Who says fieldtrips to celebrate Earth Day are just for elementary school kids?
One week after the release of their 2009-2010 Annual Environmental Report, the Port of Seattle gave adults a chance to reliving their days of educational outings, hosting a tour of two port-controlled West Seattle Parks Wednesday. The Port of Seattle’s Earth Day Park’s Tour, which emphasized the Port’s environmental stewardship initiatives, drew two busloads of Seattleites to Port headquarters at Pier 69 on Alaskan Way.
The two and half hour event kicked with a presentation by senior environmental manager George Bloomberg. Bloomberg briefed attendees on some of the Port’s recent contamination clean-up projects and wildlife restoration efforts with a short slideshow. After the Port’s introduction it was off to Terminal 5’s Jack Block Park, located at 2130 Harbor Avenue Southwest. The 5.8 acre public shoreline access park boasts some stunning sights of the Seattle waterfront as well as trails for biking and walking.
From a 45 foot-high viewing platform, port environmental managers discussed the environmentally conscious infrastructure redevelopment at the terminal: in adding 400 feet linear feet of container cargo pier, the port was able to enclose the majority of pollution at the site, preventing the spread contamination to Puget Sound waters. Though Terminal 5 is still classified as a superfund site—a location the federal government flags for clean-up because of its severe soil and ground water contamination—Bloomberg said the Port has managed to isolate 70 percent of pollutants in the area. Terminal 107, a public access park at 4700 West Marginal Way Southwest, was next up on the tour.
At this park, which is also a Superfund site, Bloomberg explained that there there is still a lot of work to do. Indeed, signs welcoming park patrons warn against eating resident shellfish due to contamination in the water. Still, the port has undertaken considerable environmental efforts at Terminal 107, among them its fish and wildlife habitat restoration efforts. At Kellogg Island, the Port has worked to restore marsh and riparian vegetation for over a decade.
“As the marsh vegetation breaks down, it serves as habitat for what fish to feed on,” Bloomberg said. The guides also shared some of the port’s environmentally friendly landscaping practices. Indead of relying on chemicals, woody debris gets recycled into the woodchip mulch blanketing berms and beds at the port’s 19 public access locations. Landscape waste is reused at parks and waterfront access areas. Landsacpers also refrain from using toxic chemical fertilizers to control weeds.
“We’re organic at all of our parks,” said David Komo, a port landscaper who greeted tour participants at Terminal 107. “We don’t use chemicals—that’s just a really bad idea being so close to the water anyways.” Komo demonstrated how he uses a small torch at port parks to control growth of unwanted weeds. The Port of Seattle’s Earth Day Park’s Tour is part of the Port’s 101 series, adult public education offerings which included an Airport 101, Duwamish River 101, Cruise 101 and Cargo 101 tour last year.