Friends Of Madrona Woods Madrona Woods

Welcome to Madrona Woods

May 3, 2011 by · Comments Off on Welcome to Madrona Woods
Filed under: About Us 

Since 1998, Friends of Madrona Woods has teamed up with the Green Seattle Partnership to turn this nine-acre urban forest into a welcoming place for people and wildlife and to encourage its return to a more natural and sustainable state. This has involved clearing invasive ivy, holly, laurel, clematis and blackberry and revegetating with native trees, shrubs, and ground covers. We have also reworked the trails system, and daylighted two streams. In the process of stream daylighting, FOMW added the Madrona Ravine west of 38th Avenue and a new natural area and cove in Madrona Park to its stewardship, bringing our total acreage to over 10.5.


November 10, 2015 by · Comments Off on Rebirth/Regeneration
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Usually people, appropriately enough, write about rebirth in the spring. But restoration geeks sometimes think a bit backwards. Fall is the opposite of spring. We give damaged nature a helping hand by transplanting native plants into natural areas, and we do it in the fall to maximize survival rates. We have a fall planting event coming up in Madrona Woods on Sat Nov 28, from 10-1. Please join us.


Another way to think about rebirth is: “out with the old, in with the new.” The picture above shows recent large fallen branches from a 100 year old big leaf maple that is nearing the end of its lifespan.


This picture shows one of dozens of new Douglas fir trees that are regenerating (growing from seed) in Madrona Woods. They’re all in a relatively small spot where we cleared ivy in 2007. Their ancestor (150 ft tall or so) is nearby. In the last 10 years nearby trees and branches have fallen, creating a window of sunshine. This is a sign of a self-sustaining conifer forest, one of the primary goals in our project. When the deciduous, short lifespan maples and alders die, we want the long lifespan evergreen conifers to be able to succeed them and establish themselves as the biggest, baddest trees around.

Pre-Olmstead Plans for Madrona Woods

October 7, 2015 by · Comments Off on Pre-Olmstead Plans for Madrona Woods
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Thanks to Jennie Grant for sending me this 1905 map that shows 38th Ave, 39th Ave, and Marion St all cutting directly across what is now Madrona Woods. Plus there is an alley between 38th and 39th. Building these roads would have taken a lot of construction! I think we can probably all agree we’re glad this plan was never implemented.

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Lakeside Work Party on a Beautiful Early Fall Day

September 29, 2015 by · Comments Off on Lakeside Work Party on a Beautiful Early Fall Day
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On Sept 26, the people in these pictures spent a beautiful morning helping us. They planted 30 really big shrubs. They hauled about 500 lbs of water up from the lake to water the plants. They cleared 500 sq ft of blackberry and other invasive plants. They hauled the pulled invasive plants 200 yards to our big pile. They are pictured here next to Lake Washington, looking at an awesome view of Mt Rainier.


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Cooper’s Hawks in Madrona Woods and Seattle

September 25, 2015 by · Comments Off on Cooper’s Hawks in Madrona Woods and Seattle
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Madrona Woods has been home to a successful nesting pair of Cooper’s hawks for several years. They have fledged 5 young. They nest in the ravine above the haipin turn, where there are no trails. It turns out that there are lots of these hawks nesting in Seattle. See this report for details.

Fire Quickly Extinguished in Madrona Woods

March 17, 2015 by · Comments Off on Fire Quickly Extinguished in Madrona Woods
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On Sunday March 1, a big Douglas Fir in Madrona Woods got a hot foot! It ended up charred about 20 ft up above ground level. Thanks to the Seattle Fire Department for putting out the fire! Thanks also to the person(s) who reported this fire to 911 – they most likely also waited for the fire department to show up and told them the tale. Otherwise how could the Fire Dept have found the blaze 100 yds into the woods?

Our Little Creek with a Mind of Its Own

February 24, 2015 by · Comments Off on Our Little Creek with a Mind of Its Own
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Creek repair 1-15


by Judith Starbuck, Grand Avenue, interview with Peggy Gaynor, Gaynor, Inc.

Our Madrona Woods restoration group hopes you’re enjoying the Madrona Creek as much as we are. I especially love the sound of it from the bridges. Landscape architect Peggy Gaynor is the mastermind behind the Madrona Woods restoration, and in particular the daylighting of Madrona Creek. Our January work party included repair to that creek, with Peggy’s guidance on patching and shoring up places where the water was going where it wasn’t intended to. Here are some of Peggy’s thoughts on creek maintenance.

JS: Did you foresee how many times our group would need to bring the creek back into its constructed banks when it had either gone off to the side or into a hole?

