News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


City warns of contamination in Thornton Creek

June 14th, 2013 by Mike

Great Blue Heron  (the official City of Seattle bird) fishing this week at Thornton Creek’s Beaver Pond Natural Area.

Thornton Creek, which flows through north Maple Leaf on its way to Lake Washington and includes the home of our very own beavers, has dangerous levels of human fecal bacteria, Seattle Public Utilities has announced.

A two-year investigation by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has confirmed human fecal bacteria are likely entering North Seattle’s Thornton Creek at multiple locations.

Funded by the Washington Department of Ecology and led by SPU stormwater scientist Jonathan Frodge, the study was based on samples collected at 45 sites throughout the watershed, under a variety of conditions

It has been known for years that fecal coliform bacteria concentrations in Thornton Creek exceed the state water quality standard and pose a potential threat to public health. The new study confirms human bacteria are present and contribute to the water quality problem. The study is also the first to identify sub-basins (general areas) where bacteria appear to be entering the stream.

Our news partner The Seattle Times has a lengthy story here, including a plea for help determining where sewage is entering the creek.

Frodge says the public is being asked to help out with the smell test.

“If you’re out there walking, your nose is as trained as anyone’s,” he says.

Sewer smell is sewer smell.

Frodge says people can email him at

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Damage at Maple Leaf beaver pond – beavers at risk?

February 10th, 2012 by Mike

Maple Leaf’s Beaver Pond Natural Area has been in the news lately, but not because of the beavers.

We got 94 comments on our initial post about nearly 50 trees being vandalized in December.

Then the Seattle parks department and City Light posted notices that a number of trees in the beaver pond proper, at 8th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 105th Street, had been substantially damaged by the beavers and were “dying or standing dead.

“This created a situation of imminent danger and hazard to the public and a high probability of severe damages to nearby electrical infrastructure and private property from tree failure.”

Then came January’s snow and ice storm.

This week trucks and crews from City Light were at the pond. “We worked with parks and personnel from ecology and took down a number of trees girdled by the beavers,” said the utility’s Scott Thomsen.

Thomsen said a particular problem is very high-voltage transmission lines that carry 230 kilovolts from electrical substations. Those lines are on the pond’s western border, and were in reach of damaged trees. Update: Thomsen emails: “We have transmission and distribution lines in that area. The transmission line is 115 kilovolts. The distribution lines are 26 kilovolts.”

Many of the felled trees will be left in place to provide habitat, and the park department plans to plant replacement trees. “It is our goal to protect the wetland and leave as many snags and large woody debris in the wetland habitat as is feasible,” according to the posted notice.

Now the beavers might be in trouble. [

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Help plan future for Beaver Pond Natural Area

January 9th, 2012 by master

After the unprecedented number of comments from our readers (90 as of Monday  morning), it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of interest in the future of Beaver Pond Natural Area, which is located at the north end of Maple Leaf and just east of Northgate Mall.

Want to help guide the future for the park? You’re invited to add your 2 cents at a planning meeting for the park’s restoration project from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Northgate Community Center, 10510 Fifth Avenue N.E. Even if you aren’t ready to state your opinion, the meeting will offer a good opportunity for you to learn more about the plan with presentations on background studies and site analysis from Seattle Parks and Recreation and The Watershed Company. From the meeting announcement:

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. 

Beaver Pond Natural Area on Thornton Creek consists of several contiguous parcels located near the Northgate Community Center and continues northeasterly into the Maple Leaf neighborhood. It is bordered by NE 103rd and NE 107th streets to the south and north, by 5th Avenue NE to the west, and by Roosevelt Way NE to the east. The park includes the South Branch of Thornton Creek, wooded areas, wetlands, and several trails. Visitors will see a wide variety of wildlife including an active beaver pond. There are several major access points located at the south end of the park, on NE 105th Street, and at the corner of NE 106th Street and 9th Avenue NE

This project is one of 15 projects to receive funding through the first round of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund. The Opportunity Fund provides $15 million in funding for community initiated park development or property acquisition projects. To view other projects that received funding please visit

A second meeting that will incorporate feedback from this initial meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14.

For more information, visit the project website or contact Emily Lofstedt, parks planner, at 206-684-7047 or

UPDATE: Because of the recent illegal tree-trimming that took place at the park, believed by some to help decrease area crime, Seattle Parks has added to the agenda plans to address safety concerns in the Natural Area.

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47 trees vandalized in Beaver Pond Natural Area

December 29th, 2011 by master

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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New names for Thornton Creek parks

June 9th, 2011 by Mike

Mayor Mike McGinn and a beaver dam, in the renamed park.

So long, Thornton Creek Park No. 6. Hello, Beaver Pond Natural Area!

The city on Thursday renamed a number of parks, including several on Thornton Creek.

The one with the beaver dam got the obvious name. Here’s the local list:

Kingfisher Natural Area on Thornton Creek is a large assemblage of properties that follows the South Branch of Thornton Creek southeasterly from approximately 15th Ave. NE and NE 105th St. to NE 98th St. west of 20th Ave. NE. There are formal access points at NE 102nd St. and 17th Ave. NE and at NE 104th St. and 17th Ave. NE, as well as two areas along NE 100th St. The park features viewpoints, wetlands, and an abundant wildlife habitat. Kingfishers used to be spotted nesting in this area and are now passing through. This name helps to highlight the importance that preserving and protecting these areas has on wildlife habitat.

Beaver Pond Natural Area on Thornton Creek consists of several contiguous parcels located near the Northgate Community Center and continues northeasterly into the Maple Leaf neighborhood. It is bordered by NE 103rd St. and NE 107th St. to the south and north and by 5th Ave. NE to the west and Roosevelt Way NE to the east. The park includes the South Branch of Thornton Creek, wooded areas, wetlands, and several trails. Visitors will see a wide variety of wildlife including an active beaver pond. There are several major access points located at the south end of the park, on NE 105th St. and at the corner of NE 106th St. and 9th Ave. NE. The  Beaver Pond is a unique feature that brings many visitors to this site. The beavers have completely changed the configuration and vegetation of the site in a way that will be there for years to come. This is a very distinct and unique feature for this part of Thornton Creek.

LaVilla Meadows Natural Area on Thornton Creek is just east of Lake City Way between Fischer Pl. NE and Ravenna Ave. NE, north of NE 100th St. to approximately NE 103rd St. Access to the park is from Fischer Pl. NE, at the north side of the Shutter Shop parking lot, along the fence. This site was once a dairy operated by the Blindheim family and is now a natural area that includes the confluence of Willow Creek and the South Branch of Thornton Creek. There has been a focus on restoration and stewardship of the creek and the native vegetation in this area. This name reflects the history of the site and is a familiar reference for those who live and work near and visit this neighborhood jewel.

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