Amount Awarded:
Funding Received:
Project Status:
 Active: Planning phase

Executive Summary

Home to the largest Douglas-fir on campus and an imperiled heron rookery, Heron Haven has the profound potential to become a thriving, biologically-rich greenspace that students, faculty, and staff can engage with. If ‘empty’ spaces on the UW campus were looked at through the lens of an ecologist, many would be identified as ecologically unhealthy and in need of remediation. Heron Haven is currently one of these unhealthy spaces. Though the site beautifully frames a view of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades with its towering stand of mixed conifers, it’s ecology is threatened by our changing climate and many common invasive species. Situated immediately south of Drumheller Fountain is a wedge of greenspace lovingly dubbed Heron Haven, so named because of the heron rookery that exists in its upper canopy. Despite being central to campus and situated immediately in the vicinity of UW’s environmentally-focused departments, Heron Haven hopelessly exists without a keeper. It is densely vegetated, but with various monocultures of invasive weeds, including the smothering groundcover English Ivy. Cherry laurel, Himalayan blackberry, English hawthorn, and Italian arum have also successfully outcompeted native species, suppressing much needed plant diversity. A lack of plant diversity means there is also a lack of diversity in all other organisms that inhabit this space, from insects, to mammals, to bacteria. The low diversity of flora and fauna contributes to poor environmental resiliency, especially in the face of imminent climate change. This project aims to re-establish native flora that can withstand the aforementioned stresses of climate change while also maintaining and restoring populations of native fauna. I propose restoring the site by removing invasive plants, establishing native plantings, and adding human elements, such as paths, seating areas, and interpretive signage. Doing this would turn Heron Haven into an activated, welcoming space that invites students to interact with the environment around them rather than idly passing by. Through close collaboration with the UW chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration, UW Grounds Management, the Department of Landscape Architecture, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and many individual volunteers, Heron Haven will become a space that embodies the natural character of our unique Cascadia ecoregion, connecting students to the unique landscape in our own backyard.

Primary Contact:
Nikoli Stevens