Discovery Park Habitat Project

client: seattle department of parks and recreation

size: 500 acres total, 35 acres restoration work

location: seattle, washington

duration: 1994–1995

construction cost: $1,100,000+ $250,000 king county metro in-kind donation of biosolids

Today’s visitors to Seattle’s “urban wilderness” park experience sweeping meadows, stunning views, towering lowland forests, eroding bluffs and sandy beaches. This vital ecosystem is the result of an innovative effort lead by Swift Company to sustainably transform this former military base into a socially and ecologically thriving landscape.

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Swift led the successful habitat enhancement of Discovery Park, Seattle’s beloved urban wilderness. The effort built on the ecological structure of this 500-acre park and shifted the trajectory of declining grasslands, forests, and wetlands. 35 acres benefited from strategic removal of invasive species, development of soil nutrient banks, rainwater harvesting, wetland creation, vegetative structural diversity, and insertions of visitor amenities. A stone wall defines a prominent viewpoint; log couches overlook Puget Sound; and a wetland edge aids school groups collecting water samples. Each is an insertion with an enduring, minimal design allowing nature to take center stage.

The project has received national recognition for its innovative approach to land reclamation and control of Scot’s Broom through biosolids application. Surface rainwater is dispersed into a network of bioswales, a created vernal pond, forested wetlands, and places for education. These interventions, early experiments that are now best practice, increase ecological function and create places of magic.

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