Visiting Certified Community Wildlife Habitats

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Recently, I attended my third community wildlife habitat tour here in the Puget Sound region. This area is lucky to have a great number of National Wildlife Federation Certified Community Wildlife Habitats including some of the oldest. There are 30 active communities in the Puget Sound, 12 are certified, some registered while others are active and working towards getting their communities certified. The newest certified community, Sammamish achieved theirs in less than 2 years.

In addition to NWF certification, Washington homeowners have a triple certification option with two other partners. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuaryprogram and the NW Zoo & Aquarium Alliance also has a program, all of which can be certified with one joint application (PDF).

Several of the local certified community habitats conduct annual tours of…

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5 Great Parks – Seattle Edition

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

Every city has parks, however not all parks are created equal. Many are used primarily for recreation, others for dogs, but some are devoted to nature. Seattle is lucky to have a lot of parks, over 400 of them (counting open spaces) and the largest is over 500 acres. Following are five of my favorites to visit for nature. Many Seattlites may strongly disagree with my list because I’ve left off  the most obvious parks such as Discovery and Seward. While they’re nice parks to visit, I like the changes of these landscapes, and how they are situated, juxtaposed with the city. I’m focusing here on parks which are more designed, parks which were previously industrial sites or other changed landscapes.



Olympic Sculpture Park

Native plants, habitat…

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Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens Post:: A Visit to Kew Gardens

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

For anyone with an interest in botany and horticulture, Kew Royal Botanical Gardens in London is like the holy grail. Started in 1759, this garden is now over 250 years old and is full of history, research, conservation, wildlife and a massive collection of plants. The entire garden is now 132 hectares (300 acres) in size, a rather dramatic change from the original 9 acres. It has World Heritage status and contains the worlds most diverse botanical collections. This is where ‘Mad’ King George spent much of his ‘illness’ and the palace, built in 1631 is now open to the public. History can also be found in the gardens where you can step back in time and visit a nosegay garden, which was an apothecary garden or the Queen’s Garden which contains plants exclusively grown in Britain…

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Magnuson Park:: Reconstructed Wetlands

Magnuson Park is located in Seattle along Lake Washington, north of the University of Washington. The park has a long history of dramatic land use change and part of it has now come back full circle. In the days of early settlers the area was a wetlands, alder grove, and Douglas fir forest with trees up to six feet in diameter. In the following years the site saw a homestead, brickyard, shipyard and post office.  This landscape was altered in 1917 with the building of the canals and Ballard Locks when the level of Lake Washington was lowered by nine feet on the shores of Magnuson Park. The previous creek dried up and Mud Lake shrunk into a small pond. Later the land was changed even more dramatically when the Navy took it over. Nearly the entire area of the park was paved over for runways and Mud…

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Ballard Locks and Botanical Garden

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, have been moving boats and other vessels from the Puget Sound to Lake Washington and beyond since 1917.  The Army Corps of Engineers built and maintains the locks, garden, grounds and buildings. To the east of the locks is Salmon Bay, a freshwater bay connecting to the rest of the freshwater bodies including Lake Union and Lake Washington. To the west is Shilshole Bay, a saltwater bay which connects to the Puget Sound. Before the construction of the locks however, the waterway from Lake Union was only a small creek and Lake Union and Lake Washington were not connected either. Two cuts were created, the Fremont cut and the Montlake cut to connect it all together. Lake Washington was then lowered to the same level as Lake Union, about 9 feet. This changed the landscape which was discussed…

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Art Meets Habitat:: The Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle is a beautiful place. The 8.5 acre park sits alongside Elliott Bay, overlooking the Puget Sound, islands and the Olympic Mountains to the west, downtown Seattle to the south and the Space Needle to the east. The site is divided by a major street, railroad tracks and a bike path and yet appears seamlessly connected. The nearly nine acres brilliantly blend art, landscaping, views and native plant gardens by connecting a variety of landscapes. It’s a unique park, free and open to the public, but it’s owned and managed by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM).


The site has an interesting history starting in 1910 with Union Oil of California establishing a transfer facility as well as fuel storage. After years of use the site suffered from contaminated soil and ground water and had to go through a large cleanup effort headed by…

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