Kincaid Ravine Restoration Project

Executive Summary:

The Kincaid Ravine Preliminary Master Plan and Capital Improvements Program completed by UW CEP 498 students during Winter and Spring Quarters 2020 respectively, provide the basic framework for the 3.6 acre site’s long-term environmentally sustainable capital improvements which will provide the following benefits for the campus community following it’s six-year build out:

  • Improve Pedestrian Connectivity, with a system of trails joining existing built features on and adjacent to campus;
  • Provide Environmental Resilience, by controlling invasive plant infestations within the ravine, improving habitat for wildlife, provide erosion control, and improve site’s hydrological functioning;
  • Implement Flood Control Measures; by expanding the wetlands, and creating a system of sustained management measures;
  • Improve Public Safety, to ensure cleanliness of entire ravine, increased opportunity for vigilance on-site, creation of sustained public safety conditions; and
  • Promote Public Enjoyment, by accentuating site’s interpretive features using environmental educational signage, and a place for passive recreation.

Most importantly, this work will be conducted using the stewardship of UW students, both graduate and undergraduate, in both an employment and student capacity. Ultimately, the site will prove to be highly impactful in terms of all the improvements cited above, and provide meaningful environmental, social, recreational, and transportation upgrades to this site, the Burke-Gilman Trail, and the campus overall. The UW Seattle campus accommodates more than 47,000 total students (undergraduate & graduate), 5,800 academic staff (including faculty), and 16,000 administrative staff. This totals more than 70,000 potential users of this remarkably significant space which is the last remaining native open space on this huge campus.

CSF has been funding work on the Kincaid Ravine Restoration Project since 2010. During the past 2-1/2 years undergraduate students enrolled in CEP 498 have been working on various elements of the project and have completed the final draft of a Master Plan for the site which has been reviewed and approved by the office of the UW Campus Architect. It is expected that next steps in the implementation of the Master Plan will begin in Winter quarter 2021 dependent upon the availability of funding to support a graduate student who will be leading this work. This current request to CSF is for $9,500 which will fund two positions: (1) a graduate student who will lead other students' work; and (2) a licensed landscape architect to guide student work.

Student Involvement:

At the present time, our team is pursuing opportunities for bringing a graduate student on-board in order to coordinate the upcoming Kincaid Ravine process about to begin during Winter  Quarter, 2021. We are making efforts in various departments at the UW including Environmental Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, and Environmental and Civil Engineering.

The Kincaid Ravine restoration effort began in 2013 and has since produced three Master’s theses and numerous technical reports. The restoration program was re-started in 2018 by UW’s Department of Urban Design and Planning through a course led by David Blum, Affiliate Instructor. This course, CEP 498, engaged Fred Glick, Landscape Architect, to work with students by teaching them the rudiments of the landscape architecture site master planning process needed here. Their work on this project produced the Master Plan which we can share with the committee. As such, our group is well positioned to complete the final tasks required prior to the start of actual restoration. Currently, we need a grad student to lead the information gathering stage required to complete the Action Items cited last Spring, 2020, prior to moving forward with Implementation.

Following completion of the Preliminary Master Plan in Spring, 2020, the Campus Environmental and Land Use Planner and Fred Glick, Landscape Architect assembled a list of Action Items needing to be completed prior to implementation including, among others:

  1. Determine extent of prior wetlands work by the two consulting firms retained at that time by the City of Seattle;
  2. Identify all wetland and buffer permitting requirements needed to move forward;
  3. Determine classification of wetland delineations completed previously and date of delineation (Note: 5-year “lifespan”). Determine exactly what is allowed under existing code.
  4. Identify drainage and safety issues.
  5. Refine proposed changes in vegetation and trails on site.
  6. Request participation and support of the King Conservation District.
  7. Share with the consultants the current work underway, an effort that will lead to a complete access and environmental education opportunity at Kincaid Ravine;
  8. Review City Codes and the permitting process resulting in documentation needed to move forward;
  9. Determine whether an engineer’s report is required for permit allowance;
  10. Engage campus Environmental and Land Use Planner in an ongoing advisory role per her request (i.e. from Office of the University Architect);
  11. Obtain requisite approvals and grant funding;
  12. Identify and initiate discussion with non-profit agencies and organizations interested in working on Kincaid Ravine, for example:
    1. EarthCorps
    2. UW Maintenance
    3. UW Engineering
    4. UWPD
    5. ...and more.

