News Source: 
UW Today
May 27, 2014

By summer it will be easier to walk through one of Seattle’s only swamps with its beaver lodge, a lagoon with turtles the size of dinner plates and a hundred different kinds of song birds.

Work has started on the first phase of a 1,200-foot boardwalk trail in Yesler Swamp, a six-acre area on the shore of Union Bay just east of the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture.

Swamps are wetlands with trees and in the Seattle area the tree species would have included giants like Sitka spruce and western red cedar. Seattle’s original swamps have all pretty been much logged, drained or filled, according to Kern Ewing, a UW professor of environmental and forest sciences.

The largest swamps in the city today are Yesler Swamp and those found on Foster and Marsh islands, all ringing Union Bay near UW. In spite of being the site of an 1880s-era saw mill and then cultivated during World War II for Victory Gardens, Yesler Swamp managed to reemerge as a natural area, but one choked with invasive plants.

The boardwalk trail, a project of the neighborhood group Friends of Yesler Swamp, is being installed because studies have shown that people are less likely to create their own multiple pathways – which disturbs wildlife and degrades the ecosystem – if there are clear, designated paths, Ewing said. The boardwalk trail will also make it easier to do additional restoration.