Duwamish River, Seattle, Wash.

Duwamish River, Seattle, Wash. Credit: Chas Redmond

The Duwamish River Park during the 6th Annual Duwamish River Festival, hosted by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition.

The Duwamish River Park during the 6th Annual Duwamish River Festival, hosted by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. Credit: Chas Redmond

Seattle, Wash.

Key Activities:

  • Planting 5,300 trees and understory plants across two acres
  • Improving watershed health
  • Enhancing an urban forest for the well-being of residents

Project Description:
Working with the Nature Consortium, Alcoa Foundation and American Forests are planting 5,300 trees and understory plants in Seattle’s West Duwamish Greenbelt to help improve the river’s water quality, provide urban greenspace for residents and provide environmental justice for the surrounding communities.

Why This Project:
The West Duwamish Greenbelt represents the largest contiguous forest in Seattle, encompassing hundreds of acres along the Duwamish River — an area that has been declared an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site as one of the most polluted waterways in the country. Bordering the greenbelt are the South Park and White Center neighborhoods, which are home to some of Seattle’s most marginalized populations. By improving the West Duwamish Greenbelt, progress will be made in improving the area’s water and air quality for the benefit of the local residents, providing environmental justice to West Seattle.

Why Environmental Justice:
Environmental justice is a little known phrase with an important mission: to ensure that environmental laws, management, priorities, regulations and more encompass and include everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, income, etc. Environmental justice is especially crucial in urban areas, where many marginalized communities are suffering from poor urban forests, resulting in increased air and water pollution, diminished quality of life and more. In Seattle, a study by the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition revealed that residents of South Park have up to a 13-year shorter life expectancy than the Seattle average, which was just one of the factors leading the study to recommend expanding tree canopy throughout the Duwamish Valley’s neighborhoods to counteract worsening air pollution.

Interested in the other Washington reforestation projects in which we’ve been involved? Check out our Washington Global ReLeaf projects.