[Tweeters] Yesler Swamp and Montlake Fill eBird distinction

Connie Sidles constancesidles at gmail.com
Tue Aug 24 12:38:05 PDT 2010

Dear all, Yesler Swamp is owned by the UW and managed by the UW
Botanic Gardens, just as is Union Bay Natural Area (aka Montlake
Fill). It has for many years been considered a part of UBNA and
appears in the current 10-year management plan for UBNA (as it did in
the previous 10-year management plan). I have always considered it a
part of UBNA, and it does belong to the same general ecosystem of
marsh, swamp, wetlands, and riparian habitat that ring Union Bay. In
fact, it is not separated from the rest of UBNA by the greenhouses.
Along the shore, the ecology is continuous, going from dry land to
swamp to marsh to lake. Thus, giving Yesler Swamp a separate
designation would be like giving a separate designation to the salt
water walkway of Discovery Park, as opposed to the prairies there or
the woods, in my opinion.

Yesler Swamp's history is different, though. It was "colonized" by
Henry Yesler, who had a sawmill in this area. It was never part of the
landfill. I'm not sure how or when the university acquired it. I
believe the university went on a buying binge after it moved to its
present campus in 1895 - at one time, the UW owned the Talaris (aka
Battelle) site as well.

Yesler Swamp also has a Friends organization, a group of community
activists who adopted this portion of UBNA and who want to help
implement UBNA's 10-year plan for this part of the site. (Check out
their blog site at yeslerswamptrail.wordpress.com).

Part of the trouble about naming these various places has to do with
the fact that nothing historical quite maps onto contemporary reality.
The Montlake Fill, for example, used to extend west as far as 25th,
east to about where the CUH buildings are now, and north to NE 45th.
Part of the landfill is now parking lots and playfields, managed by
the UW's athletic department and parking facilities. Part of the Fill
is taken up with buildings for the Art Department. Another part is
used by the facilities staff, who park their vehicles in various
corporation yards north of Paulson and Wahkiakum Prairies. On the
other hand, UBNA includes places that were never part of Montlake
Fill, such as Yesler Swamp, the greenhouses, the CUH buildings and

In my book "In My Nature," I struggled with these incongruities and
finally came up with a map that I think takes into account the
*birding* habitats that make the most sense. You can take a look at
this map by going to: www.constancypress.com > In My Nature > More
about the Fill. Please feel free to download this map, if you like. -

On Aug 24, 2010, at 9:42 AM, Michael Schrimpf wrote:

> Hi Tweeters,


> I recently recorded an eBird survey at Yesler Swamp, and when I went

> to enter it, I discovered that there was no "hotspot" link to the

> location - so I placed one on the map, and suggested it as a hotspot.

> Charlie Wright sent me an email today, asking if that area is usually

> considered part of the Union Bay Natural Area/Montlake Fill, or if it

> represents a unique location. His exact question is below:


> "Is Yesler Swamp technically part of the Union Bay Natural

> Area/Montlake Fill, or would you consider it a distinct hotspot? If

> the former, the hotspot conventions would probably want me to name the

> hotspot "Union Bay Natural Area -- Yesler Swamp." However, if it's

> owned separately or otherwise distinct enough, then perhaps simply

> Yesler Swamp is better."


> It caused me to pause and think, so I decided I should pose the

> question to the community first:


> For those of you who use eBird, and bird those locations, have been

> recording everything at the Montlake Fill site, or do you distinguish

> them?


> I could see an argument for either choice:


> The birds certainly are able to readily move from one to the other,

> and both are under the eye of the Center for Urban Horticulture. That

> being said, they are separated by the center and the parking lots, and

> Yesler Swamp has certain habitat characteristics that make it distinct

> from the Fill. I don't actually know much about how each is

> managed/owned.


> There are plenty of other eBird sites that are within one "property",

> if they are distinct enough to have different kinds of birds - for

> example Foster Island is considered distinct from the UW Arboretum,

> and there are numerous "hotspots" within Mount Rainier Nat. Park, to

> cover the different areas where people commonly bird.


> I would say that if the local eBird user community usually records

> birds separately for each location, it makes sense to keep them

> separate, but if not, we should combine them.


> What do folks think?


> Thanks,


> Michael Schrimpf

> Seattle


> --

> Michael Schrimpf

> Graduate Student

> School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

> University of Washington

> Box 355020

> Seattle, WA 98195-5020

> Tel: 206-221-6904

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