52 WoLP #48: thoughts on nature in our parks by Denise Dahn

Denise Dahn artist, writer, and voice for urban nature has written an excellent and well-trafficked opinion piece in the Seattle TimesThe urban wild needs protection in Seattle parks. In it, she wisely suggests it’s time for the city to step and take a stand:

Seattle City Council should create an urban wild ordinance to permanently fund and protect natural areas in Seattle parks. The areas should be managed specifically for ecological processes — wildlife habitat, soils, water — but also to preserve an essential experience for people: the magic of the urban wild.

Anyone who has taken a walk through our forested parks knows why Dahn would suggest this: encroaching noise, off leash dogs, mountain bikes tearing up the trails. But what you may not know is this:

…most of us know that meaningful contact with nature tends to be slow, quiet and reflective. It’s easier on the nature, too. A Parks Legacy Plan survey found most people, 78 percent, use parks for simple walking….

Those of is who love our parks as a refuge know this is true, and that a simple 15 minute walk in nature can restore and revive a soul like nothing else. The vast majority of park lovers out there who do not know what they have, and will not know until they lose it, also need to step up and become aware of what’s at risk. Losing urban nature such as we have in Lincoln, Schmitz and many other seattle parks, would be a major impact on the character and legacy of Seattle itself.

One of the most significant and costly threats to park nature is recreational development. Dahn sites an interesting comparison:

We also pay heavily for recreational interests. Developed parkland is much more expensive to maintain than natural areas. Unlike Portland, where 70 percent of total parkland is left natural, Seattle is just the opposite: Eighty-six percent of our parkland is developed or landscaped. Only 14 percent is natural.

It’s a great essay, do check it out here

52 Weeks of Lincoln Park is a year-long homage to my lovely neighbor and friend LP. Xoxo

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