Letter of Intent
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
Letter of Intent: 


Designed by students and built by students for campus wide appreciation, the Pathways Through Restoration development plan will cultivate a community of successful leaders in environmental stewardship. The Society for Ecological Restoration UW Student Chapter (SER-UW) has been working for the past five years to locate areas of the University of Washington’s campus that have become degraded in different ways and to restore them into functioning ecosystems. As part of this, we have put a great deal of effort into restoring a north campus site near McCarty Hall to a native forest ecosystem. Our active restoration of the site is approaching an end as we near completion of invasive species removal and reestablishment of a native understory. However, it is important to remember that even as the McCarty Hall site becomes self-sustaining, the mission of restoration is ongoing. With the Pathways Through Restoration project we hope to communicate the importance of environmental restoration and consistently inspire advocates for a healthier world. As the plan develops, we will lead collaboration and open-discussion among environmentally-focused groups on campus and embolden the community towards establishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.

The Project:

Our development plan entails completing restoration on the McCarty Hall site, an achievable goal over the next two quarters. This will involve a number of native plant salvages and student work parties to finish removing invasives and plant the salvaged native plants. As this work comes to a close, we will turn the site into a community space as a tool for environmental education, a setting for relaxation, and a place to contemplate human involvement in nature. This will be accomplished with a series of pathways, benches, interpretive signage and an art installation. To further promote SER-UW and our mission of restoration, we will also host several social and educational events over the coming year. We are planning a guest lecture from a professional with ties to restoration as well as several general meetings and discussions about restoration projects.

Environmental Impact:

Restoration of the McCarty Hall site has drastically improved the landscape and ecosystem functions of the area. Prior to our group’s work the site was overgrown with non-native and invasive plants including Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, and Holly Trees. By removing these invasives, we have encouraged greater biological diversity on the site. Furthermore, the native plant species that we have introduced have flourished and serve to support native wildlife. However the main goal is to go beyond turning the site into a native garden and create an interactive natural area through which we can raise awareness of the value of ecology, the effects of human impact, and restoration efficacy.

Student Leadership and Involvement:

There are few opportunities like ours that empower students to take part in molding their campus. Periodic work parties bring together more than thirty new members of the UW community each quarter. We have partnered with introductory environmental classes to offer service learning credit thus incentivizing active student participation in restoration efforts. By encouraging students to help with the restoration, we foster a sense of ownership in the project. Once a student works on the site, they’re more likely to care for the land, introduce it to other students, and recognize other human impacted ecosystems. We create a space that continually welcomes new contributors and restores a sense of community.

Education and Outreach:

The site itself has already helped to build a strong community around restoration by bringing together other environmental organizations as well as volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. With the Pathways Through Restoration development plan, we hope that it will also become a community gathering space around which environmental restoration can be discussed and witnessed firsthand. This site is not solely designed to raise awareness but also to encourage participation and inspire change. Interpretive signage will provide information on the benefits of our work and the native species that have become established on the site. Through meetings and discussions held on and off the McCarty Hall site, we will further inspire environmental consciousness.

Feasibility, Accountability and Sustainability:

SER-UW includes a diverse group of students committed to this project and its success. From undergraduates in the College of Engineering to PhD students in the School of Environmental & Forest Sciences, we all feel passionately about the continued impact of our site. We gratefully acknowledge that our success has been dependant upon a number of partnerships between other groups and organizations. With help from UW Grounds Management, UW Botanic Gardens, Union Bay Natural Area, and King County Native Plant Salvage, we have cleaned up much of the McCarty site thus far. It is well on its way to being a self-sustaining natural ecosystem. With these partnerships already in place, we will be able to finish the restoration work and move forward. Our partnership with students in the Landscape Architecture department will provide us guidance on the development of the site.

