February 13th, 2022: Sword ferns, what we have lost, what we are still losing; what we are still trying to figure out. I will update the February photo come June to provide a better comparison, but keep in mind that sword ferns are green all year long, and are now simply missing – dead and gone. (pshannon)

February 12th, 2022: Hemlocks, what we are losing – from the CHOOSE 180/FoSP summer project.

February 11th, 2022: This map is the product of 6 weeks of data collection last summer – focused on Western Hemlock decline and death in Seward’s old-growth forest. The project was led by FoSP, staffed by super competent interns from CHOOSE 180, and funded by a small Department of Neighborhoods grant. The photo below – the “Hemlock Graveyard”- is from the cluster of black and gray dots at the top of the map above.

February 2022, looking south. (pshannon)

Fiber Optic Internet Coming to Seward

Route marking for fiber-optic cable installation: digging begins soon

February 9th, 2022: If I understood the cable contractor correctly, digging will begin soon on a Seattle Parks-funded installation of high-speed fiber-optic cable, feeding the Audubon Center and the Pottery Studio. I will post schedule and budget as soon as I find out. (pshannon)

February 6th, 2022: Holly and ivy, popular at Christmas, are year-round deadly in Seward’s forest. Left to propagate and grow, they out-compete native species. Most of the forest was cleared of ivy between 2002 and 2006 in a massive and partly volunteer effort. But some eastside slopes north of the Fish Hatchery are seeing a resurgence. Here is a pile including both species, pulled and dug out this afternoon:

February 5th, 2022: A bald eagle did its best to catch a pair of river otters swimming in the lake off the southeast corner of the peninsula. As described to us, the otters submerged as the eagle dove for them, in several attempts, and each time escaped unharmed. The eagle eventually abandoned the chase, was joined by a second eagle, harassed by a pair of crows, and then moved on to other pursuits.

February 4th, 2022: Early signs of spring – osoberry leaves starting to emerge:

February 1st, 2022: Illegal camping in the old-growth forest. We received the report, then took these photos on a slope above Andrews Bay. Tomorrow we will contact Seattle Parks and SPD, maybe the mayor’s office also, to see what can be done. We offer sympathy to those in straitened circumstances, those left behind as Seattle inequities grow, and housing becomes increasingly expensive. But we do not wish to see Seward’s rare remnant old-growth forest become a campground.

Update (February 7th 2022): The tent remains, and an email from the City explained – plausibly, I think, that “our [ability to accomplish] removal of encampments is limited, with priority given to areas where there are the greatest health and public safety concerns.” I will keep an eye on the tent, which may be abandoned. It may have been associated with the now-removed derelict boat.

January 26th, 2022: A semi-derelict boat has been parked, listing slightly to one side,in Andrews Bay since early last Fall, with one or two part-time residents. Sometimes trash and refuse appeared on the shore. Numerous calls to SPD and the Harbor Patrol were answered graciously — and with the explanation that nothing could be done: the normal 48-hour maximum stay policy had been suspended. It seems that the city’s somewhat hands-off policy on inhabited RVs during the COVID-19 pandemic had been extended to boats . This week, however, the boat was towed away. We are grateful to SPD and Harbor Patrol – and to whoever in city government was responsible for returning Andrews Bay to pre-COVID policies.

On the initiative of mayor Bruce Harrell, SPD’s Harbor Patrol tow away the derelict boat. Photo courtesy of Joe Nascimento.

January 5th, 2022: Seattle Parks/GSP plant ecologist Michael Yadrick found funds to hire Signature Landscape Services of Redmond Washington to do more restoration in Seward’s old-growth forest. Last year, Signature did lots of planting, and subsequent irrigation in several acres of sword fern die-off near the cisterns, at the intersection of the sqebeqsed and Hatchery trails. The crew, led by Hamilton, is skilled, industrious, committed to the forest, and a pleasure to deal with.

This year, with yet more support from Michael, Signature installed about 200 young sword ferns in depleted areas on either side of the sqebeqsed trail. Half of these young ferns are the offspring of the Lazarus Fern, so-called because it was one of the few survivors of the initial die-off at Ground Zero – and unlike most of the other survivors, is located at a distance from large trees or downed wood. Volunteer David Perasso collected spores from the Lazarus Fern, grew them out in flats, then transferred them to the Parks nursery/greenhouse (thank you Johan!).

Michael, Johan, Eric Sterner and FoSP designed a simple experiment on the hypothesis that these Lazarus offspring may have an allele protective against the (still unknown) agent of the die-off, and therefore will have better survival than generic nursery ferns planted nearby. Hamilton and the Signature crew platned the Lazarus ferns and the generic controls into the latest dramatic die-off zone, described here. FoSP will monitor survival over the next five years. Many confounding factors muddy the picture, but perhaps some useful pattern will emerge.