December 29

47 trees vandalized in Beaver Pond Natural Area



It’s not only personal property that is under attack in Maple Leaf. On Dec. 15, the Beaver Pond Natural Area (formerly Thornton Creek Park No. 6) east of Northgate Mall was vandalized, according to Ruth Williams, vice president of the Thornton Creek Alliance, whose news tip made the KCPQ-13 News.

Williams says that branches were illegally removed from 47 trees and saplings  in the corridor just behind Pacific Medical Center, at 10416 Fifth Ave. N.E., at a height of 10 feet. The branches were left where they fell, often on top of plantings, which likely were either planted or have been maintained by the team of volunteers that cares for the natural area. From the news tip:

Here is a clash between urban forest restoration and neighborhood security gone awry, a devastating loss for the Thornton Creek restoration community. … For about two decades volunteers have been at work restoring this site as a functioning urban forest/park.  They have spent hundreds of hours  of their ‘free time’ weeding out invasive plants and replacing them with native plants and trees.  Students from Seattle and all over the world have worked in this park.  Their work was being rewarded as the area became beautiful and wildlife returned.  Volunteers have applied for and spent grant money from the City of Seattle here.  In fact, right now Seattle Parks is in the beginning phases of a $500K improvement project.

Unbeknownst to the volunteers, the neighborhood on the east side of the park has been suffering from a wave of petty crime over the past few years.  Some of these neighbors knew the volunteers, but never mentioned this problem to them.  Did they report these crimes to the police?  We haven’t been able to find out.  But one man was frustrated enough to take things into his own hands and destroy about 10 years’ worth of work, probably without making his neighborhood much safer at all.

Seattle Parks has filed a police report.  Parks will be working with the volunteers to repair the site as much as possible, being careful of the sightlines of course.  Most of the cut trees are conifers, and they never grow back where branches have been cut away.  Everyone in the forest restoration community is upset by this loss.

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  1. Has anyone spoken to the community council about this? Theoretically, they are there to represent the people of Maple Leaf. Sounds like the people of Maple Leaf want less crime and better safety in the wilderness area. Maybe the council should spend some time on this, instead of arguing about park dedications. Just a thought.

  2. These “kids” are part of the community. It is their park too.
    You label them as a criminal to deny them their status as a human being worthy of recognition.
    Chances are that others, outside of the community, have done the same thing and that is why they are the type of person they are.
    Try hugging one of them sometime rather than a tree.
    You might experience a pleasant surprise.

  3. It is possible to traverse Roosevelt using the Thornton Creek Culvert. At low flow, it isn’t deep enough to get your high top Converse Chuck Taylors wet. The cops need to know this.

    The criminals are aware of it, and have used the culvert to elude police.

    Meth cooks have used the creek to rinse their equipment.

    Will a police representative be at the meeting tomorrow (1/11/12)?

    I think it is interesting that NE 105th, a one lane road with a sheer drop off into Thornton Creek, is a two way road…and NE 103rd Street, which is wide enough for two way traffic, is a one way street. ?!

    NE 105th between 5th and 8th should be vacated and deeded to the park as a pedestrian/bike only trail. Fill and grade the hill by the north graffiti wall and give us the wheelchair accessible 3/12 slope sidewalk we were supposed to get when they built the library (remember steel got expensive and they trimmed $1,000,000 of amenities to pay for it?) The proposed connection between the library property and the park was nixed, much to the neighborhoods detriment.

  4. John, It was teens in my house. I caught them in the act. And they ran down to the creek and were never found by the police.

  5. While the teens in the park are annoying, they likely aren’t the ones doing the residential / home burglaries. It is a group of adult professional thieves who move from one neighborhood to the next. A few weeks ago it was the wedgwood / view ridge area getting hit hard, now they have moved on to their next neighborhood. Crime happens in the city, but it is low in maple leaf compared to most other neighborhoods. There have only been 3 residential burglaries in the past 3 weeks in maple leaf according to the SPD crime map. And remember, northgate mall is not a part of the maple leaf neighborhood.

  6. Hi Ruth
    Let me know when you head over this way and we may be able to organise showing you around – I actually live in Northern NSW – in a town called Murwillumbah. I previously worked as Area Manager for the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service looking after National Parks – including Mt Warning. We’re based on the remnants of a caldera – (extinct volcano) and are dominated by very hilly country with vast expanses of Sub-Tropical Rainforest. Very impressive. Let me know how it all works out – sounds like you’ve got it under control.

  7. Wadical Weft – A fellow volunteer has made a search and removed branches from over the plantings. Parks is going to come in, make mulch piles of the cuttings, and repair the trees as much as possible. These natural areas rely heavily on volunteers and aren’t really assigned too much staff time.

    Parks had said they were going to prune and improve sight lines, but they hadn’t got to it yet. No pruning was part of the grant, and the actual in-the-park work won’t begin until spring-summer of 2013.

    As of yesterday Parks had not filed the police report of the cutting.

    I encourage everyone to follow that link and learn about the grant. These are things that I, TCA, Thornton Creek Watershed Oversight Council, and many others in the community believe would be of great value to the park, creek function, and the community. If there are things you’d love to see in this park, TCA is happy to help you draft your grant proposal.

    To learn more about the value of our urban trees people should take a look here:

    Here you can learn more about the City of Seattle’s considerations for Thornton Creek:

    Sign me ‘Wational Warp’

  8. Nigel – We are in agreement about the meetings. At the 1/11 grant meeting we have allotted a significant portion to these issues, and we are looking for community input.

    On 1/26, 7:00pm, at Meadowbrook Community Center, is the TCA meeting. It will be an open, free-ranging discussion format, and everyone is invited to attend. Representatives from Parks and other public support agencies will be invited to listen and share plans and policies.

