Tag Archives: Washington Department of Natural Resources

Port of Seattle and Burien to Restore Hilltop Park and Provide BIPOC Green Jobs

by Caroline Guzman

Hilltop Park is a small recreational space located nearby SeaTac Airport in the City of Burien. The neighborhood has been struggling with noise pollution, lack of green spaces, and lack of employment for People of Color. The mayor of Burien, Jimmy Matta, has joined the Port of Seattle in partnership with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), EarthCorps, Forterra, and Partner in Employment (PIE) to restore the habitat of Hilltop Park and support green jobs in historically underserved airport communities. 

“When it comes to the environment, this is a first for People of Color,” said Matta at a recent media and partner tour of the park to learn about the improvements and restoration work. “This community is 42% People of Color, 25% Latino, and we’re 54,000 residents. So, the partnerships are here not because they were forced, but it’s because they’re excited to get involved.” The new restoration habitat will plant 270 trees and remove 60,000 square feet of invasive plants by this fall with the help of EarthCorps. Additionally, the proposal will provide green jobs to the local youth through PIE. The trees planted at the park will help sequester carbon produced by the airplanes, meaning more clean air for passive enjoyment. 

Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck spoke about pushing for more funds, an endowment of $10 million, to advance this and similar projects around the city. “The airport communities are disproportionately affected. We know all the disparities that happen here, and this is where we can make a difference,” said Steinbrueck.

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More Wildfires in Western Washington Spur Increased Firefighting Funding and Training

by Jack Russillo

Washington’s 2021 fire season has already begun and forecasts are saying that it could be just as bad as — and potentially worse than — the 2020 season that saw nearly a million acres burn and more incidents of wildfire than the historic 2015 fire season.

In the latest session, the State Legislature passed House Bill 1168 that will allocate more than $125 million over the next two years to firefighting and forest restoration efforts across the state to tackle wildfires, an increasingly destructive issue for Washingtonians on the west side of the Cascades, even in urban areas. In recent decades, more people have moved into forestlands, and this creates more challenges for responding to wildfires on the borders of urban areas, the bill says.

“Because the climate is changing, we in western Washington are experiencing a drier climate and we’ve had wildland fires in March, which is pretty much unheard of,” said Battalion Chief Brian Dodge of the Puget Sound Fire Authority. “It’s an issue that everyone here on the west side needs to be aware of. And because of the milder winters and the warmer summers, it’s going to continue. It’s all about climate change. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, it’s happening. Because our weather is changing, it puts us at greater risk for these fires. And because we haven’t had these fires regularly, which leaves a lot of dead and down fuel on the ground, which puts us at risk for more intense wildfires.”

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