Overview of the North Slope Restoration Project (NSRP)

Mission Statement

The North Slope Restoration Project (NSRP) is a volunteer project to restore a viable and sustainable native forest on approximately 13 acres in the heart of Discovery Park. This is the core NSRP as maintained for 18 years by Tom Palm and Phil Vogelzang. The North Slope continues downhill from this site and encompasses other restoration projects being done by other volunteers.

Jump right into the NSRP Regions and Sub-Regions

NSRP Regions


The core North Slope Restoration Project (NSRP) began as the individual efforts of two restoration volunteers working independently in nearby areas as part of the Discovery Park Adopt-An-Area program. The two volunteers (Tom Palm and Phil Vogelzang) both began working on their own in the area in 1997 and 1998. They met in 2000 and gradually have been coordinating their efforts more closely until 2005, when they decided to merge the two areas (#9 and #24/#31) into one large project under the name of NSRP.

The aerial photos at the bottom of this page show how the contiguous Areas 9, 24 and 31 have evolved just from 1936 to 2002. Phil Vogelzang worked mainly on Area 9 from 2000 to 2008 (due North of the Historic houses and the site of the old Hospital). Tom Palm has been working on Area 24 and 31 since 1997 (due North of Area 9 and running the length of Utah Avenue from Five Corners to the Historic Bus Stop). Phil and Tom have also shared much work in each others areas and joined in with many work parties for adopted areas all over Discovery Park. Tom Palm now also manages the old Area 9 as a GSP Forest Steward.

The lower part of the North Slope contains a stretch of Kansas Avenue which is the focus of two years of intensive work by the BOC Academy (Bi-Lingual Orientation Center, now the International School) and many other schools, groups and individuals aimed at removing all invasive and non-native plants so a full native plant restoration can begin.

Just to the east of Montana Circle and at the top of the old Idaho Avenue is the Theater Site, so called for the major base theater which stood in this area during WWII. It has been worked on since 2002 by David Hutchinson and Moss Stone and also received a major restoration treatment in 2009 by the Parks Department.

Finally, the half the length of roadbed of Idaho Avenue from the Theater Site down to the North Parking Lot was removed and re-planted by Parks in 2008-2009. The remaining pavement was removed and planted in 2014.

The Area 9 part of the NSRP was the site of the original hospital building constructed in 1899 and completed in 1900. It saw a building boom in the WWII and Korean War years, culminating in near complete coverage with buildings, parking lots and roadways in the early 60's. The last building to remain standing - the original hospital - was demolished in the 1980's.

From 1980 through the late 90's, little to no effective restoration work was done on the site. By the time serious efforts were begun, extensive Scots Broom (SB) and Himalayan Blackberry (BB) infestations had occurred. A major infrastructure removal occurred in the spring of 2001 in which a large concrete and asphalt roadway was removed by the Seattle Parks Department. This pavement removal included 50% of the asphalt parking lot behind the old Fort HQ building (historic building #417) and the entire hospital access road (Wisconsin). The far eastern end of the access road ran through a dense mixed conifer forest before exiting onto Washington Avenue. That portion of the road was permanently closed to pedestrian traffic during 2002 and 2003 and is now regenerating forest. The western portion of the road now serves as an access trail for delivery of plants, wood chip and large woody debris for restoration process. On either side of this pathway are extensive plantings meant to develop over time into a mixed forest ecology and enhancing the experience of those pedestrians passing through.

The restoration process itself consists of two broad categories. Invasive removal was the primary job at the outset of the project. Several very large BB patches were either mowed or hand cut. Rootballs were dug out. Large swaths of SB were pulled or cut. This type of invasive removal initially demanded 80-90% of volunteer time. Extensive removal was needed just to allow getting around on the site. Some areas where virtually impassable and/or frequent sites of homeless encampments.

The secondary task - native plantings - began in a fairly meager and limited way with establishment of a few small conifers. These were initially put in around 2000. Since that time, native plantings have steadily increased in number and diversity with understory and ground cover natives increasingly part of the palette.

Although the North Slope is considered "in restoration", it is clear that it will take many more years of hard work before our "500 year goal" of an old growth forest is realized. The ability of a healthy, vigorous native forest to resist the invasive weed onslaught present in an urban environment is unknown. But it is our hope that establishment of a diverse and robust native forest on the North Slope will be an enduring legacy and contribution to the overall health of the flora and fauna that call Discovery Park home. We hope this website will inspire and encourage other similar restoration sites throughout Seattle and the greater Pacific NW. We invite any interested parties to contact us. We will gladly share our lessons, ideas, sources and encouragement.

The Green Seattle Partnership

As described in the "About" page for this site, the Green Seattle Partnership has enrolled a large number of restoration sites in Seattle parks into its system and many volunteer Forest Stewards are actively working on these sites. Since the Discovery Park Adopt-An-Area program pre-dated the GSP by almost ten years, the current AAA stewards are considered unofficial GSP Forest Stewards until they go through the formal training and orientation process given yearly. Tom Palm is the lead GSP Forest Steward for Discovery Park and coordinates between AAA volunteers, Grounds Maintenance and GSP.

As part of a mapping effort by EarthCorps Science Unit and GSP, an interactive restoration map was created and has now been replaced by a Google Earth file, maintained by Forterra, that can be reached via the above link to GSP. This map shows every park in Seattle where any GSP sites are enrolled. This includes Discovery Park, where over 100 restoration sites have been identified, not all currently enrolled in GSP. To be enrolled means that GSP commits to the long-term maintenance and monitoring of the site to see that it is sustainably restored.

As part of this mapping process, all GSP sites in Discovery Park have been carefully measured and the outlines on the map reflect the current boundaries. The numbers used on the map reflect the Zones assigned in the Discovery Park Vegetation Management Plan of 2000. The new site IDs assigned to elements of the NSRP as part of this mapping effort are shown below.

A map showing just the GSP sites in Discovery Park is available at DP GSP Sites and the current assignment of AAA volunteers and other organizations to these sites is available at DP GSP Volunteers

We have also broken up each of the old areas 9, 24 and 31 into many smaller sites and have tracked restoration work, planting and watering down to this level over the years. A guide to all of these work sites is at: NSRP Regions

Finally, there is a zoomable Google Maps view from July 1, 2010 showing the location of all of these smaller work sites available at: NSRP Map

Please take a look the images and links below to see the visual history of the site and the changes we have accomplished in a few short years.

Historical photographs of the North Slope during the Fort Lawton days

Where are some of the VRPs taking place in the North Slope area?

What is happening in each of the project areas ?

NSRP Regions