The Work Continues

This morning I woke up to the usual noises of destruction (I mean construction) behind my house in what was once called the Tiffany Park Woods and went to take a look.

This is what I saw.

Which is all fine and good but I certainly hope the brakes are in good working order.

~ Susanne

The Gone Tiffany Park Woods

I must say that was fast. Not only have the trees and shrubs come down in what was formerly known as the Tiffany Park Woods, but the area has been pulverized into submission (and yes, dirt) with not a single green thing left, except for the few promised patches. Surprising?  Yes.

I knew the trees would go but I guess I held some notion that shrubs and understory would remain.  I mean, why take it all? Wouldn’t new homeowners want that vegetation around their houses? (Obviously I know nothing about construction.)  Anyway, it’s all gone and the land is being leveled for the infrastructure and houses to come. On the bright side, I won’t need an alarm for awhile since the heavy equipment rolls in around 7 and the noise and vibration shake me out of bed.

I’m also happy to report that Benji and Tiger are coping surprisingly well with all the commotion. They still want out all hours of the day and seem content with the new confines of their territory. (No more sneaking into the woods for them.)

I’m sorry the woods are gone, but I’m thankful my backyard still has enough trees on both sides of the fence for shade and privacy. And more sunshine in some spots where the tree cover was heavier.

So it’s time to move on and say goodbye to the Tiffany Park Woods. Still, if I had it to do over again, I would fight a little harder, maybe hug a few trees, to try to get the woods preserved and added to the city’s park system; an urban park where woodpeckers and owls could still live, with access and trails for all to enjoy.

Maybe next time.

~ Susanne

A Halt to the Work at the Tiffany Park Woods

Too little too late.  The beautiful Tiffany Park Woods are nearly gone, the birds and wildlife already evicted, the native flora disappeared. Still, I was heartened to know someone is paying attention to the promises made by the developer when they obtained the permit to raze these woods and replace them with 97 houses.   According to a story in today’s Renton Reporter, “a stop work order was issued after inspectors found two protected trees were removed from the site.”  I wondered why all had gone quiet.

“In order to lift the stop order, the developers will have to meet conditions set upon by the city, including paying a fine and replacing the two removed trees with 12 other trees. The city will decide on the types and locations of the trees at a later date. In addition, if the developers remove other protected trees once the stop work order is lifted, the city will revoke their permit and cease all construction.”  ~  Renton Reporter 6/28/17

There is some justice after all.

I visited the Woods earlier this spring before the work began to document their beauty.

For the last few weeks I have also documented their destruction, which has been far more difficult to observe than I had imagined.

I watched a panicked red-headed woodpecker fly to a large Douglas Fir in my yard (to take up residence I hope) after the large trees around him came down.  And I have never seen a sadder looking deer than this one recently taking refuge in a tiny patch of remaining woods as trees were felled nearby.  I hope he made it safely to a new home.

For several years, friends of the Tiffany Park Woods fought against this project and lost.  What they won were concessions from the builder including a tree retention plan as conditions for the permit. The work stoppage may only be temporary, but if it results in the saving of a few more trees, then it is worth it.  I’m glad the developer is being held accountable for the terms that were agreed upon.

~ Susanne

The Woodpecker

Today they arrived behind our house and I stood watching as the claw gripped the tree where it was thick and full of life and the saw ate through its girth and the claw hoisted it upward into the air and downward where it smashed to the ground where others lay and while I was watching I saw the bird land on the tree nearby and maybe I only imagined the panic of the small and fragile red-headed woodpecker as he climbed upward hoping this one would not come down, but I don’t think so.

~ Susanne

Urban Logging

After years of wrangling and delays, the logging of the Tiffany Park Woods is underway. It was only last week that I took this picture after being awakened by the chain saws.

This is the same location today.

The woods are no match for the heavy equipment assembled against them. I am over it. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m pleased to see many trees around the perimeter still standing. I wonder if the select few marvel that they were chosen while those on the ash heap wonder what they did wrong.

I assume all the displaced animals have been welcomed to new homes. Refugees of sorts. It will be interesting to watch as houses go up.

Progress I guess.

~ Susanne

Awakened by Chain Saws

It’s the beginning of the end for the Tiffany Park Woods. The logging has begun.

Honestly I didn’t venture into the woods often though others did: neighbors, dog walkers, and boys playing army.  I suspect most of these grew up in the neighborhood and knew the woods like an old friend.  Still, I loved knowing they were there and enjoyed the peaceful backdrop they provided to my home and others. And I appreciated the visiting birds and deer who lived there.

For the past few years many tried to have the woods preserved but to no avail.  The twenty-two acres were sold and a large housing development would take their place.  So we have been waiting.

Finally this morning we woke to the hum of the chain saws telling us the work had begun.  The distant whine of the saws will grow louder each day until most of the woods are gone.

We’ve been promised that the trees in back of us will be retained as part of a wide buffer against the houses that will be built.  We’re thankful for whatever trees remain.

But we will miss the full loveliness of the woods we once enjoyed.

~ Susanne

Tiffany Park Woods Revisited

Behind my house in Renton there are 22 acres of woods.   You can see them through the fence in my backyard where they provide a wonderful backdrop of green making my own gardening efforts easier.

I have enjoyed their quiet beauty and the birds and wildlife who live in them. I’ve welcomed the deer who occasionally peer through the fence and let them prune my raspberry bushes when I forgot to close the gate.

Of all the friendly birds that have stopped by my yard (and there are many), my favorite was the red crested pileated woodpecker. I’ll never forget watching that giant bird with the bright red plume as he stopped for a drink and made my bird bath look small.  I have never seen another one in the wild.

It has already been a couple of years since we learned the woods had been sold.  At the time, neighbors voiced their complaints to the city and various hearings were held. Environmental studies were performed and inventories of wetlands, trees, birds and mammals were taken. But things being as they are it was only a matter of time until the clearing of the land and the building of the houses would begin.

I wonder how the trees feel about it?  Do they know the white tag or the blue tag or the pink tag pinned to their bark determines their fate?  Have the animals perhaps sensed what is coming and already relocated to more permanent homes?

Recently some friendly men came by and we asked them when work would begin.

“Soon,” they replied.

“But we have heard that for years,” we answered and laughed together.

But this time it really is soon. Their mission is to prepare the infrastructure to support the new homes.  Tree felling will begin within weeks and utilities should follow after. The peace and quiet will be gone for too long a time I fear. I wish it was already over and done.

I thought I would take a final walk through the woods before the logging begins and photograph what will be lost.  I follow the trail where young boys run and play and older boys walk their dogs.

I come across this comfy stool fit for a fairy.

and I find ferns with new spring fronds unfurling ..

The bleeding hearts are in bloom…

and the salmonberries are blossoming.

And of course there are the trees.

I find this tangle that will likely stick together while coming down.

They are ordinary perhaps, these Tiffany Park Woods, nothing special except to those who live near them.  Or in them.

I remember the first time I heard the deep hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the dead of night.  I wondered at the size of an owl that had such a booming voice resonating in the woods.  I got up hoping to catch a glimpse of him but of course it was too dark. Silly I know.  There are other owls too but I don’t know what kind. I’ve tried to remember the rhythms of their calls so I could look it up the next day.  But by morning I have usually forgotten.  I will miss the owls.

I grew up next to woods in West Seattle and have fond memories of the many hours spent in them; running on the trails, making beds of the ferns, and playing the games of childhood.  Maybe children don’t play in woods anymore.  But I still believe there is value in having some patches of wilderness in urban spaces.

The woods in Tiffany Park will soon be gone but my woods in West Seattle still remain.  For that I am thankful.

~ Susanne