The implementation of the Master Plan will begin in Winter quarter 2021 dependent upon the availability of funding to support a graduate student who will be leading the above work. This current request to CSF is to fund the position of the graduate student who will lead other students’ work on this project:

In addition to a graduate student who will be in a coordination role to determine the results of the 12 Action Items listed above, we will continue to work with CEP Students as well as Landscape Architecture and Engineering Students, whom to date have included a cross-section of students attending UW from other countries, including BIPOC students who have been well-represented. We believe the Kincaid Ravine project will benefit greatly from their participation. Currently we have plans to connect with the UW chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and the non-profit “Nurturing Roots”, but we are also exploring collaboration with other groups. Ultimately, it is important to us to include these often left out voices in a project that can and will provide a benefit to the whole community.

The Kincaid Ravine restoration effort began in 2013 and has since produced three Master’s theses and numerous technical reports. The restoration program was re-started in 2018 by UW’s Department of Urban Design and Planning through a course led by David Blum, Affiliate Instructor. This course, CEP 498, engaged Fred Glick, Landscape Architect, to work with students.

The students’ work on this project produced the Master Plan which we can share with the committee. By working closely with the Office of University Architect, UW Police Department, UW Facilities and Maintenance Departments, and other stakeholders we have created a Master Plan which will successfully address the various site issues enumerated above. Further student and campus community engagement will lead this work. A fully restored Kincaid Ravine will become the natural attraction accessible to everyone that it has always been meant to be.  As such, our group is well positioned to complete the final tasks required prior to the start of actual restoration.

Safety. Our team is well aware of the range of safety needs both during early planning for Kincaid Ravine, and for ongoing operations and maintenance purposes later during and after capital improvements. For example, during the Covid Pandemic crisis, our work has transitioned to on-line coursework using Zoom meetings, which is the manner in which our Spring, 2020 class was successfully conducted. Initially, students weren’t even allowed on campus, but that has since changed and on-site investigations are now acceptable as of this writing. In addition to the Covid safety issues, there are others such as hypodermic needles found randomly at the site, possibly left there by homeless folks who regularly camp out on-site due to its relatively secluded condition even within the highly used campus environment. Our team’s direction to students who must walk through the site to investigate it properly for master planning and eventual construction, is to wear heavy soled hiking boots or work boots to be certain these “sharps” will not in any way endanger them when walking through the site.

Education & Outreach:

Leadership: Student Involvement:  

A graduate student will be leading the work on this project which will be completed with the assistance of other UW students during the 2020 - 2021 academic year. Our team is currently reaching out to various University Departments and Organizations to locate and engage the graduate student for this work. In addition to the grad student, the undergraduate class members involved in Kincaid Ravine have been enrolled in CEP 498, led by David Blum, faculty instructor and Fred Glick, Landscape Architect. Currently, at least 10 undergraduate students have enrolled in CEP 498 for Winter Quarter, 2021.


The project will be integrated within the undergraduate course CEP 498 during the 2020 -2021 academic year.  Faculty teaching this course includes E. David Blum, Affiliate Instructor and Fred Glick, licensed landscape architect. This is a 5 credit course meeting twice per week and includes field work if permissible. The work completed to date by this class includes the following four quarters over the last 2-½ years:

  • Fall 2018: Developed preliminary environmental inventory for Kincaid Ravine
  • Spring 2019: Developed environmental assessment of Kincaid Ravine
  • Winter 2020: Completed Preliminary Master Plan for Kincaid Ravine
  • Spring 2020: Completed 6-Year Build-Out Program, including Capital Improvements Program elements for Kincaid Ravine

Mr. Blum and Mr. Glick will continue to educate the Graduate Student about the project vision, the nature of the site, the goals of the site development master plan, an overview and synopsis of the work to be accomplished, specifically the Action Items listed above, and the coordination and communications efforts so critically important to getting this project moving forward again.