PG: No. We have discovered a lot of concrete debris that was dumped in the ravine where the creek flows. The dumping was done back in the days when environmental concerns were not on the radar. This has created voids under the surface, and water has a way of finding the path of least resistance—these voids in this case. A number of times the water has seemed to disappear into a hole, and we’ve had to patch the stream bed to get it back on course at the surface. We don’t want the stream to continue underground and possibly undermine Lake Washington Boulevard. We use a natural clay called Bentonite, which expands when mixed with water and seals off these areas like the caulk in a bathtub. First filling the void with mud and gravel, then a mix of Bentonite and sand topped with a protective layer of rocks and gravel plugs the “leaks,” but some have required more than one fix.

JS: How does our creek compare with other daylighted creeks you’ve worked on?

PG: This creek daylighting was more challenging due to elevation change (over 750 feet elevation gain from Lake to headwaters) and the unknown soil/landfill issues along the creek corridor mentioned above. So far this is the only daylighted stream that goes from its headwaters in springs in the hillside between 37th and 38th streets into the lake. Though the distance is short, just over a quarter of a mile, it’s providing fresh water and nutrients for salmon migrating along the shore of Lake Washington.

JS: How do you see creek maintenance in the future?

PG: Future maintenance should be more of a partnership between Seattle Parks and Friends of Madrona Woods, and it will likely involve some additional expertise and consultation for long-term solutions, especially for the “leaks” and sinkhole issues. Experts could include geotechs and even stone masons. It will still be up to Friends’ volunteers to keep watch on the creek and notice when it seems to be going astray and needs attention.

Two Fallen Sentinels

December 16, 2014 by · Comments Off on Two Fallen Sentinels
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Last Thursday, Dec 11, we had a very big wind storm. The two big casualties in Madrona Woods were pacific madrones, aka arbutus menziesii. These are the “naming trees” for both our park and our neighborhood. Arbutus menziesii is a very distinctive Pacific Northwest native tree, found in coastal areas like the Magnolia bluffs, or anywhere in the San Juan islands. It is the only broadleaf evergreen tree native to the Pacific Northwest. We have only a few left in Madrona Woods, so losing two is quite a blow. Fortunately, some natural regeneration of madrones is taking place in the woods, thanks to all the clearing work we have done.

The larger of the two fell without completely being uprooted, and was left suspended over the trail. I was reluctant to chop this tree up, because it could have survived as it was. But safe and welcoming trails are a priority for us, so this tree had to go.


The smaller tree was less healthy, and was completely uprooted by the wind. Its position on the ground made it a bit more difficult to saw, due to “binding.”


The two madrones (18 inch diameter) fell across the top of the stairway in the woods. I set out this afternoon with a small bow saw, an axe, and a sledge. 4 hours later the trail was completely cleared. I was aided only by gravity. Gravity has often been my undoing, so it was nice to have its help.

In the course of my pleasant labor on a beautiful day, with a beautiful view, I met:

  • A father and very young daughter. She was dressed as batgirl, complete with mask. They had already climbed the stairs (100 vertical ft). She climbed over the tree (not yet removed from the trail) quite cheerfully.
  • An out of town visitor who was very happy to find a 10 acre well-maintained greenspace in the middle of urban Seattle.
  • Another hiker who cheerfully offered to help me. This was early in the 4 hours – I might have taken him up on his offer during the last hour!
  • A couple of dog walkers who controlled their dogs, who also hopped gracefully over the logs. Thanks to all dog owners who do the right thing.


December 12, 2014 by · Comments Off on Vandalism
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There has been a lot of vandalism in Madrona Woods in the last 3 years. See our ongoing summary.

The Myth of Madrona Woods

May 9, 2014 by · Comments Off on The Myth of Madrona Woods
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Spring Weather, and a Fence

March 14, 2014 by · Comments Off on Spring Weather, and a Fence
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The last few days have shown us that Spring can come. Amid news of a Crystal Mountain ski lift getting wiped out by an avalanche, it’s nice to see Madrona Woods reliably regenerating itself: osoberry, red-flowering currant, and trillium are as usual the early season providers of hope, color, scent, and proof of life.

But what’s new? We have a fence at the Grand/Spring entrance. This fence was installed by the Seattle Parks Department’s Natural Areas Crew. It is intended to support restoration of an area where a large amount of native vegetation was removed, by a person or persons unknown. The Parks Crew built the fence, planted new native vegetation, and mulched the area. Thanks to Lisa Ciecko and Mark Mead at Parks/Green Seattle Partnership for making this happen so well and so quickly!

If you walk by this entrance, please check out the fence, and please keep an eye out for persons removing vegetation. Any Madrona Woods volunteer (even if working solo) will always be happy to talk to you and explain what they are doing. Feedback about the fence may be sent to me,

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  • Mission Statement

    The Friends of Madrona Woods strive to restore the Woods to a healthy, natural state by removing non-native invasive plants and revegetating with diverse native plants and to make the Woods safe and accessible through an environmentally friendly trail system.