Anticipated budget:

In our preliminary budget, we estimate needing $7,000 *(Budget has been reevaluated since LOI submission) to cover the costs of our proposed expansions. We are working at a quicker pace than the group ever has in the past and our budget from SEFS no longer covers our needs. This money will help us in finishing the restoration of the McCarty Hall site, increasing the infrastructure there for community engagement (i.e. benches, signs, art installation), and hosting several social and educational events to promote environmental stewardship and collaboration.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Cameron McCallum
Full Proposal
This will display after the CSF committee has reviewed and approved your LOI, and after you have received the link to edit your application.
Executive Summary: 

The intent of this proposal is to support the University of Washington’s student chapter of The Society for Ecological Restoration (SER-UW) to better achieve our mission of promoting restoration ecology as a means of sustaining the diversity of life on Earth and reestablishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. We are requesting funds to develop interpretive displays, more useable spaces at our on-campus restoration site, and resources to keep pace with our members interest in conducting both restoration projects and community outreach events (e.g. collaborative meetings, seminars, and travel to conferences).

Our restoration site, The Whitman Nature Walk, is located on north campus between Whitman Court NE and the Denny Field IMA tennis courts along the Whitman Walk pedestrian path (Fig 1). The northern section of Whitman Walk  is a small forest tract that has been restored by SER-UW over the past five years and is the nexus of our organizations efforts. This site embodies the mission of SER-UW and the proposed interpretive displays would be located here. SER-UW also participates in restoration activities at other locations across campus, and throughout King and Pierce Counties. We also maintain a native plant nursery at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) and hold outreach events at the UW School for Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). The total amount requested for these projects is $14,712  and would endow these increasingly popular activities.

The environmental problem this project will address is complacency and detachment from natural communities in urban settings. SER-UW has worked diligently since our founding in 2008 to restore a Puget Sound lowland forest community to north campus adjacent to McCarty and Haggett Halls. Funding to develop interpretive displays would be an effective educational tool that would leverage existing work to demonstrate the benefits of restoration ecology. Furthermore, our work along Whitman Walk is adjacent to the much larger, but inaccessible Kincaid Ravine Restoration Project, a CSF funded project to restore a 2.2 acre tract of forest.  The Whitman Nature Walk will act as the interface between the UW campus and Kincaid Ravine upon completion, providing an accessible point to learn about the importance of ecological restoration and a welcoming outdoor community space. The additional funding requested will help SER-UW increase outreach aimed at spreading awareness, recruiting students, and collaborating with other student groups and off-campus organizations.

To monitor the impacts of the proposed work we will maintain records of our membership, total number of volunteer hours, relationships with partnering organizations, and number of outreach events and attendance. To measure effect we will compare these numbers with pre-grant numbers from the 2013-2014 academic year. Because this proposal also funds tools and equipment for restoration we will also set up an annual monitoring program at Whitman Nature Walk to measure changes in plant cover by species.

SER-UW information can be found online at our Facebook page

and website



SER-UW partners with numerous organizations, both on and off campus, to accomplish our restoration goals (Table 1).


Total amount requested from the CSF: 
$14 712
This funding request is a: 
ItemCost/ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Restoration Activities
Shovels$20 20$400.00
Pitch fork$30 3$90.00
Metal rake$20 4$80.00
Wheel barrow$70 3$210.00
Potting soil$4 30$120.00
Truck rental$50 4$200.00
Lanscaping cloth$50 4$200.00
Food & Refreshments$80.00 6$480.00
McCarty Interpretive display
Art materials$1,000 1$1,000.00
2' x 3' Interpretive sign (site history)$1,000 1$1,000.00
1' x 1' Interpretive sign (species)$250 8$2,000.00
Crushed stone$300 1$300.00
Railraod ties$20 55$1,100.00
Park benches$400 5$2,000.00
EarthCorps (Project Management)$69.00 6$414.00
EarthCorps (Crew day)$1,179.00 2$2,358.00
Seminars/Outreach Activities
Food & beverages$1606$960.00
Speaker Fee$3006$1,800.00
Non-CSF Sources: 
Source/DescriptionAmount RequestedDate RequestedDate Received
Ackerley Learning To Lead Together Scholarship$1,500 12/1/20131/6/2013
Sustainability Impact: 
Living Systems and Biodiversity
Sustainability Challenge: 