Outreach, Behavior Change:

This project includes many elements of educational and outreach components that cultivate an awareness of the Kincaid Rainve among students, faculty and visitors to campus. Among the various levels of outreach include the objective of working closely with:

  • The office of the Campus Architect, specifically the University Environmental and Land Use Planner who has graciously offered to serve as an ongoing Advisor to this project;
  • The Campus Sustainability Fund staff;
  • The UW Department of Civil Engineering;
  • The UW Campus Police Department;
  • The Departments of Community and Environmental Planning, Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry;
  • The UW Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  • UW Police Department: security

The project effort to date has included the CEP students working with these and other departments for over two years and has plans to continue doing so throughout the course of this grant and beyond. In addition, we hope to also reach out to the following organizations:

  • UW College of Built Environments: academic faculty support and student engagement
  • UW School of Environmental and Forest Resources: academic faculty support and student engagement
  • UW School of Social Work: academic faculty support and student engagement
  • UW School of Public Health: academic faculty support and student engagement
  • UW Facilities: technical assistance with property operations & maintenance
  • UW Campus Maintenance: technical assistance with property maintenance
  • UW Chapter of National Society of Black Engineers: site design and community engagement
  • UW Latinx Student Organizations: community engagement  
  • Nurturing Roots: community engagement
  • UDistrict Non profit Organizations: community engagement  
  • The Black Student Union;
  • The Departments of Community and Environmental Planning, Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry;
Environmental Impact:
  • Transportation
  • Water
  • Environmental Justice
  • Community Development
  • Cultural Representation
  • Social Justice
Project Longevity:

The long-term work to be completed over the next year will be carefully taught to the grad student who is hired to lead this work effort day-to-day. Mr. Glick and Mr. Blum will work closely with the student to teach her/him all about the project. We will review all work completed to date in the first two phases, including the 2013-2016 grad-student led period and the 2018-2020 CEP 498 timeframe. Mr. Glick will work closely with this grad student on a regular basis, and be available for ongoing guidance, instruction and general assistance.

The truly long term management and maintenance of this project will be conducted according to the process outlined in the Capital Improvements Program completed by UW CEP 498 students in Spring Quarter, 2020. This O & M Plan describes both the 6-year project build-out as well as the fundamental components of the project requiring maintenance from build-out moving forward to subsequent years. As described in the O & M Plan, project components include the eventual upgraded and expanded wetlands, the soon-to-be newly built trail system, environmental education signage to be implemented, modest sitting areas, an art mural along the 45th Street Viaduct wall, and the upcoming conversion of the western half of the ravine’s terrain from heavily invasive plant dominated to native plant dominated, similar to the eastern half of the ravine’s terrain, that was completed during the 2013-2016 graduate student led effort. This work will need to be handled through a combination of future grant funding, University O & M funds and staff labor (such as daily UWPD patrols to find and relocate homeless folks using the ravine) and more.

Environmental Problem:

Leadership & Student Involvement:

All work on this project is to be completed by UW students during the academic year 2020 to 2021. It is expected that a graduate student will lead the project work.  

Education, Outreach & Behavior Change:

This project includes many elements of educational and outreach components that cultivate an awareness of the Kincaid Ravine among students, faculty and visitors to campus.

Our challenge is to complete the planning and design of this project using sustainability methods possible. These include: a) upgrades and improvements to the on-site wetlands, water sources (seeps, storm drainage) with the goal in mind of ending flooding of the Burke-Gilman Trail, b) complete removal of invasive plant species on-site and replace them with native plant species to ensure that Kincaid Ravine continues to be a place for environmentally native ecosystem, c) installation of safe, pathways using native materials that will allow the UWPD to patrol Kincaid Ravine on a regular (daily) basis to assure any homeless people who are found there are relocated to safe, sanitary housing.

Improve Sustainability:

This project improves the sustainability of the UW campus and/or operations by improving and maintaining one of the largest remaining natural areas accessible to all who live, work and visit the campus. Specific impacts include reductions of: carbon emissions, energy use, waste, pollutants, toxins, removal of hypodermic needles making the site safer for visitors, students and staff, prevention of flooding of the Burke-Gilman Trail. Improvements will be made to biodiversity and provide enhanced opportunities to support environmental justice and equity. Project components are environmentally sustainable in design and implementation. Areas of sustainability identified in the CSF request for proposal include: Living Systems and Biodiversity, Transportation, Water, Environmental Justice and Social Justice.

