Educational Signage + Benches for Kincaid Ravine

Executive Summary:

Educational signage and benches for Kincaid Ravine aims to install 2 benches handmilled from leftover timber cut down by the campus arborist, and three 12"x12" educational signs designed by UW Museology students and produced professionally by Fossil Graphics. This educational "nook" is located just south of the wetland, on the eastern perimeter of the Kincaid Ravine restoration site, approximately 15 feet off of the Burke Gilman Trail (BGT). See attached map. It will create an essential education and outreach component to the sustainability initiatives already occurring in Kincaid Ravine. The total budget of $3,382 includes the costs of design, materials, production, and shipping of signage, as well as materials and production of the benches.  The Society for Ecological Restoration- UW (SER-UW) will spearhead installation. Kincaid Ravine Student Project Manager Matt Schwartz and the Kincaid Ravine 2015 intern Andrew Jauhola will coordinate and oversee the process.

Specific Concerns:

  1. Public Safety has been an ongoing issue in Kincaid Ravine.  Homelessness is a challenging issue to consider during restoration projects- since the homeless are continually neglected, displaced and marginalized in our society. However, the pervasion of intravenous needles and trash on site is unacceptable on a campus site and is damaging to public safety as well as to restoration efforts. The three principle means to reduce encampments are 1) the installation of “Restoration Crews On Site, Please Vacate the Premises” signs in 2014    2) the clearing of dense vegetation to eliminate ‘hidden areas’   3) the conversion of the site into an actively useable space for students and volunteers.   The third action may eventually include an official path that would connect north campus to the stadium area. Signage and benches are a preliminary step in accomplishing this goal of converting the Ravine into a functional space for UW students, classes and community members. Increased traffic in the ravine would make it more difficult for encampments to establish. The educational nook would also serve as a meeting place for classes that want to explore the ravine. Signs and benches are the next logical step in advancing the University’s commitment to the site and are a symbol of UW taking back this once neglected area.
  2. See attached map for location details. Red rectangles = bench locations. Black squares = sign locations. See Environmental Impact section for content details. See Project Longevity section for maintenance details.
  3. Benches and signage were not in the scope of the original Kincaid Ravine grant, the Supplementary Ask, or the grant provided by the King Conservation District. Those grants are focused solely on ecological restoration and due to the formidable challenges of severe environmental neglect, steep slopes and homeless encampment cleanup, there is not an opportunity to allocate those funds towards this educational aspect. Converting Kincaid Ravine into a safe and ecologically healthy forested laboratory is an ambitious process that will yield years of specialty projects- such as the Educational Nook, Wetland Enhancement, Pollinator Gardens, etc.. These will each need separate funding as they develop in their own rights.

Student Involvement:

The lead on this project will be Andrew Jauhola, a Project on the Environment capstone student that will be interning in Kincaid Ravine this winter quarter. Other students connected with the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) will be involved in supporting this project and installing the benches and signage. Matt Schwartz, the current graduate student Project Manager at Kincaid Ravine will be supporting Andrew and SER volunteers in this effort. Museology students Angela Mele and Kate Nowell will be designing the signs and facilitating production. Through designing, building, and installing signs and benches in Kincaid Ravine, a diverse community of students will experience valuable teamwork. Students may also learn from each other through a wide array of knowledge and skills required in this project.

This will be an excellent opportunity for students from multiple departments to work with Facilities Services and professional production companies to successfully design, produce and install signage and benches. Working with real world type situations, students will gain career experience. Students will be required to coordinate with each other as well as institutions to create quality signs and benches. This type of teamwork, organization and institutional coordination is not exclusive to this project, but is highly applicable to the futures of the many parties involved; a valuable experience for students and faculty.

Andrew Jauhola will be conducting pollinator research at Kincaid Ravine this winter as part of his capstone senior project. He will be gaining valuable skills in research, proposal writing, outreach coordination, and restoration designs and protocols. By providing information and research Andrew will work with Project Manager Matt Schwartz not only to install signs, benches, and pollinator gardens, but also to publish a valuable pollination pamphlet for restoration practitioners around Seattle.

Many other students involved will learn and gain experience from this project. Matt Schwartz will learn managerial skills through coordinating and working with the many collaborators on this project. Many SER volunteers will gain valuable hands on experience through project design and implementation. Angela and Kate could apply what they will learn from their role in this project in many future real world situations.

Kincaid Ravine is a living, breathing, haven of opportunity, not only to conduct in depth research and capstone projects, but also to educate and foster community on campus. Through a variety of events and work parties, volunteers have managed to remove a substantial amount of invasive species and replace them with healthy native plants. The removal of invasive species such as Himalayan blackberries has opened Kincaid Ravine up to researchers like Matt and Andrew, who are excited to further the cohesion previous efforts have created. Just a short walk from many busy spaces, the benches and signs put in at Kincaid Ravine will be an asset to a wonderful campus area; a natural oasis for people to learn, research, or simply enjoy lunch.

Education & Outreach:

Kincaid Ravine is not just another neglected natural area of Seattle; it is an area of active research, community, and education. With signs to show people the value of such a place, and benches for people to relax on and enjoy, Kincaid Ravine will be a healthy rest stop just footsteps from residences and campus. Making clear the legitimacy and purpose of Kincaid ravine is key to people valuing nature’s processes in the area. Also, being just off of the BGT, the benches would be a perfect rest place for the many joggers or bikers throughout the day.