    Thank you for sharing your very impressive link! You have clearly got a significant organization going. (My Kiwi nephew recently relocated to Gold Coast. I’m not sure which one yet, but one day we’ll come and check it out for ourselves.)

  9. Concerning the natural area: Have the dropped branches been picked up? While there may be disagreement on the cutting, it would seem to me that given the particular previous state of the park, leaving the branches on the ground would just kill the undergrowth.

    Also, isn’t there a major project planned for this area starting in May? Would these trees have been trimmed anyway?

  10. Hi Ruth and Susan.
    I understand the difficult position Ruth is in – trying to take on a job that no-one wants, but secretly most are happy to see being done (by someone else!). I hope my comments weren’t seen as criticism. However, what’s good about this debate is that it has gotten the community engaged (or is enraged the right word?). I reckon the next best step would be to get all the players together and look at the current management plan or operations plan or community plan (call it what you will) and see what issues can be teased out, what can be agreed upon and what needs further development (the urban crime and feelings of risk seem to be big ones). It may be that some of those that are involved in the discussion have some good solutions (and spare time) to assist. I currently head up the Natural Areas Management Unit for the Gold Coast City Council in SE Queensland (Australia). It’s the 3rd largest local govt. authority in Australia – check out the Gold Coast City Council website if you’re interested. We have lots of urban interface to our 15,000 hectares (that’s about 33,500 acres) of natural areas and are constantly having issues with neighbours trimming trees in our reserves for safety, fire and “view preservation” reasons, despite our best efforts and those of our volunteers (like Ruth) to minimise issues. Good luck with it! Treading the line between ecological processes and urban pressure ain’t easy!
    Thanks for listening!

  11. @Josh, “What can you do about that? Sue the owners for running a ‘Nuisance Property’?”

    What you do is call the King County Assessor’s Office and ask for the name of the person(s) paying taxes on the property or properties. Then you put pressure on the landlord, as a community, to enforce stricter standards. Not discriminate against renters but crack down. Many landlords don’t know that they can do criminal as well as civil background checks. They can get drug dealers on things like “excessive foot trafficking”. They can do random safety checks of units on short notice. They can enforce occupancy and lease restrictions; so if your tenant has no criminal history but then later tries to move in people who aren’t on the lease, they can be evicted. I’m not a lawyer, obviously.

    The goal is not to harass low income renters, because that doesn’t make you a criminal, but to oust anyone who engages in criminal behavior.

  12. Nigel – Welcome to Up Over There! Informed comments are always welcome!

    For the record:

    The first time I was asked to steward this park I said no. I kept saying no for five years. The reason was that there was so little community support for it. However, I did play the role informally, and the park did need a steward. When it was time to draw up the long range plan in 2002 I agreed to take the title. I have actually been filling the role to tbe best of my ability since 1994. If someone else wants it, I would be happy to meet you.

  13. Thanks Nigel! I think that is all anyone wants, to be included in the environmental equation. It is an urban park and the neighbors are as much a part of the environment as the animals and the plants. The neighbors should be able to feel safe in their own neighborhood.

  14. Hi
    Hope you don’t mind an interloper from “Down Under” (Australia) getting involved in this, but just wanted to reassure you that this type of issue isn’t restricted to your town! I’ve been involved in the Park Management field in state and local govt for over 30 years, and find that this type, of thing happens all the time (I’ve been guilty of creating such scenarios myself).I think the root of the problem is that we ecologists / environmentalists often forget that there is a social component to the environment (ie people’s needs and wishes). Society is a part of ecology / environmentalism, not something that is isolated from it. If we forget that we run the risk of creating this type of polarized debate that creates a lose / lose situation. Unfortunately (but realistically) for all of us, society will continue to come into contact with the environment more often as populations increase and natural areas shrink. Hence the need to ensure that the “social” side of the environment is considered.
    Hope you don’t mind a rude Australian sticking their beak in!

  15. This is one of the best discussion threads I have ever seen. Really. There is just no easy solution to this. I have to agree with the comments that crime is coming from run down apartments. But these people end up somewhere. What can you do about that? Sue the owners for running a “Nuisance Property”?

  16. I’m glad you brought up 8th Ave. NE, Lisa. It is a designated pedestrian corridor. If we all pull together we can get the amenities you want put on the schedule right now while they are doing the planning for density and the Sound Transit Station.

    BTW, a park neighbor says it looks like there has been yet more cutting in the park, and it looks to me like he may be right. The guy with the loppers hasn’t got the message yet . . .

    I went through and counted the cut trees on all the trails today. It is more like 65!

    I apologize for offending people by using the word “petty” to describe the crime wave. “Petty” is any crime not a felony, and evidently there have been felonies committed.

  17. @Lisa: Have there been any crimes committed against people in this park that are even the proximate responsibility of these tree branches? Or are you simply talking about people “feeling” unsafe.

    People “feel” unsafe all the time.

    Further, a number of people in this thread have been projecting all kinds of intentions about the so-called “scum” of whom you all seem to be terrified, TERRIFIED! Such as your utterly bizarre assertion that there are “people who don’t want to allow us access to our own neighborhood.” Who are these people? Are they operating roadblocks or something? Have you ever spoken with them? What on earth are you talking about!?

    You berate me for doing something that makes ME feel better, when the only reason anyone can provide for cutting these tree branches down is that the paucity of branches suddenly makes them FEEL safer.

