This project built a new torii, or Japanese gate, near the site of the 26-foot timber torii that once stood at the entrance to Seward Park. Built in 1934 by Seattle’s Japanese American community as part of the International Potlatch celebration, the original torii was removed in the mid-1980s due to decay. The new torii is made from basalt columns (hashira) and red cedar crossbeams (nuki and kasagi). Other improvements at the site include a pathway (sando) and plaza that meet ADA requirements for accessibility. The path passes by the foundations of the original torii as it leads to the new one, reminding visitors of the strong ties between the Japanese community and the rest of Seattle.
Sword ferns are dying off at an alarming rate in the middle of the Magnificent Forest. The Friends have been working with Seattle Parks and Recreation, plant pathologists from Washington State University, and research ecologists from the University of Washington to try to understand what is happening. Research plots have been established to monitor how the die-off progresses and to test simple hypotheses about why the ferns are dying. Currently we are making a movie to use for fundraising to support further research.
Looking forward, we will need to survey the forest – in detail – at regular intervals. A mix of restoration strategies will likely be needed; small-scale scrupulously monitored restoration experiments should be tried. “Benign neglect” restoration should be tried as well: we know what happens to denuded, unrestored areas five years after ferns dies. What happens after 20? Invasive removal is once again urgent, twenty years after the IVY O.U.T projects. Invasive monitoring and response will be a permanent activity for the Friends of Seward Park.