Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seahurst Park - Burien, WA

Christine Froschl, Outreach and Volunteer Manager, is a highly experienced field biologist who is passionate about sharing her marine encounters with people of all ages. With a B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz, Christinehas assisted the Monterey Bay Aquarium with its research on southern sea otters; worked with NOAA in assessing vessel impacts on the southern resident killer whale population; and lastly, partnered with the National Marine Fisheries Service in maintaining a sustainable pollock fishery in the Bering Sea. Her most recent accomplishments have been empowering young students, women especially, to pursue careers in math and science.  Skilled in bridging the disconnect between every day people and hard science, it is Christine’s goal to create and embrace a diverse community of passionate individuals who want to protect Puget Sound. Her life is the sea. 

Seahurst Park before the restoration whit the Bulkhead/seawall that Man built to  create flat land for the park. The result was a a great natural beach that eroded away from the action between the wall and the water.
A youtube presentation on the Restoration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOI4MaEQBi8&feature=youtu.be

I think the lower parking access is brand new but they immediately built barriers to limit the environmental impact of the intrusion. I assume these ponds will catch the run off and filter through natural drainage.

I guess the concrete is necessary due to the adjacent parking lot.

There is a Gravel service road at the base of the "uplands" that runs from the parking lot to the Environmental Science Center and the Marine Tech Lab.

Another concrete structure, I am sure to improve access to all but since concrete was part of the initial problem to nature, I am sure they had to think long and hard about this.  There are always competing agendas from the funding sources for projects such as this so there has to be some give and take.

These logs were obviously arranged by humans but it is a start to restoration and hopefully nature gets to take over to from here.

We got there at around 10:30 so the tide was near slack at low tide.

Here you can see the previous nights hide tide mark. A line in the Rock Beach. Water just as easily seems to move palm sized rocks as easy as grains of sand.

Super clear water.

No wind and very little current if any at this time.

The North Creek had a healthy stream of water flowing, I learned later that a lot of the hills have natural springs which may have been feeding this stream since it has not rained much in early March.
See: http://youtu.be/jvVUfH1TiJY

a little help from man to help the stream under the service road.

I'm guessing these structures are Salmon ladders.

The playground tries to blend in but I am thinking kids of all ages could find plenty to keep them entertained without a man made playground.

The Beauty runs Deep
More concrete creating a small bit of flat land for the Pavilion

A nice little anchorage with protection from the North and East.

See the little wood structure, we watched several kids add or subtract to make a playhouse, no man made playground needed here.

Play structure number 2 with a great view of the Olympics!

Several Fresh water ponds were constructed to restore natural eco systems for birds, insects and plant life. The stakes are protecting the newly planted plant life from the birds till they get a proper foothold. You can see where fresh water run off is directed to the pond.


You want a natural Beach, we want a place to Party. That is the trade off when creating a City Park. 

The Marin Technology Lab is fundamental to training the next generation  of environmental conscious generations. Marine Science Technology is taught at the PSSC Marine Technology Lab in Seahurst Park http://www.highlineschools.org/Page/1918. The waterfront facility includes a classroom, student lockers, wet lab, boat ramp, salmon hatchery, and 750-gallon sea-water aquariums. This unique location allows the students to conduct an annual beach survey, lower plankton nets from our 14-foot skiffs, manage the state-licensed salmon hatchery, and study marine plants and animals. Since the program is offered through the Puget Sound Skills Center, students will also learn practical skills such as: Seamanship, Navigation, Marine Safety

Helping Nature once again find it's way from the top of the uplands to the water,

It is very obvious that a lot of very committed people came together to recreate a chance for nature to survive here, and a lot of money, I saw a figure on the website that was over $11 Million. You can see the Environmental Science Center in the background http://envsciencecenter.org/

I wonder if one day they will remove that bridge back there and think of some other solution. The North Creek is chocked at that point.

The natural progression to the water will change, hopefully nature will get to decide.

It is very cool haw a considerable stream of water dissolves here under the rocky beach.


The south Stream meets the beach and the Sound.

You can get your 8 year old on here.

There are a couple of guys wade fishing for trout just beyond the tree.

Or get your Monkey On!

This container ship passes the Seattle Port by on its way to Tacoma between Burien and Vashon Island.