    Funny you point out the lack of sidewalks. I’m willing that if you look at statistics, I’m sure there have been many more people in the neighborhood injured and killed by cars than by criminals emboldened by a dozen pine tree branches. Maybe the neighborhood vigilante should start taking his saw to everyones car tires and solve that problem too…

  18. @Chris – I’m guessing you are not a woman who has to walk across this bridge (or take the alternative route) after commuting home on the bus. So go ahead and be obnoxious and intimidating, if it makes you feel better. It does not appear to bother you in the least that the neighborhood women have been intimidated off the most direct route home after a long day of work and getting home in the dark. Taking the bus is the responsible choice, and it shouldn’t have to be capped off by unsafe alternatives at the end of the day – either we deal with people who don’t want to allow us access to our own neighborhood, or we go around and deal with the lack of sidewalks and street lighting on 8th – where you stand a good chance of getting hit by a car. Nice post.

  19. I’m going to make it a point to hang out on that bridge whenever I get the chance, dressed in “scum” clothing whilst making gestures.

    Perhaps I’ll even take it to the next level of felonious malfeasance and try out some silly walks, maybe even (egads!) on the sidewalk. The horror!

  20. I haven’t seen anyone hanging out on the bridge since the pruning. However, it’s been the holidays, so I think we’ll know more in the next few weeks. Overall, it does seem safer.

  21. @24 Linden:

    Well, you are correct:

    “Each neighborhood has it’s own catalysts for criminal activity.”

    I blame your improper use of the apostrophe for the criminal activity in your area of the neighborhood.

    After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to suffer the horrible trauma of “inappropriate gestures” or their path “being blocked.”

    Don’t get out much, do you? There’s a whole world out there, you know.

  22. All trolls aside,
    My experience with those types for trees, they look like cedars, they won’t be impacted by that kind of trimming. Actually, it will be nicer as it will create more open space under the trees.
    Does anyone have any “before” pictures, because to me, it looks like they did a pretty decent job of pruning.

    Something I would like to know; has crime dropped or are there fewer bums hanging out in these bushes since they’ve been cut down?

  23. Arrest the criminal(s) who cut the trees and let them spend as many years as the age of the irreversibly damaged trees are old. So if he harmed a 20 year tree, it will take 20 years to replace that tree and he should sit and ponder his crime for 20 years. Get tough on crime!

  24. This area has become increasingly unsafe, so much so that those of use who commute by bus can’t use the footbridge at night to come home, but instead have to go around on a dark street with no sidewalks. It started with the expansion of the food court at the Mall, then the addition of the library and community center, and finally all the new apartments. When people started restoration 20 years ago, it was an entirely different situation.

    I have talked to both the police and called city council, with absolutely no response.

    Is this supposed to be a park or not? A park should enhance a neighborhood, and have areas that the people living nearby can use. The city has torn down a couple of housese, but they don’t do anything to maintain it as a park and it’s becoming more and more of a nuisance. In fact, there have even been signs discouraging us from walking our dogs there! This is a park?

    I’m tired of being hassled by kids, tired of the graffiti, the drug use, and the illegal fireworks.

    Meanwhile, 200 yards away at the expensive Aljoya complex (which should have been the nature area) residents seem to be completely safe, in a well-lighted secure area. that I would suspect is also patrolled and would get immediate police response.

    There is absolutely no reason that area can’t be more open so that residents feel safe. And I have mentioned the safety issue to volunteers. I like the volunteers; we let them use our yard waste containers and it’s been a good relationship but to say that we haven’t communicated safety concerns to them is untrue.

  25. I find it horribly sad that someone would take these matters into their own hands, regardless of the rightness of cutting the branches. It was the coward’s way out.

    It is more difficult to become engaged in community activism than to hack away at trees. However, that more difficult road is the one we all must learn to walk if we want to live together in safe, beautiful neighborhoods. Take the seed of cooperation engendered in this thread and try to grow channels of communication that will actually help the residents, the trees, and the pot-smoking kids.

    Complaining about the failure of the SPD or the parks department without creating solutions with the people who work there isn’t helpful, it’s over-entitled whining.

    Do something about it. But when you do, don’t think you have all the right answers.

  26. I find it hard to believe that nobody gives a damn about the tortured souls who frequent the park. You dismiss them as “hoodlums” whose value is less than a tree branch. What’s next? Someone goes down to the bridge and exterminates them with a flame thrower?

  27. @Craig Thompson:

    I agree with many of your points and disagree with a few.

    Either way, thanks for taking the time to respond.

  28. Seems to me this back and forth argument about whether tree cover contributes to crime is easily settled. Plot the criminal activity in the city and look at crime density as a function of distance from parks. If there is higher crime closer to forested parks-bingo-you have your answer. Then just decide what to do about it if it exists.

  29. I have been an activist for many years but usually leave the “green stuff” to those with that passion. Here is what I did read, however,from an official Seattle document describing the area prior to involvement” Areas of unmanaged vegetation and neglected property boundaries provide cover for
    abandoned vehicles and a boat, illegal dumping, and occasional homeless encampments.
    The road edge is crumbling and road shoulders get flooded. There are drainage
    problems throughout the block. Cars park on the shoulders of the street leaving no
    space for pedestrians.” Hmmm, doesn’t exactly sound like a great situation before restoration attempts. This discussion dovetails exactly with the density that comes with an urban area. There will be more crime. There have been hundreds of new residents to Northgate in a relatively short time with hundreds more to come.

  30. “In fact, right now Seattle Parks is in the beginning phases of a $500K improvement project.”

    Seriously? And where the heck is that money going to come from? In case ya missed it:

    The person who mentioned the apartments near Target is on Target. It’s Seattle’s Cabrini Green. The kids from there are a constant nuisance particularly around the library and the creek. We were hoping to move before the reservoir park completion after seeing all the problems other parks are having. Froula Park is a nightmare.

