning, Saturday, July 11, Seattle Parks and Recreation crews will mow areas of high grass in the north and central parts of Discovery Park in Magnolia due to concerns over potential brushfires.

Unusually dry, hot weather in Seattle this summer has created potential fire hazards in parks and natural areas throughout the city.

The grass in these areas of Discovery Park has not been mowed from March 15 through mid-July to accommodate ground-nesting bird species. Because the nesting season started earlier this year due to warm weather, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff believe the birds may have completed their nesting early.

Working in consultation with the Seattle Audubon Society, Parks staff will check the area to ensure the ground nesting birds have left the area and will mow in patches to flush any remaining birds so they can move to other habitat. Only areas that present a brushfire hazard will be mowed; there will be ample space and habitat for wildlife within the park. At 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park.

“We are trying to balance care and concern for wildlife habitat with the very real threat of brush fires in these unusually warm and dry conditions,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Fires in the park would pose a danger to park visitors and nearby neighborhoods and be potentially devastating to wildlife.”

“Seattle Audubon appreciates the care that Parks and Recreation is taking with this mowing, and we support the reduction of fire hazard in a way that minimally disturbs birds and other wildlife,” said Brian Windrope, Executive Director, Seattle Audubon Society. “This partnership between our staff and volunteers and Parks staff will be beneficial for birds and people!”

“Vigilant prevention is the key to keeping the visitors and local neighbors safe from the potential danger of brush fires,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “Due to the dry conditions, local firefighters have proactively conducted pre-fire inspections of Discovery Park. During these inspections fire crews surveyed access roads, hydrants and developed action plans in case a fire occurs inside the park. Keeping our residents and visitors safe is our top priority.”

“It is also important that each resident takes the time to clear any dead or dry brush from around their homes to break the chain if a fire does occur,” says Fire Chief Scoggins. ”Remember, fire safety is all of our responsibility!”

As a preventative measure during dry weather spells, Parks crews mow dry grass as low as possible so there’s less fuel to catch fire. In Discovery Park the mowing will include Bay Terrace in the north area of park; around and the near the historic buildings in the south central area of the park; around the perimeter of the historic Horse Barns in the central area of the park; and the lighthouse station in the far west point of the park.

In the past two weeks, at least seven small fires have burned at several Seattle parks, including one at Discovery Park near the lighthouse. Parks crews will be following similar mowing practices in two dozen other parks and natural areas in the city.

In future years, Seattle Audubon will work with Seattle Parks and Recreation to assess fire risks in parks and help the department adjust mowing plans and fire safety measures to balance the need to protect wildlife habitat and address fire danger.