With the increased global connectivity that has accompanied our modern age, natural ecosystems are losing their ecological authenticity. In the Greater Puget Sound region, several non-native invasive plant species such as Himalayan blackberry and English ivy invade and dominate swaths of land which historically supported a diverse suite of native flora and fauna. In order to combat the negative impacts of invasive species SER-UW has a adopted a two-pronged approach. We hope to practice principles of environmental restoration to return land overrun with invasive species to a natural and healthy state thus encouraging greater biodiversity and providing habitat for native wildlife. We also aim to cultivate community involvement and environmental stewardship through utilizing these projects as opportunities to discuss human-impacted ecosystems and the ways in which we foster sustainable lifestyles.

The Whitman Nature Walk project has long been our outlet for both of these goals. It serves as a place to actively practice principles of restoration ecology and as a classroom for ecological awareness. As our group’s work has progressed, the site has transitioned from an ecologically degraded area on campus to a rare and precious example of a healthy native forest which can serve not only as a beautiful natural space but also an invaluable teaching tool.

Furthermore, we hope to expand our impact through work away from our restoration site through the expansion of our social and educational outreach. A large part of ensuring environmental health is the dissemination of information about the problems that we all face and the ways to mitigate them. We seek funding to expand this communication. Holding events open to the wider university community will have huge benefits and inspire lasting environmental change.

Explain how the impacts will be measured: 

To measure the impact of our outreach efforts on the UW community we will track SER-UW membership and event attendance statistics and the number of each event type with the goal of increasing all three. SER-UW membership will be tracked under the assumption that greater outreach will spur more students to get involved with restoration ecology and thus these efforts should be detectable. Since there is no requirement of involvement once a student becomes a member our metric for membership will be based on new members. We will compare enrollment rates for the funding period (2014-2015 academic year) with the previous year. Event attendance statistics will also provide another metric of how well our outreach efforts are generating interest in this field. Because the number of events our organization hold fluctuates we will measure total number of attendees per quarter rather than average attendance rates. For example, if we hold more events average attendance may drop but the total number of students involved may increase). We will track the number and type of events to ensure that outreach funds are being used to increase our outreach capacity. We expect the number of restoration events to stay stable but a doubling in outreach events designed to disseminate information (e.g. collaborative meetings, seminars, conference attendance, etc).

To measure our impact on ecological restoration of The Whitman Nature Walk we will set up an ecological monitoring project to track the status of our efforts. Since restoration efforts have been underway for some time monitoring efforts will not provide baseline information however they will enable us to track the progress of native plants and maintenance efforts to keep invasive species from returning to the site. The site is small (~ 0.5 acre), thus we will conduct a complete inventory of trees and shrubs greater than 0.3 meters tall. Common multi-stemmed shrubs such as Indian-plum and California hazelnut will be recorded as individual clusters. For each tree we will record species, height, and diameter at breast height (DBH). For seedlings and saplings less than 4.5 feet tall we will measure basal diameter. For tall shrubs we will record species and height and number of stems for multi-stemmed species. While many of these individuals were present before restoration efforts began this information will allow us to characterize the structure of the overstory and understory. Most tree data can be supplemented with information from the UW’s extensive tree inventory. This data will be collected every five years. Monitoring for the groundcover layer where most of our restoration work has been concentrated will use 10-20 10-meter line transects systematically located across the site to measure cover of each groundcover species (i.e. those not measured as trees or large shrubs). These plots will be measured annually to track cover of native and non-native species. Success will be measured as a <1% cover of nonnative groundcover and upward trending cover, abundance, and evenness of native species in the groundcover layer.

Education & Outreach: 

This proposal will utilize several methods to publicize our work to the UW community. SER-UW activities will be advertised widely and made available to all students, signage and web postings will describe our endeavors .

The primary advertisment method for our north campus student woods will be the site itself. It is located in a high traffic area in north campus adjacent to several large dormitories. In its current state, the site is undifferentiated from the surrounding campus. Our organization is currently discussing the installation of UW signage identifying the site. These combined with the proposed interpretive displays would create a high visibility site designed to encourage students to spend time at the site and learn more about our activities and the native vegetation. We will also use other methods to actively promote the restoration of the Whitman Walk landscape including posts on our Facebook page and website, continued use as an outdoor classroom as part of a collaboration with the Introduction to Environmental Science (ESRM 100) course, emails to our 150 members and relevant listserves, and posters.