  31. I believe this has been a generally productive discussion, though I don’t agree with all of it. I believe the care of BPNA should include, as much as possible, the surrounding neighbors and their concerns. Their concerns are as important as the trees, birds, animals, insects, fish, etc., of the area. The park stewards have attempted to involve the NA neighbors in the past on a number of occasions, including encouraging them to report any crimes and vandalism as well as toward the formation of a block-watch. I know that calls to the police do not always bring what one wants, but regular reporting is said to increase the likelihood of more police presence. I have seen police cars on the periphery of the park more in the past month or so, but I do not recall ever having seen police present on foot in the area. I have seen Seattle Parks & Recreation personnel and Seattle Public Utilities personnel on foot in the area.

    The neighborhood group seems to be a difficult group to engage perhaps because many of them are renters and may be working all day.

    I have been involved with Thornton Creek Alliance (TCA) for about 15 years. It was because of my TCA involvement that I have worked in Beaver Pond NA (formerly Park 6) as a volunteer over roughly those same years. I have put in many many hours of volunteer work there. I am currently the President of TCA, but these comments are my own. I recently moved just a block away from the NA. I have frequently seen people who appeared to be using drugs there, and have usually seen trash from drug and alcohol use. I and my wife often walk through the NA and pick up trash from these park users, and we have seen others cleaning up also. Natural areas tend to increase the value of lands near them, but they are most likely to discourage criminal behavior when they are well attended to. I would invite all the neighbors of the NA to come to the City sponsored public meeting on Jan 11 at 7 p.m. at the Northgate Community Center where there will be discussion about the proposed plans for the already funded development and enhancement of BPNA.

  32. The concrete graffiti wall is the problem, the looming trees allowed unfettered illegal activity to flourish. Up to and including a stabbing in October of 2009, a man was mortally wounded.

    That wall was built by variance when the City sold the land and the County authorized the variance. It is an attractive nuisance created solely by PMC (or their predecessors), the City and the County.

    Backfill the wall and the vandals will congregate elsewhere.

    The Naturalizing Northgate project should consider covering the wall with an environmentally sound retaining structure (like the material in the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel).

    No wall, no graffiti, fewer thugs, prostitutes, dope dealing, meth, heroin, crack, violence, drinking or overnight camping. The burglaries would be less frequent if these hoodlums had no gathering place.

    I have never seen a police officer in the park in 25 years living here near it.

    I have witnessed each of the above noted crimes, and have felt unsafe near that wall on more than one occasion, due to crowds of thuggish loiterers.

    The trees will survive. I hope the bootleg trimming job will help galvanize all concerned and result in getting that wall covered up.

    Use this event not to point fingers, but to unite and be heard.

    Join the meeting on January 11 about the Naturalizing Northgate project, I believe a strong showing supporting action focused on the wall will have an effect.

  33. Hi, MapleLeafBob! There are ways to make pathways open that are in accord with City of Seattle standards. Two months ago, Parks & Recreation and the Seattle Green Partnership hosted a 2-day trail maintenance workshop for forest stewards at Camp Long in West Seattle. If the City’s standards had been taken into account at the Beaver Pond Natural Area, there would likely have not been a problem.

    But now, there are problems.

    First, as the trees grow out, the now lower canopy of the trees will droop. They will not have the support of the branches beneath, so they will actually provide cover for illegal activity. (Some species will become particularly prone to this pattern; I won’t identify them here, as the person or persons who did the cutting might only target them for the worse.) If tree maintenance is done according to Seattle’s trail standards, this isn’t so much of an issue because not all the lower canopy would be removed. As the trees grow after this cutting, within five years they will provide more coverage for illegal activities than they did before or would have if maintained according to trail standards.

    Second, it’s not just that the neighbors have a better view of the ravine. People casing their houses now have a better view of places to break into. That line of sight goes both ways. Preparing a natural landscape according to CPTED principles – I’m not talking about the urban built environment, the subject of almost all CPTED discussion academically and in law enforcement circles – is similar in practice to the military exercise of clearing a field of fire. You want to be able to observe without being observed. Too, burglars now have an easier escape route. Whoever did this cutting just made it easier for break-ins to happen.

    Third, several of the cut trees, perhaps most of them, will now be more prone to diseases. As they die, the substructure of the roots will deteriorate, so causing greater erosion in the immediate area and threatening nearby private property. In the near term, this is already the case, as whoever cut the trees dumped the branches on top of forest floor species, so immediately affecting the surface and subsurface water flow as we enter the winter rainy season. In the longer term, the forested area may have its ability to stabilize the slopes in the area compromised, leading to slides. That will affect not only the geology of the area, but will affect property values of nearby homes. Property values adjacent to healthy greenbelts and natural areas tend to be higher than for property adjacent to degraded sites. Whoever cut these trees did more than damage public property; the private property values in the neighborhood may now be affected should the natural area and its geology not recover from this cutting.

    Also, note there are two Craigs posting here. You might argue that I don’t have skin in this game of your neighborhood, but I see what took place, and know from nine years of experience that another response would have made a difference without undoing the work of hundreds of volunteers, setting back a forestry project by years, damaging the ravine, and creating a worse public safety situation.

  34. This is a great opportunity for the “park” stewards to become more in touch with the surrounding neighborhood and ongoing safety and security issues.

    Seems there’s been a bit of a disconnect.

  35. First of all, I would like to say TCA had nothing to do with the press release. It was written by me as an individual and without board review. I have been the neighborhood forest steward for this park for over 15 years. Many of the volunteers in Beaver Pond NA are not TCA members, but together we have spent thousands of hours improving that park.

    Second, anyone who wants to do any kind of work in a park must register with Seattle Parks &/or Green Seattle Partnership and get the appropriate training. It is rare to see a registered steward cutting branches from native trees and shrubs, but it does sometimes happen. Anyone who would like to be involved in this park is free to register or you can contact me.

    I am upset by a couple of things.

    One is the quality of the cutting done. Leaving 2-3″ stumps at the site of each branch is not pruning, and it leaves the tree vulnerable to infestation. The conifers, all young, will not grow back, but most of them will survive, though their growth will be stunted. Limbs were left dumped on top of other plantings.

    Many of the people in the affected neighborhood know who we stewards are, but they never mentioned to us what was going on, while Parks and GSP actually rely on us to keep them informed. When I first began stewarding the park I canvassed the surrounding neighborhoods repeatedly and got very little response, so I gave up. I have canvassed it a couple of times since then for various park related reasons.

    Sure, sight lines add a sense of security, but they can be added with a good deal more sensitivity than this. Anyway, when I was in the park for an hour a few days after the cutting I was aware of three groups smoking pot, one of which was a large group on the bridge. Mowing down the whole park wouldn’t stop it.

    No place is crime proof. In my own neighborhood on the east side of Roosevelt we have a drug addict who has broken into several homes. Because of this one person we now watch each others’ houses, and many of us have installed security systems.

    The best hope for a solution is a combination of better communication, more education, better policing, and better crime prevention measures in the neighborhood.

  36. So I took a look at the area on my way back from the mall madness and really, it doesn’t look bad. I know the trees won’t regrow their branches but it looks like a nice natural area with a clear view of the bridge. I think that the TCA should take note that if an area they are caring for repeatedly draws criminal activity then they need to address that. The park is not just there for the wildlife but also for the citizens of Seattle. I can’t see how the pruning is any worse for the wildlife than the hoodlums that used to frequent the area.

  37. Part of those trees should be chop down or move to some proper place because the place were gathering many bad guys all the times for their intentional crime action throughout this community.

    Many criminal reports to the police recently over years are useless because we didn’t have heard any cheerful merits from any news disclosed.

    What if the police can enhance a patrol to those area ,and,or set up a hanging camera that would be better and effective to threaten the thefts.and a transparency areas as so call public area could be easy found what they are doing in the dark bushes.(often they are teenage and gathering 4~5 gangs hanging around with weapons )

    Besides, to make more electrical pole for enlarge lighting cover around the woods area could be better .But the city lite would be pay more expenses for the public area safety at night.

    In China, Taiwan, Hong Kong,and Japan,the most high criminal activities place usually set up criminal camera to protective people and assistant police easy accomplish their hard testing.

    In criminal legal conception, there is no any petty theft (theft is theft with a desire evil and action and it wouldn’t be classified level by legal point of view ) ,and don’t say any joke of a layman terms to the criminal laws.

    This natural pond ares is not useful to the public for we hardly see people like to walking around there for enjoy some ,and even in the summer time.on the contrary ,criminal guys like this.what if the authorities can rethink about this legal and environmental conflicts big and long lasting term issues.

  38. So, my question to the ‘tipper’ is…

    “petty crime” vs “Petty Crime”?

    There is a difference. One is a noun with an adjective, the other is a legal definition.

    Even most Petty Crime isn’t petty to those it effects, but, there are definitely non-Petty Crimes that have happened in that area. Although, after looking at the RCW, I don’t believe this state has a Petty Theft on the books.

    I have sympathy for what happened and don’t think it should have, but, at the same time, I have no sympathy for you because you decided to attack those who have had crimes committed against them by calling them petty. That’s low, crass and uncalled for.

  39. @Madskillz – yes I have read the comments. But attending a council meeting and presenting your case in the public record is far different, and far more effective IMHO, than calling parks or police to complain.

    After being frustrated with no response from police or parks, the logical next step would have been taking time before the council – which the homeowners may need to do anyway in the future if the rift continues.

    I gotta go. You all have a great day. Good discussing this even if we don’t agree!

  40. @Madskillz – I wonder if they would even write you a ticket if you did? 🙂

    However, in this case, the person knew what they were doing and probably would get a a fine.

    Why didn’t they just go to the city council and ask for the park trees to be trimmed? At least then the issue could have been dealt with openly and honestly.

  41. I accidentally ran a red light last week but no cop caught me. I’m going to go turn myself in. I don’t want a mirror screaming at me. That’s so….Brothers Grimm.

  42. @ JustaEsq – anybody who bothers to check how you twist what I write will easily recognize who should be ignored, U.

    Hopefully the guilty party will stand up and pay the price. They need to take the defense of their actions to the judge/court for all to hear. Otherwise, every morning the mirror will scream back at them – liar! criminal! dishonest person! You can’t hide from your own integrity or restore it by pointing to other criminals.

  43. To the Gardening Criminal,

    This un-permitted tree-pruning is an outrage! You should be ashamed of yourself! And how dare you fail to put the incriminating evidence in your yard waste bin! We are not supposed to take matters into our own hands like this, sir or madam, we are supposed to bend over and let the grown-up hall-monitors do with us as they will. If you have any self-respect, you will immediately turn yourself in to face the consequences. Follow my example, I am preparing a report on my illegal gutter repair and also a recent shameful crime-spree weekend, when I parked only 28 feet away from a stop sign, and then JAYWALKED! I’m going to demand that I be fined accordingly, because if we don’t take responsibility for our actions, then we’re no better than the terrorists. I’m pretty sure I also failed to report some income from my last yard sale, mea culpa, may I please have Martha Stewart’s old cell?

    Meanwhile, in other news, Grandma got capsaicined by a jackboot, coming home from our house Christmas Eve, you can say there’s no such thing as justice, but all you have to do is simply move to a better neighborhood where all the houses are at least seven figures, then the hall-monitors will actually give a rat’s tail about your little “burglary” concerns.