Great Moment for a Kayak

We took the High road

Another stream running along the road.

I zoomed in on the development just to the North of the Park and you can see the Bulkheads that protect the homes from the Sound and the once nice beaches are no more there.At high tide there is no beach at all.

The Homes that hank on the hillside make just as huge an environmental impact as those near sea level. It is not uncommon fo landslides after large rains, they are on the nightly news after every storm. 

Living in an unnatural  Paradise.

Seahurst Park - Burien, WA

We first encountered the raised environmental awareness of the people in Western Washington when we chartered "KI", a 42' Tayana out of Bellingham for a one week Cruise around the San Juan's with  our daughter and future Son-in-Law. Every Marina had recycling bins for everything and you were expected to participate. The level of environmental consciousness was way above anything that was happening at the time in Texas and only our home town of Austin was beginning a curbside recycling program. Was not even a consideration in Coastal Texas.
Puget Sound is home to three groups of resident Orca Whale families known as the J,K,&, L pods. Back in the late 60's a group of Marine Biologist began to study these beautiful creatures and realized that they might soon become endangered as salmon and other sea life they fed on was diminishing. The Orca population began to diminish and this dedicated group of men and women sought help from every corner to help  save the beloved whales from extinction in Puget Sound. To restore the whale populations to health would require restoring the waters of the Sound  extend both by reducing pollution and by restoring the ecosystems that support the entire food chain. The amazing thing is that those ecosystems extend throughout all the rivers and creeks that run off into the Sound. So from the tops of the Cascades and the Olympics all the way down thousands of feet in elevation and thousands of mile of rivers much through heavily populated areas where mitigating pollution is a difficult nut to crack.
They did a great job of creating a awareness and getting the citizens of Western Washington on board towards the eventual goal of restoring the ecosystems of Puget Sound to a healthy state. This is an ongoing process that has required a lot of State Legislation, removing dams, lifestyle changes for everyone, and instilling the importance of the environment in their children. After a short study of my own regarding the Duwamish River, that is a very heavy industrialized river that has credit for actually building the Great City of Seattle, I learned that even with all the Kings men and Millions and Millions of dollars it will be a 50 year effort to get the river back to acceptable levels and back to a healthy ecosystem.
A lot of those children have grown up and they are now in the workforce as a small army of individuals with extreme commitment to see what those few men and women in the Late 60's started here. I was Fortunate to meet some of these solders on a trip down the Duwamish with the Puget Sound Keepers Alliance. Christine, a Marine Biologist was on board that day who had called to volunteer just like I had. At the time she worked on Alaskan fishing vessels as a Marine Biologist monitoring the catch and recording related data. All of that was fascinating to me and later we were out sailing on Puget Sound and she explained that she had switched jobs and had taken a position to help restore a section of beach somewhere South of Seattle not far away. I told her every little step would eventually add up one step at a time! She gave me a few brochures about the work going on there and I just sort of filed them for perhaps a later day.
Well that day arrives when we had a beautiful sunny March day to fill, I told the Admiral that there was this beach I had been wanting to go visit, Fortunately I was able to find the brochures and we took a short 25 minute drive South to Burien, wound our way through the neighborhoods to find the road to Seahurst Park https://burienwa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/19
Christine had described the conditions of the park before the restoration where there was a long bulkhead built. The Bulkhead created unforeseen consequences of eroding the natural beach that was there to the point where the bulkhead was now acting as a seawall. We have seen plenty examples of this on out cruise around the Gulf of Mexico to the extent that huge resort properties built behind the bulkheads were about to fall into the Ocean. So I had a pretty good idea what she was talking about but I had no vision for the project she was working on. Well as you can see from the pictures above it is pretty incredible. Obviously there has been a lot of work and money expended to get this almost mile of water line restored toward a healthy ecosystem again. They have certainly given Mother Nature a restart in this little corner of the Sound and is definitely a great example for other planners to work from.
Burien is a little Suburb just South of Seattle and is a busy little city in its own right.So the huge challenge is to find a way for those who use the park to co-exist without obstructing the ecosystem restoration happening here. They are brilliant obviously by having own going education centers located in the park to continue the process of enlisting the next army to eventually restore the Whole of Puget Sounds ecosystems to a point where the Human side learns to co-exist with the Nature that sustains them in the first place, One Step at a time.

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