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Sword Ferns in Seward Park

Seward Park, located in Southeast Seattle, is considered one of our City’s finest green spaces. The 300 acres of forest land has eagles’ nests, an old growth forest, a 2.4-mile bike and walking path, an amphitheater, a native plant garden, an art studio, and miles of hiking trails, shoreline, beaches, and is home to Seward Park Audubon Center. It is known for the extensive variety and quality of vegetation it contains, and is home to the largest remaining conifer forest within city limits. The park is a popular destination, with an ever-widening array of users.

In the Fall of 2013, a park user noticed the deterioration of several sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) within Seward Park. The declining health continued being noticeable through the summer of 2014: a once dense area of sword fern on the southside of a slope near Hatchery Trail was now more than 90% dead, with bare soil, and no signs of plant regeneration. In subsequent years, the decline has spread, doubling in size every year. The impacted area now spans across 15-acres, or about 10% of the old growth forest.

Wanting to address this phenomenon, a working group was created in 2014. The group represents a wide range of skills, expertise, interests, and capacities. The group has met intermittently as a working group and as sub-committees over the course of the last several years.

Seattle Parks and Recreation has a vested interest in this work; having a healthy environment is core to our mission.

To learn more about this effort, please see this article at the Green Seattle Partnership website.