Signage at this high visibility location will be an impactful tool to A) spread awareness about forest restoration ecology, and B) publicly recognize the partners and funders who have made this project possible.  Elisabeth McLaughlin, Architect of the Forest Segment of the BGT reconstruction, is enthusiastic about incorporating this educational nook into design plans for the new trail to optimize the chance for pedestrians and bicyclists to take a rest off the trail and learn about the restoration project. 

The specific environmental themes that the 3 signs will elaborate upon include

  1. Title Sign: Includes
    1. title "Welcome to the Kincaid Ravine restoration project",
      It is important to install a title sign to display that this 4 acre urban forest has an official name and that passionate volunteers are working to restore and conduct valuable research. A title sign will also educate people who are eager to learn and hopefully inspire them to volunteer and take action. Being just off of a heavily traveled trail, the title sign will inform a variety of people that Kincaid Ravine is a legitimate restoration site with stewards, students, and volunteers who seek to reinvigorate the declining ecosystem located there.
    2. ~40 words of text explaining the basic concept of forest restoration, native vs. invasive vegetation. The following text will be distilled down to ~40 words upon meeting with the designers.
      "Forests make up around 30% of the worlds terrestrial area, and yet they contain over 75% of the worlds terrestrial biodiversity. Both the amount and quality of these biomes is declining due to such factors as population, urbanization, and, most notably for our area of research, invasive vegetation. Invasive plants have the ability to spread and thrive in areas outside of their natural habitat. By colonizing an area where ecology, insects, animals and diseases fail to balance its growth, an invasive plant can out compete a native, and therefore degrade the natural balance of a native ecosystem and its inhabitants.”
    3. partner logos including the CSF, Earth Corps, King Conservation District, UW Botanical Gardens, Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail.
  2. Wetland Sign: 50-100 words of text explaining the importance and function of this hydrologic feature. The following text will be distilled down to ~75 words upon meeting with the designers.
    "Wetlands are the kidneys of the earth. They act as a filter for rainfall and groundwater flow, a retention and release mechanism for rainfall, and a valuable asset to native wildlife. Wetlands filter surface water by decomposing organic matter, filtering out sediments, and recycling nutrients by converting chemicals to usable forms. Plant root systems stabilize runoff allowing for the slow release of water after heavy rains, providing flood control and erosion control. Wetland impact mitigation, restoration, and creation have become increasingly common as humans have realized the unique and invaluable services wetlands provide."
  3. Pollinator Garden Sign: 50-100 words of text explaining the importance of native pollinators (native bees, hummingbirds, songbirds) and describing the pollinator gardens that were installed underneath the power lines (colorful spring flower bloom will be aesthetically complementary to this sign). The following text will be distilled down to ~75 words upon meeting with the designers.
    "Close to 75% of the flowering plants on the earth rely to some degree on pollinators in order to set seed or fruit. Pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds provide ecological services that are integral to ecosystems, wildlife, and the many flowering plants we rely on for food. By installing attractive pollinator gardens people will enjoy beautiful spring blooms and valuable information on the services pollinators provide.”



Environmental Impact:
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
  • Water
  • Environmental Justice
Project Longevity:

There is very little maintenance needed for this project. The benches are fixed in the ground, each with 2 long galvanized metal stakes. The benches are extremely heavy but can be moved as necessary. A chain with I-hooks and a lock will ensure that they are not stolen. They will eventually decompose in their natural process but will maintain their function for decades. The signage is made of phenolic resin with a 10 year graffiti proof warranty (Fossil Industries). The signs will be solidly mounted on a single post, and can be moved if needed. There is no additional funding needed as the project scope is intended at this point. Funding sources will need to be investigated for further developing the educational nook in the future. Future developments may include more signs, more benches, or a walking path. This would likely be up to Grounds Management as they may take over direct stewardship in the future.

Environmental Problem:

The evolution of the Kincaid Ravine restoration project is at the critical point where institutional support has grown and must be matched by community support. An educational nook will directly amplify the environmental impact of the Kincaid Ravine restoration project.

Many Kincaid Ravine work party volunteers are accustomed to students, local community members and BGT users approaching to ask more about the project, or to comment on the visible success. Signage will legitimize the restoration by deeming it official, and the benches will be a chance to invite these curious passersby to become part of this natural oasis for a few minutes. This connection to nature can be invaluable for urban dwellers. 

Studies have shown that people who spend time in natural environments can be happier and healthier. Sitting or being active in a forest setting can improve immune function, relieve stress, and improve focus. In the busy lifestyle of an urban environment, it is valuable to have natural spaces where people can relax and relieve stress. Signage and benches will bring people into this natural area, where they can enjoy the benefits provided by spending time in a natural environment.

Passersby will be able to connect the visible vegetation changes and flower blooms in the site, with written text and images that explain the purpose of these changes. It is also a technique for drawing more volunteers into the project as a way to channel the enthusiasm of the local community. 

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

As an educational and awareness tool, the impacts of this project will be understood by the increased amount of community and institutional support. This includes but is not limited to: # of volunteers, # of subscribers to the SER listserve, and continued commitment of project partners. These factors all directly contribute to the # of native plants installed, the acreage of invasive plants eradicated, the improvement of water quality factors in the wetlands, the decrease in stormwater quantity discharging from the site directly into the Puget Sound, and the # of native birds and invertebrate pollinators that use the site for food and nesting. All of these quantitative factors are measured and documented in the Project Manager's site reports.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $3,382
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost

Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total: $3,382


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Sign design2 months4/15/15
Sign production6 weeks6/1/15
Sign installation1 day6/1/15
Bench production2 months6/1/15
Bench installation1 day6/1/15