Photo by Jessica Keller: Members of The Last 6,000, an organization that aims to document and save Seattle trees, protest the proposed removal of 25 trees and undergrowth on the hillside below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia Friday afternoon.
Photo by Jessica Keller: Members of The Last 6,000, an organization that aims to document and save Seattle trees, protest the proposed removal of 25 trees and undergrowth on the hillside below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint in Magnolia Friday afternoon.

Concerned environmentalists gathered at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint Friday in Magnolia to protest a recent city decision to permit trees and undergrowth to be torn down on the hillside just below the park to make room for development.

Members of The Last 6,000, a group of activists concerned with saving Seattle’s trees, posted information boards and carried signs protesting plans to remove trees at the site in favor of development.

According to city documents, developers intend to build two houses, which are said to be mansions, a swimming pool and room for 12 vehicles, on the property below the park and above the Admiral’s House near Pier 91 and the Elliot Bay Marina.

To allow for the construction, 25 trees, some of them designated “exceptional,” with diameters of at least 30 inches, are set to be removed from the land in question below Ursula Judkins Viewpoint, which has Magnolia residents and environmental activists concerned for a number of reasons.

The Last 6,000, an organization that seeks to document and protect the city’s remaining “majestic” trees in Seattle, organized Friday’s protest at the viewpoint.

Jim Davis, one of The Last 6,000 coordinators, said Friday’s demonstration was to inform people about the impending tree removal and to encourage people to get involved by contacting city leaders. He said the idea of the movement is not to be “anti development.” Instead, members want responsible development.

“The bottom line is we can have housing and trees,” Davis said.

During the demonstration, activists shared their concerns for the hillside and the environment if the trees were removed. One concern is the tree removal, situated in a landslide zone, will contribute to hillside instability and erosion runoff into the water below.

While 25 trees, including three designated exceptional, will be removed, that will result in birds and wildlife being affected.

Barbara Bernard said she was attending Friday’s demonstration because was concerned about the birds that will be affected by the loss of habitat, including bald eagles that live on the hillside.

“We are eliminating their  habitat, and there’s a tragedy in that,” she said.

Other people spoke about how this decision continues the city’s trajectory of removing even more of the city’s urban forest in favor of development.

Diana Gardiner, a demonstration coordinator and member of The Last 6,000, said the trees set to be removed, as outlined by an arborist hired by the developer, include three red alders identified as reaching the end of their lives, an assertion Gardiner questioned.

“We don’t know how long trees last,” Gardiner said. “They last a lot longer when we don’t tear them down.”

Other trees include an “exceptional” big leaf maple that will be removed for the driveway; a plum, hawthorn and Sweet Bay magnolia, situated where the houses will go; two exceptional and one smaller big leaf maple that will be cleared for a retaining wall; a Katsura, plum, two weeping willows and another big leaf maple that were identified as being in poor health or posing a safety hazard; and four hawthorns that are considered invasive.

David Moehring, a Magnolia Community Council member and chair of the Land Use Review Committee, said unless somebody appeals the SDCI decision by Thursday, the trees could be removed soon.

To provide sight barriers for the residences from the park above, the developer intends to plant Pacific serviceberries above the houses. Those grow to about 20 to 30 feet, Moehring said, and could eventually block people’s views of the city at Ursula Judkins Viewpoint, which would be disappointing.

“So, if those are planted here, the first couple of years, it’ll be fine, but after that, the view will be gone,” Moehring said.

For more information about The Last 6,000, go to thelast6000.org. To learn more about the development, visit https://cosaccela.seattle.gov/portal/welcome.aspx, and enter the project number 3028072-LU.