A Place Apart, by Tom Griffin & Jon Marmor


Union Bay Natural Area. Click to enlarge.

Photo by Kathy Sauber. Click photo to enlarge.
Once part of the city's old Montlake garbage dump, the Union Bay Natural Area is now an oasis, one I try to escape to as often as I can. Hugging the shore of Lake Washington just northeast of Husky Stadium, and running behind the Center for Urban Horticulture, the 55-acre wildlife area is an important place for students and faculty to conduct research in ecology, zoology, biology, engineering, landscape architecture, botany and more. But on a more basic level, it's a fabulous place to walk your dog, enjoy one of the area's premier bird-watching spots, and just disappear from the hubbub of city life (even though you could probably hit the University Village Shopping Center with a good Frisbee throw). It's long been Seattle's best urban bird-watching site, with more than 180 migratory and resident bird species recorded and new sightings occurring every year. The area (which served as a city dump from 1926-66 but was morphed into a natural area beginning in 1972) is also home to raccoons, opossums and skunks among other creatures (and had been the site of zillions of wild blackberry plants, which provided great eats but are now being eradicated because of the threat they are causing to the area's other flora). Now under the careful watch of the Center for Urban Horticulture, the Union Bay Natural Area is closely managed to maintain and enhance the vegetation, wildlife and landscape values while serving as an outdoor laboratory for research, teaching and public service. And getting away from it all.—Jon Marmor

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