Restoration Ecology Outreach Events will use similar avenues of active advertising listed for The Whitman Nature Walk. Our organization seeks to be as inclusive as possible and always disseminates event information widely. 

Our educational goals are to inform interested students about the importance of healthy functioning ecosystems to society and the role restoration ecology has in improving measures of ecosystem health including biodiversity and ecological function. In Washington State, many of our cherished ecosystems are degraded. Whether it is declining forest health in the dry coniferous forests of the eastern Cascades, loss of habitat for Puget Sound oak savannas, or fragmentation and establishment of invasive species in the lowland forests of our own backyard, in all cases management actions that fall under the discipline of restoration ecology are necessary to reverse degradation. Developing interpretive signs along The Whitman Nature Walk will showcase the importance of restoration on campus for a large number of students while the proposed restoration outreach events will provide more in depth exposure to this field.

Secondary educational goals of The Whitman Nature Walk interpretive display is to act as a public face for other restoration projects on campus and showcase the value of established natural communities for university planners. UW has several existing or planned restoration projects in addition to our efforts. These include sites between NE Walla Walla Lane and the Ship Canal, adjacent to the Conibear Shellhouse, the Union Bay Natural Area, and a planned project for Kincaid Ravine. These sites are all less accessible to students and our site has the potential to bring attention to these sites and educate students about the extent of restoration work on campus. Whitman Walk is also within the footprint of the North Campus Master Housing Plan Update. This document includes the demolition and remodel of the McCarty and Haggett residence halls. The plan notes the forested nature of the vegetation is part of the character of this section of campus but also notes the vegetation appears “unkept” and “abandoned”. The  natural plant communities of The Whitman Nature Walk and Kincaid Ravine restoration projects will be incorporated into the north campus redesigned as an inviting community space with an educational benefit. This process could provide an educational opportunity in and of itself for university staff by incorporating natural plant communities into the design of large residence halls.

Student Involvement: 

Student involvement is essential to our work and this project involves students in several different ways. Requested funds for equipment and supplies will enable us recruit larger numbers of students for restoration activities and to provide hands on experience, the interpretive displays will provide opportunities for students to participate in the design and installation, and the outreach events will provide the chance to interact with restoration professional for seminars while opening doors to work with other student groups through collaborative meetings.

Restoration activities such as native plant salvages and work parties bring together dozens of students from the UW community each quarter for direct hands-on interaction on and off campus. Whether they are students from our partnership with the Introduction to Environmental Science (ESRM 100) course or dedicated SER-UW members these events foster a sense of ownership in the project and help SER achieve its mission. There are few opportunities like ours that empower students to take part so directly in molding their campus. Requested funding will allow us to recruit more volunteers by providing needed equipment and supplies.  The same equipment and supplies will also help us act as a resource for other student groups interested in restoration. For example, we are partnering with the Kincaid Ravine restoration project and having tools on hand would greatly help in planning for the first planned work party on February 18th.

The interpretive displays will create opportunities for student involvement in restoration across many disciplines. Already, we have an intern majoring in landscape architecture developing a site plan to outline how and where interpretive displays will be located. We hope to partner with a University of Washington furniture making class to create benches from cherry sourced from the site along Whitman Walk, and work with the art department to develop works that represent the transitions the site has undergone during the restoration process.

The restoration seminars will provide students with the opportunity to reach out and interact with professionals in the field of restoration ecology. Additionally, each seminar will provide the opportunities for larger number of students to learn about and get involved with restoration.

TaskTimeframeEstimated Cost
Complete McCarty Path restoration activities3 months$1,780
Design and procure McCarty Path interpretive displays6 months$4,000
Construct paths and install interpretive displays6 months$6,172
Seminars/outreach events6 months$2,760
Photo Source: 
SER UW Chapter
Amount Awarded: 
Project status: