Kincaid Ravine Restoration Project

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF:

Letter of Intent:


We seek to restore Kincaid Ravine, transforming this forgotten space from a declining and unsafe area to an ecologically healthy campus forest. This work will increase native species biodiversity, and enhance the ravine’s ability to perform important ecosystem services. Additionally, it will create an outdoor laboratory for academic exploration on campus, and a space for students to engage with the natural world just steps from their residence halls. This project is being developed through a partnership with Professor Gordon Bradley, UW Grounds, and EarthCorps.


Kincaid Ravine, a plot of land in the northeast corner of the UW campus, is one of the last pieces of forested open space on campus. Preserved from development at the urging of the first student environmental activists in the early 1970s, the ravine is a living testament to the power and prescience of students. Unfortunately, a variety of human impacts (historic logging, nearby development, and the introduction of invasive species) have altered the ravine’s ecological character, leaving us today with a landscape in decline. The existing trees are coming to the end of their natural lifespan, and the dominance of invasive species on the forest floor has choked out new trees and prevented the regeneration of the canopy. The space is also frequently the site of homeless encampments, and is not perceived to be accessible or safe for students. Without restoration, we will watch the forest die over the next generation, and lose the opportunity to reclaim the space from negative uses. We seek to perform major ecological restoration in the ravine to enhance the ecosystem services it provides, increase native species biodiversity, and provide a safe space for students to learn and explore. We envision one year of intensive work to reset the ecological trajectory, coupled with three years of declining maintenance.

This project will take place over two phases:

Phase I involves major removal of invasive species, installing more than 1,100 native plants, and other restoration work. To maximize student involvement, this will occur over the academic year of 2013-2014.

Phase II involves three years of maintenance, including monitoring, removing invasive species regrowth, and care for native species. This phase will be performed in partnership with UW Grounds, academic units, and other RSOs. After Phase II, we expect the project will be established enough that it can be maintained by UW Grounds at little additional expense.


The project provides for a variety of environmental benefits. Restoration will sustain and enhance the ecosystem services provided by the ravine, including stormwater retention, air filtration, and carbon sequestration. By increasing native species biodiversity, the project will provide habitat for appropriate native wildlife, and by substantially increasing the number of evergreen trees, the project will be contributing to UW’s and the City of Seattle’s efforts to increase the urban tree canopy.


We anticipate that a student, in collaboration with project partners, will serve as the project manager. Ongoing stewardship will be conducted through unique partnerships with academic units and RSOs. For example, UW fraternity Phi Kappa Theta will reorient their philanthropy work to provide stewardship through quarterly work parties. We anticipate that by the time we present you with a full proposal, we will have identified additional partnerships for long-term student involvement in the project.


The project will be highly visible – it takes place on the Burke Gilman Trail, the highest-use pedestrian facility in the city, as well as immediately adjacent to the north campus residence halls. During the implementation of the project, we will engage appropriate academic classes to do formal environmental education, as well as utilize volunteer events to engage hundreds of students in informal education. Finally, once the project is completed, the ravine can serve as an outdoor laboratory for classes focused on restoration, forestry, botany, and more.


Restoration requires thoughtful planning, technical skill, and a long-term commitment. We believe our project is set up for success both in the near- and long-term. The project partners have a demonstrated history of successful restoration projects throughout the Puget Sound over two decades. We will bring this skill to our work in Kincaid Ravine.


  • Gordon Bradley, from the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, has extensive experience in natural resource management. He sees the potential to create an outdoor laboratory on campus for restoration.
  • UW Grounds is the official manager of the ravine and supports its restoration. Over the long term, restoration will decrease maintenance costs and increase the safety and aesthetics of the land; however, at this time UW Grounds is unable to invest the substantial upfront costs associated with restoration. Hillary Burgess, the IPM and Sustainability Coordinator, will serve as the liaison between UW Grounds and the project.
  • The project is being undertaken in partnership with EarthCorps, a local non-profit organization dedicated to community-based ecological restoration. Each year, hundreds of UW students perform service-learning hours with EarthCorps at parks across Seattle – and this project provides the opportunity to engage those students in stewardship of their own campus. Justin Hellier, a UW alumnus and former CSF Committee member will serve as the liaison between EarthCorps and the project.


We anticipate requesting a budget of approximately $62,000, which includes the following line items: Outreach Materials for Student Involvement $2,000 Salary for Student Project Manager $10,000 • Part-time position for three quarters Phase I Restoration Expenses $35,000 • Invasive removal • Planting • Materials Phase II Maintenance Fund $15,000 • Set-aside for three year maintenance costs • Includes replacement plants, monitoring, and other unanticipated expenses.

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Matt Schwartz