Each year’s program focuses on a timely topic, designed to bring together professionals involved in the different components of large-scale urban restoration and green infrastructure projects, including landscape architects, garden designers, landscape contractors, restoration companies and organizations, project managers and landscape maintenance staff from institutions and agencies.

Stewardship Required:
The Power of Interdisciplinary Collaboration for Long -term Function of Urban Natural Areas

Wednesday-Thursday, January 30-31, 2019Union Bay Natural Area
8:30 am – 3:00 pm

UW Botanic Gardens
Center for Urban Horticulture – NHS Hall
3501 NE 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98105


Most people expect established natural area landscapes to be low maintenance. That concept comes back to haunt us when the realities of invasive weeds, aggressive native species, and plant encroachments demand immediate attention. As the fox said in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, “You become responsible forever for what you have tamed.” And so, for all the urban natural area plantings we create: stewardship is required.

Taken out of the context of wilderness areas, urban natural areas demand attention to the details of plant selection, site design, and maintenance standards to keep them functioning well. The significant costs of deferred maintenance that have been documented for urban trees and landscapes apply equally to urban natural areas. With proactive and timely collaboration between researchers, city planners, site managers, landscape designers and engineers, field crews, volunteer stewards, and others, we have the power to improve and protect this valuable environmental resource in our communities. Join us for this rare opportunity to exchange information across the mix of professions responsible for creating and maintaining urban natural areas.

Agenda (PDF)

Day One (Jan. 30):

  • Under Pressure: The urgency to acquire public lands (and how to keep up with growth).
    Sarah Brandt, King County Parks, Open Space Government Relations Administrator, and
    Lina Rose, King County Parks Volunteer Program Manager
  • The Power of Collaborative Design: Lessons for urban natural areas from a study of urban parking lot landscapes
    Christina Pfeiffer, Horticulture Consultant & Educator and a Consulting Associate at Urban Forestry Services, Inc.
  • Stepping inside and outside the lines: Collaboration, pragmatism and stewardship in design, construction and maintenance of a restoration project.
    Justin Howell, Owner and Manager of Applied Ecology, LLC
  • Growing Wild Plants
    Ned McGinley, Nursery Manager, Sound Native Plants
  • Best Practices for Financial Stewardship
    Micki McNaughton, Arborea, LLC
  • Winning Public Support and Sustainable Funding for Natural Areas
    Barbara Wright, Healthy Community Advocate (formerly Seattle-King County Environmental Health Deputy Director and King County Parks Manager)

Day Two (Jan. 31):

  • Planting Preparation and Maintenance – is the Gold-Standard Really Needed?
    Matt Knox, Environmental Supervisor, City of Kent Public Works Department, Environmental Engineering
  • Growing Healthier Natural Areas: Embracing Lessons from Other Professions
    Ben Thompson, Urban Forestry Specialist, Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources
  • Stewardship in Action
    Tour of Yesler Swamp with self-guided materials
  • Building partnerships for Wildlife Management in Seattle’s Natural Areas
    Patti Bakker, Supervisor of the Urban Forest Restoration Program/Green Seattle Partnership within Seattle Parks and Recreation
  • Best Practices for Stewardship: A 4-Phase Approach to Working with Volunteers
    Mariska Kecskes, EarthCorps, Senior Project Manager
  • Be a Mad Scientist! Use Experimentation to Blow Up ‘Common Sense’ and Magnify your Impact.
    Josh Latterell, Ph.D. Senior Ecologist, Monitoring Program Manager, Ecological Restoration and Engineering Services Unit, King County Water and Land Resources Division


What do we mean by urban natural areas? Primarily, landscapes planted with native species in parks and public lands, wetland buffers, and the boundary areas between the built environment and natural forests.

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