  44. @Craig Thompson:

    Please provide an explanation for your comment:

    “I see both sides of this issue, yet I believe the damage done to this natural area will actually increase the likelihood of crime in the nearby neighborhood”

    I personally have no idea how you think making a park path more open and visible will actually increase crime in the neighborhood. Unless you mean the same crimes will spread out beyond the areas around the park where they have been concentrated up to this point.

  45. hahaha, Madskillz, thanks for lightening the mood. 🙂

    I, along with my neighbors whose homes have been burglarized, am much more concerned with finding the teens who broke into my house than I am with finding the person who cut the tree branches. I certainly hope the Seattle police are in agreement with me on this one.

  46. @Michell /ignore.

    I’m insinuating Craig is a troll. He’s blaming the crime on environmentalists now.

    Best way to deal with Craig is to completely ignore him from here on out.

  47. @Craig, I’m the one that used the word insinuated, and I’m definitely not a lawyer.

    Here is what I sincerely want to know. Who decides what is lawful to cut in the path and what is untouchable? I see people who are presumably TCA representatives down there cutting branches and clearing stuff all the time. Who makes the decision that they can do that? I’m asking in all sincerity, not offensively. But I would like to know why they can cut away and the person who cut the branches of the trees is a criminal?

    I close by inviting those of you who are not neighbors to come down to 104th street and see the “vandalism”. I think you will find it difficult to pick out.

  48. Just to be clear about where I stand with you all who don’t like what I’m saying – I get just as upset when environmentalists commit crimes without taking responsibility. It isn’t just with this crime.

  49. Hi, Maple Leaf! I’ve been the lead on a 9-year-long environmental restoration project on the west side of Beacon Hill in “the Jungle” – as it is popularly known. It has involved many state, city, and non-profit agencies, and emphasizes CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) strategies and practices.

    I see both sides of this issue, yet I believe the damage done to this natural area will actually increase the likelihood of crime in the nearby neighborhood. There are ways to address forest restoration while increasing public safety without doing damage to both.

  50. I have no respect for people who commit crimes, but I guess out of all the CRIMES being discussed in this thread, the trees being cut is the only petty one mentioned. They will grow back and wow, the neighbors feel safer.

  51. @ JustaEsq – insinuated? Such a lawyer word. I stated that even al Queda takes responsibility for their crimes.

    I have more respect for a confessed felon cause he/she took responsibility for their actions.

    Get your accusation right.

  52. @ Michelle – Linden said he does not know. I took him at his word and didn’t direct my comments to him. But somebody knows and isn’t coming forward. That’s pathetic.

  53. @Michelle – Craig is a troll.

    He’s either in the middle of a World of Warcraft intermission or watching his constant loop of Wonder Years reruns. Which pains me because I love that show.

    He just insinuated he has more respect for al-Queda than the neighbors who are happy who did this. I mean c’mon.

  54. Pathetic. An entire block of cowards. What happened to this country? Those responsible didn’t even clean up the mess. I have more respect for a confessed felon that the chicken-hearted shadow creepers who did this.

    Will the responsible party have the courage to really defend their actions? Even al Queda takes credit for their crimes. Pathetic, simply pathetic.

  55. Chris,

    I don’t suspect you’ll ever be shot for knowing too much.

    Please provide us with examples in this comment thread where anyone, other than you, have claimed these trees were “solely responsible” for committing these crimes.

    In fact, I sincerely doubt you even know what solely means. Let me help you.

    – sole-ly (n): not involving anyone or anything else. –

    Ok now that we have basic understanding of the vocabulary you’ve attempted, care to give it another shot?

  56. @Linden – are you responsible or do you know who is responsible for these actions? Do you have any information? Have you shared it with authorities if you do? You seem pretty set on defending these actions – which includes standing up and sharing what you know if you do.

  57. No one is blaming the trees for committing crimes; obviously it is the criminals who are responsible. However, what people are saying (those of us who live near the park and frequent it regularly) is that the trees created an opaque environment which fostered criminal activity. I have walked through the park nearly every day for the past year and before the trees were cut there were nearly always underage kids drinking or using/dealing drugs on the pedestrian bridge. Contrary to what Ruth would have you believe, I have reported this activity and placed that area on a drug crime watch list. However, I have seen little in the way of increased police presence. Since the trees were cut I have not seen these individuals once.

    The lack of visibility in that area was also an issue for property crimes. My wife witnessed an attempted break-in two weeks ago and the perpetrators fled into that area. When my house was burglarized the individuals utilized that area.

    While we obviously can’t clearcut the park, cutting the branches has noticeably reduced the sense that the park was den of lawlessness, something I’m not going to complain about.

    In short, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

    – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

  58. @Chris – What’s that? You *don’t* live on this block? Then clearly you *don’t* know what’s been plaguing me and my neighbors.

    I’ve been personally burglarized TWICE in the past 6 months and both times the thieves utilized this park. I routinely have been subjected to inappropriate comments and gestures by the scum that would linger on a well hidden pedestrian bridge using illegal substances. I’ve also had my path blocked by these individuals on multiple occasions.

    Now that the tree branches have been cleared so that path is visible from both entrances to the park, this is not commonplace. I (and apparently my neighbors as well) feel safer and more comfortable with the change. Good enough explanation for you?

    Each neighborhood has it’s own catalysts for criminal activity. Nobody is saying that tree branches blocking pathways is a problem in all neighborhoods – that’s your ignorance – to this particular area and it’s problems – playing its part.

  59. So, maybe one of you geniuses can explain to me how these particular low-hanging tree branches are responsible for committing property crimes…?

    Of all the things I’ve heard people blame for criminal activity, the presence of evergreen tree branches is a whole new level of stupid.

