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The Kilbourne Ravine Project is expected to take six years, starting this June, to remove invasive species from a steep, and tree filled area in the Fauntleroy neighborhood of West Seattle.

Kilbourne Ravine Project will take six years to clean up invasive species; Work to begin this summer

West Seattle environmental activist Judy Pickens understands that sometimes it's hard to do good.

She's been working in the Fauntleroy neighborhood of West Seattle for years as a steward of Fauntleroy Creek. But she's had a larger project in mind for some time now, the removal of invasive species from Kilbourne Ravine, a 59,000 square foot area of steep slopes, trees and a lot of vegetation. The project took shape last year as she got grants to help fund the work but she's hit roadblocks with the Department of Planning and Development due to the wording of the current Environmentally Critical Area ordinance. Now she hopes to have "boots on the ground" in June. The work, being done in association with Seattle Parks, will be done by Earth Corps trainees and the project is expected to take six years to complete.

"With nearly $50,000 in grant funding from the King Conservation District, we were poised to begin weeding and revegetating habitat along the middle reach of Fauntleroy Creek when unforeseen city permitting requirements put the brakes on. Even though the project is a straightforward one, the steeply sloped ravine is classified by the city as an environmentally critical area (ECA). Because the current ECA ordinance makes no distinction between habitat restoration and construction, we were compelled to postpone on- the-ground for at least a year while we engaged consultants, created detailed plans, and completed all required forms," Pickens said.

Pickens explained that Bob Keller with Natural Systems Design worked in tandem with Rob Anderson with EarthCorps to share responsibility for creating the master restoration plan and a geotech assessment of the ravine. "With key pointers from Bob, Rob accomplished much of the work, saving us money and gaining valuable experience in the process."

As project coordinator for the watershed council, Pickens filed preliminary documents with the city's Department of Planning and Development, applied for a permit from the Seattle Department of Transportation to work in undeveloped right of way in the base of the ravine, drafted the SEPA checklist, and moved everything toward submittal in mid January 2014. That application went public on Jan. 23.

A related city requirement necessitated a second request that affected owners sign a permission form authorizing work on their property in the ravine. Six of the eight owners readily complied and staff at the King Conservation District took on the task of gaining the two remaining signatures.

As a city department, Seattle Parks was not subject to the same ECA requirements. Over the course of the year, its contractors made great progress in initial weeding of the Kilbourne Park portion of the ravine, plus associated undeveloped right of way.

"While our permit process moved along, we received a $5,000 water-quality grant from the Rose Foundation (money from a settlement for environmental damage). We are using it to help fund the estimated $10,000 for permitting not factored into our original project budget."

See the linked Frequently Asked Questions page on the project (soon to see an update) for more information.

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