Meadowbrook Update: October 2014

In October 2014 the flame ash street trees along 35th Ave NE are showing their autumn colors.  Since June 2014 street signs have been posted to warn drivers along the arterial that 35th Ave NE is closed to through-traffic at NE 107th Street where construction is underway at The Confluence. The Confluence is the place at NE 107th Street where the North and South Branches of Thornton Creek converge.  At that lowest point in the roadway, stormwaters have often flooded surrounding streets and houses.  This year of 2014 is the third phase of construction at The Confluence to add capacity for water and improve the environment for fish.

Flame ash trees line 35th Ave NE through the Wedgwood and Meadowbrook neighborhoods.  Road closure signs at NE 95th and 110th Streets warn drivers that there is no through traffic during construction at The Confluence.

Flame ash trees line 35th Ave NE through the Wedgwood and Meadowbrook neighborhoods. A road closure sign on 35th Ave NE at NE 95th Street warns drivers that there is no through traffic during construction at The Confluence.

The Confluence work in 2014 has been to reconfigure a section of the South Branch of Thornton Creek to widen it, create meanders to slow the flow of water and improve habitat for fish.  The in-water creek work had to be finished by the end of September to comply with Washington State regulations on fish habitat.  In the photo below, on the west side of 35th Avenue NE looking toward Nathan Hale High School we see the improved creekbed.  The banks of the creek which were formerly choked with vegetation are being replanted with new but smaller trees and shrubs.

From 35th Ave NE looking westward toward Nathan Hale High School, we see the improved channel for the South Branch of Thornton Creek.  The creek channel has been widened and meanders created to slow the flow of water and improve habitat for fish.

From 35th Ave NE looking westward toward Nathan Hale High School, we see the improved channel for the South Branch of Thornton Creek. The creek channel has been widened and meanders created to slow the flow of water and improve habitat for fish.

On the east side of 35th Ave NE a floodplain is still under construction.  In addition to the creek channel which flows into Meadowbrook Pond, overflow areas are being created so that stormwaters will not flood surrounding streets and houses.  An artwork piece called Memory Tree stands in the floodplain to represent trees on the site which had to be removed, and symbolize the close connection to nature in Meadowbrook.

On the east side of 35th Ave NE a floodplain is being created.  The Memory Tree art installation is at left.  In the foreground is the roadway which is being rebuilt after installation of culverts under 35th Ave NE.

On the east side of 35th Ave NE a floodplain is being created. The Memory Tree art installation is at left. In the foreground is the roadway which is being rebuilt after installation of culverts under 35th Ave NE.

When completed, 35th Ave NE at NE 107th will have a bridgelike appearance.  It will be slightly elevated which will alert drivers to slow down.  Pedestrians will be able to see out over the floodplain with the creek flowing through it.  Farther east of 35th Ave NE is the Meadowbrook Pond, a detention area where sediments filter out of the water.  The water going downstream can be held back and controlled so that, on its way to its outlet at Matthews Beach into Lake Washington, Thornton Creek will not overflow.

As of August 2014 there was a support structure at the edge of 35th Ave NE.  Looking east, we see the future floodplain and the new creekbed.

As of August 2014 there was a support structure at the edge of 35th Ave NE. Looking east, we see the future floodplain and the new creekbed.

The photo at left shows the progress of work as of August 2014, which may be compared to the above photo of October.

Since June 2014 the road has been closed at NE 107th Street for the Confluence Project.  The work is on-schedule, so it is possible that 35th Ave NE will open before the end of the month of November.

Even after construction work is finished, there will be a lot to do — new trees and shrubbery will be planted along the banks of the creek and in the floodplain area.

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Autumn’s Untidy Beauty

Author Christy Peterson has provided us with a good excuse NOT to rake up all the leaves in the yard!  Skip the tidying, Christy advises.  Left where they fall, leaves and dying vegetation provide habitat for birds.  In rethinking fall clean-up, Christy writes,

Autumn seed heads provide food for birds.  Photo courtesy of Tweets & Tree Frogs blog, October 2014.

Autumn seed heads provide food for birds. Photo courtesy of Tweets & Tree Frogs blog, October 2014.

My little corner of the earth is slipping towards its winter nap. Leaves are falling, flowers fading, and everything is looking just a bit unkempt. (More so than normal anyway – my garden has never quite achieved the opposite of unkempt!) Despite the ragged edges, I won’t be rushing out with clippers and rakes. That’s because the fallen leaves and ragged stems that look untidy to us are gold for backyard wildlife.

Read more at Christy Peterson’s Tweets & Tree Frogs blog.

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Pumpkin Season in Wedgwood

The ever-ready Scouts of Troop 151 promote pumpkin sales in Wedgwood.

The ever-ready Scouts of Troop 151 promote pumpkin sales in Wedgwood.

This year’s fun fall festival of pumpkins is brought to you by Scout Troop 151.  They are getting into the spirit with costumed sales helpers and a great variety of gourds for your October decorating needs.

The annual pumpkin extravaganza is held in the heart of the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle at the Hunter Tree Farm, 7744 35th Ave NE next to the Wedgwood Post Office.

Shop for pumpkins on Friday evening from 4 to 8 PM, and all day on Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 6.  Sunday, October 26 will be the last day of pumpkin sales.

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Meadowbrook Update: September 2014

The rain and cooler temperatures of the week of September 21 to 27, 2014, were a signal to fish, that it is almost time for them to swim upstream!  The summer dry-season is over, and in-water work at The Confluence on Thornton Creek, must finish by the end of September.

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Bird Migration Routes

Rufous Hummingbird by Lois Manowitz via Birdshare

Rufous Hummingbird by Lois Manowitz via Birdshare

An article from the All About Birds Blog of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains how birds migrate seasonally, following the “green wave” of plant resources.  The bird migration patterns show the importance of conservation efforts such as building the tree canopy.

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The New Boardwalk at Yesler Swamp

Yesler Swamp TrailThe Yesler Swamp is a wetland on part of what was the property of Henry Yesler, a Seattle pioneer who moved his sawmill business from downtown to this site on Union Bay in 1888.  The Town of Yesler later became part of Laurelhurst.

On Sunday, September 21, 2014 from 2 to 4 PM there was a celebration and ribbon-cutting for the first section of a new boardwalk completed on the Yesler Swamp Trail.  The celebration was held at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, where the Trail is easily accessed from the east corner of the parking lot.

Yesler Swamp overlook on the boardwalkThe Washington Conservation Corps recently completed this first phase of the Yesler Swamp boardwalk.  Made of cedar planks, the boardwalk extends out toward the lagoon and includes two overlooks so visitors can pause to enjoy the view.  Yesler Swamp is located on the north shore of Union Bay and is home to over 100 species of birds, plus other wildlife such as beaver and otter.

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Twentieth Anniversary Celebration: Thornton Creek Alliance

Thornton Creek Alliance (TCA) is an all-volunteer organization whose goal is to benefit the watershed by encouraging individuals, groups, schools, businesses, and government to work together in addressing the environmental restoration of the creek system.  It has been twenty years since a few concerned activists began organizing to improve water quality, flood prevention, and habitat throughout the northeast Seattle watershed which includes the North and South Branches of Thornton Creek.

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