    I don’t live anywhere near this park, and yet I have suffered property crimes and break-ins. I was unaware that these distant tree branches 20 blocks away are solely responsible for spawning that criminal activity. Clearly downtown Seattle, with its utter paucity of low-hanging tree branches, must be a 100% crime-free area…

  60. What I find most interesting about these types of actions is the pathetic cowardice of those who commit them. Hate to sound old, but in my day we stood up and took responsibility for our actions – and the associated consequences. If you all really feel that strong about what you did for public safety then stand up and take credit for it. America, the land of the free and the cowards.

  61. I used to live in Maple leaf, before this park was restored. Maple leaf is crime ridden, it always has been and always will be. Want to get rid of the crime? Just look at the apartments behind Target and the apartments on Roosevelt & Northgate Way behind the Walgreens.

  62. I don’t know if it’s fair to characterize the police as non-responsive during the last few months. They were quite busy manhandling hippy college girls and pepper-spraying Grandma.

  63. As one of those who’s been subject to the “unreported” “petty” thefts Ruth Williams goes on about (I don’t think the multi-thousands stolen from my house is petty, and yes, the neighbors can confirm that I did call the police), I really find her talk ill-informed and spoken like some fly-in environmentalist who doesn’t communicate with people on the ground.

    Look, I like having the trees and the beaver pond back there. I would like to have something close to what used to be here before the houses and mall came in post-war. But this forested area is natural cover for the criminal element in this area.

    TCA needs to actually SPEAK to those of us who actually LIVE next to No. 6/Beaver Pond. I think I’ve seen one flyer from them, once, in the couple years I’ve lived here. They’ve never asked me for help, much less asked me about my concerns or what I think.

    I want the restoration to work, but I would rather have ACTUAL neighbors involved in the decision-making, not some committee that doesn’t want the neighbors intruding on their precious project.

  64. I think it is debatable how much we’ve been “wronged” and it is clear that this issue is being driven more by emotion than facts. What is lacking is this discussion is the stated goals of the restoration, their value in both ecological and social terms, and how this “vandalism” impacts them.

    As a wildlife biologist I can say that the cutting of the lower branches of these trees will have little ecological impact on any scale that matters. This section of the park is at the end of the habitat corridor, it is very narrow providing little cover, and it has a high level of human activity. Prior to the work of the mystery gardener this section of park provided habitat that was only useful to highly tolerant critters and transients and these species will not be affected by the pruning of these trees (while I‘m talking about wildlife, this also applies to human transients as well. There is still plenty of habitat for them too.) The reality is that the critical components that comprise the ecological value of this park (the physical, chemical, and biological functions the park provides) have not and will not change because of this.

    Of course ecological value also includes a social component but it is quite clear from the discussion here and elsewhere about this issue that it is much more difficult to assess the impact of this “vandalism” in terms of the social cost. As a resident living on 104th who plays with my kids in this park and walks thru it daily on my commute, I very much appreciate the work of the volunteers who have been restoring the park but I’ve also dealt with the drinking, fights, graffiti (on our cars and mailboxes), garbage and the occasional needle with increasing frequency. To me, and the quiet majority of the people who use this park, the opening up of the understory around the bridge and retaining wall actually increases the value of this park. Ruth and many of the members of the Thorton Creek Alliance see this act as devaluating the park and in some respects it does. But they also cannot, ahem, see the forest for the trees. They treat this park as their personal garden when in fact it is a public space used by hundreds of people a week who (according to my informal polling and the discussion here) don’t see this as vandalism but appreciate the increased visibility an openness of the bridge and path that they regularly walk.

    The hyperbole in the “news tip” is laughable and the fact that Ruth is spreading this misinformation an embarrassment to the TCA that will only undermine the alliance’s relationship with the neighborhood.

  65. M H C.

    Well first, you’d have to contact the city numerous times.

    Then you’d have to have a lawyer write some kind of threatening letter, which isn’t free unfortunately.

    Then Nancy and Co. would have to hold about 13 environmental impact meetings on the potential environmental and ecological ramifications of pruning the trees. Which undoubtedly would be denied.

    Resistance would be met by people who don’t live in the neighborhood. Which makes complete sense.

    Or something like that.

    But what do I know? I actually think there’s some connection between places to hide, surrounded by low rent apartment complexes admist the tucked away and secluded middle to upper class homes, with nice things in them – and burglaries.

  66. I used to walk through there regularly, but I’ve had enough encounters with the kids in there, that I’ve made it a point to walk all the way around the block because I’m tired of the way i feel and am treated while trying to get by. I won’t take my kids through there anymore, which is a shame since we live within a block of the park. What’s the point of having a wildlife park if you’re scared to bring your kids into the “wildlife” because of the folk that hang out there. I know my neighbors feel the same and purposely take the longer route around the park for the same reasons.

    I’m happy to hear about the trimming. Although I agree, they should have moved the trimmed branches off the underbrush. What would it have taken to have this done legally?

  67. I love nature, but stop acting like this is freaking the “Tree of Souls” from Avatar. How about planting trees in areas that don’t compromise the safety of an entire neighborhood?
    I agree with commenter “Linden,” yes, the trees were cut and the person who did it was not authorized to do so, but at the same time if the people we pay taxes to aren’t going to help out at all, the people sometimes have to do what they have to do. The trees will grow back and in the meantime, neighbors have more visibility in an area that otherwise would have continued to assist criminals out to terrorize the area.

  68. Reading this report is the first I’ve heard of this tree-trimming, but I am not sad to hear about it at all. Having walked through that section of park a number of times, I was always surprised at the level of visual isolation in there, and have more than once come around a corner to be surprised by the presence of other people.

    Not that I was necessarily scared, but definitely surprised, and other circumstances could easily be imagined to result in “scared”.