Problem Statement:

As a practical matter, every aspect of this project is about sustainability of several types. The principal problems the project hopes to resolve include: (1) existence of invasive plant materials dominating the site and forcing out native plants thereby destroying the native ecosystem; (2) a wetland system that is not able to adequately accommodate the quantity of storm runoff during significant storm events, thereby flooding the Burke-Gilman Trail, an adjacent, significant non-motorized transportation route; (3) a significant native open space which has gotten overrun by vegetation which prevents students, faculty and visitors from safely and easily walking through the site; and (4) a large, native open space on the campus which has several interacting ecological systems which are not easily understood by folks attempting to visit this site.

How This Project Addresses the Sustainability Problem:

The key components of the project include: (1) removal and replacement of remaining invasive plants throughout with native plants, to once again produce a significant environmental setting that becomes a native ecosystem once again; (2) upgrading and expanding the existing wetlands to capture enough runoff from the surrounding hillsides to prevent future flooding of Burke-Gilman Trail allowing the Trail to be utilized year-round, as is its intended purpose; (3) installation of a system of pedestrian trails enabling safe use and circulation by students, faculty and visitors; (4) a new trail system that enables daily patrols by UWPD to regularly locate homeless people and redirect them from Kincaid Ravine to safe and sanitary living conditions elsewhere; and (4) installation of environmental education signage along the trails for enjoyment and education of visitors and school groups.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:


Our project impacts will be measured by creating a database of the following site conditions on a regular basis. These include:

  1. INVASIVES VS. NATIVES: Monitoring the condition and quantity of native vegetation on a semi-annual basis, to learn how well it has adapted to replacing the invasives; quantification methods include (a) mapping specific locations of invasives that become re-introduced, (b) measure the number of square feet (area) and a percentage of the site’s total area of such invasives, (c) generate a quantity take-off of such invasives; and (d) future M & O costs to continue to remove invasives and replace with natives.
  2. FLOODING: Monitoring whether or not flooding of Burke-Gilman Trail is prevented during storm events due to the Ravine’s wetlands absorbing all runoff from the site and being at capacity; includes engaging student investigators to go out to the site after every 5 - 10 year rainstorm or higher, to view, photograph and record potential flood conditions or lack of same across Burke-Gilman Trail;
  3. SAFETY ALONG TRAILS: Monitoring whether students and visitors to Kincaid Ravine can walk safely through the site year-round; Impacts here will be measured by recording on a map of the site at regular intervals such as monthly, year-round, whether the trails’ surfaces are holding up well, or being eroded away by foot traffic, or natural elements such as storm run-off or wind conditions. The student assessment will include mapping all locations where improvements and repairs are needed, and making those insights available to Campus Maintenance.
  4. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: Requesting feedback from school groups who come to the Ravine to learn about the native ecosystems on the site, to learn whether they enjoyed their visits and understood the educational information found on the environmental education signage to be installed; Impacts here will be recorded as a) liked; b) disliked; c) no opinion; d) needs improvement; and e) what kind of improvements are needed to improve the environmental educational aspects of the site.
  5. HOMELESS CAMPS: Working with UWPD to learn how well the newly accessible site is working to enable their officers to patrol on a daily basis to relocate possible homeless folks to more safe and sanitary conditions; Impacts here will be recorded by student investigators as "evaluations of the trail system and campus operations and maintenance activities" by UWPD officers.
  6. HYPODERMIC NEEDLES (SHARPS): Searching the site to determine whether sharps have been substantially reduced and removed from the site, thereby reducing potential harm to visitors. This will be a task that can be double-covered by both student investigators and UWPD officers, simply by walking the length of the new Kincaid Ravine’s trails to see whether anyone can spot such harmful devices, locate where they’re found on a map, and report such instances and locations to UWPD for safe removal from site.

Feasibility, Accountability:

The work completed to date demonstrates that the applicant can attain the technical knowledge, necessary approvals, and project management skills in order to complete this additional work successfully.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $9,500
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Graduate Student Stipend$23 per hour326 hours$7500
Licensed Landscape Architect Consultant$60 per hour33 hours$2000

Non-CSF Sources:

King Conservation District Potential Grant ItemAmount
Student Salary$26,100
Professional Services and Consultants$33,000
Permitting Costs$10,500
Project Completion Total: $79,100


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Hire the grad studentCurrently in processJanuary 2021
Received KCD GrantCurrently in processFebruary 2021
Complete action itemsStart when funding is receivedJune 2022
Receive all permitsStart when funding is receivedJune 2022