    While I appreciate the volunteers who have turned that area from a junkpile into a parkland, perhaps they could incorporate a concern for personal/property safety into their activities and trim trees in a way that allows for both aesthetic purity and the concerns of the neighbors about creating hiding places?

  69. SPD’s North Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator, Terrie Johnston, meets with individuals and groups of neighbors about safety concerns, helps organize block watches, does free home security audits, and dispenses personal safety tips. She is very helpful. You can contact her at

  70. Here’s an opportunity to tell them about your safety concerns:

    Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to participate in the planning meeting for the community initiated restoration project for Beaver Pond Natural Area on Thornton Creek on Wednesday, January 11, 2012 from 7 – 9 p.m. at Northgate Community Center. Northgate Community Center is located at 10510 5th Ave NE. A second meeting that will incorporate feedback from this initial meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.

    At the first meeting for this Opportunity Fund project, Seattle Parks and The Watershed Company will present background studies and site analysis, and gather community feedback for the conceptual plan. In March, we will present the conceptual plan for the renovation of Beaver Pond Natural Area on Thornton Creek and gather final community input.

    This project modifies the existing park, refines and completes channel work in portions of the park by relocating two portions of Thornton Creek, removes invasive plants and restores native habitat.

  71. I don’t think anybody is debating that this is technically a crime, but it is only fair to recognize that it was brought on by the criminal activity and unsafe area being left untreated. And if we’re going to spend resources investigating and tracking down “criminals,” I’d prefer they find the burglars plaguing our neighborhood and prosecute them first.

    What this person did was create a more visible pathway and an effort to increase safety when walking through the path and decrease the likelihood of criminal activities happening in the area. Having that area be visible will (and already has) have a direct impact on that.

    Perhaps this all wouldn’t have been an issue or necessary if the police offered more support or surveillance of our neighborhood and the parks department actually responded to neighbors when they raise serious concerns.

    The block immediately adjacent to the park (in only the past 6 months) has been victim to 4 residential burglaries. If you read the police reports or speak with the neighbors, you will find that this park has been used in all cases as an entry and/or exit for these crimes (in addition to the many other, and reported, crimes they commit).

    While I honestly wish there had been any kind of response to this problem that would have pleased everybody, I can say that I am happy these criminals can no longer use that area as a hiding spot.

  72. I agree with Linden. These crimes were not petty. Our house was broken into and I came home to find two thieves in my house. One had a knife. I called the police and filed a report. I respect that we need natural areas in our urban environment, but please respect our neighborhood’s safety first.

  73. I see the neighborhood crime and this crime as two separate issues, and this is coming from someone who’s had their house broken into and robbed in Maple Leaf about two years ago. I understand from personal experience the outrage and violation one feels when their door has been smashed in, house rifled through, and belongings stolen. And the police offer little help after the crime.

    It’s sad to see however how someone could think committing an additional crime, directed at our public park, could somehow help the situation. I know that need to strike out in revenge, but it should be directed at the criminals, not the trees and plants in our public parks. I don’t trust this vandal’s judgement nor see any proven cause and effect between the bushes and trees and the crime. Thanks for ruining our public land, wasting taxpayer money, and destroying the hard work from around the community on this land jerky neighbor. I hope the vandal is prosecuted for the destruction and helps pay for the restoration, that would be fair for our community, which he has clearly wronged.

  74. Thank you, Nearby, for the extremely helpful suggestion. Call the police.

    Now can you please give us the secret number to the so called “responsive” police?

    We’re tired of dealing with the normal police.

  75. Um. Let’s not forget that whoever cut the trees has committed a CRIME. You cannot vandalize trees on public property.

    I’ve found the police to very responsive when called. If you suspect a crime is being commited (yes, including screams and breaking bottles in the park), why not call them?

  76. I’m going to assume the quoted text did not come from a resident who has been burglarized twice over the last several months.

    I’m also going to go out on a limb (see what I did there?) and guess that the author of the quoted text doesn’t have to put up with the only people who seem to be attracted to this “sanctuary” : misfits and criminals.

    To answer the burning question: Yes. Yes – “[T]hey” have reported these crimes to the police.

    Doesn’t make the neighborhood much safer? That’s quite the leap by someone who couldn’t even figure out whether residents had reported these crimes to a police. Albeit, I do recognize that tidbit of information will require only the highest of investigational skills.

    As it stands now the young adults are now clearly visible from 104th street, whereas before they could only be heard (cuss words, bottles breaking, screams of “look out the cops are coming”).

    Also, petty crimes? Crimes that have amounted to a felony have been committed, I wouldn’t call that petty. How about the author has his home ransacked then comes and tells us “no big deal, that was petty”.

    While I appreciate the volunteers and students’ efforts, don’t over dramatize this event by claiming 10 years of hard work is destroyed.

    How about some of those volunteers and students take time out of their day and do some security patrols?

    Being intimately familiar with the condition of this area before and after the pruining I believe this is over-dramatization at its finest.

    Kudos phantom pruner for making our neighborhood safer!

  77. 1: These crimes have been repeatedly reported to police.
    2: The crimes are not all petty – many are home burglaries that stem from that wooded area.
    3: The pathways were not kept clear and there were consistently blind corners. It was not safe and the bridge in that area became a haven for teenage drug/criminal activity.

    When I saw the trees trimmed, I assumed the parks department had done it. My calls to the parks department for other concerns in that park have been routinely ignored and we weren’t able to garnish a response until we involved a lawyer.

    I realize that the parks department sees this at a loss, however this was a public safety issue that was being ignored by the city. While I’m sorry it had to come to somebody possibly hurting the wildlife in that area, I can say that I am far more comfortable walking through the trail area and the criminal activity that was previously taking place there has already significantly dropped.

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