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Sal the Salmon explores the trees of West Seattle!

This blog was written by Sal the SpokesSalmon (with the help from her human friends at SDOT). 

Why, HELLO! It’s ME, Sal, SDOT’s SpokesSalmon who’s getting the word out to #FlipYourTrip and quit driving alone so much. SDOT lets me take over the blog and social media accounts from time to time. 

I spend most of my time in West Seattle these days. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure looking forward to the West Seattle Bridge opening next year so fewer people have to drive through my High Point neighborhood to get off the peninsula. That reminds me, if you want to help my neighbors out, try taking the bus or riding your bike over the West Seattle Low Bridge to get downtown instead of driving alone. 

This summer I’m livin’ it up on the island paradise of West Seattle! We’re surrounded by sandy beaches (including some hidden ones) and have a bajillion parks to explore. 

Last weekend, I was biking back from the High Point Public Library on the High Point Stay Healthy Street, and I ran into my friend Ella McRae! Have you met Ella? She’s a fin-tastic human who’s always connecting people and working to make our community stronger. In fact, that’s her job. She’s a Community Builder for the Seattle Housing Authority in High Point.  

Ella was standing with some people at the corner of SW Graham St and 29th Ave SW and was staring up at a big old maple tree with HUGE leaves. She called me over and started rattling off facts about Big Papa, the tree’s nickname because it’s the maple tree with the largest leaves. Turns out, she was leading a tree walk through the neighborhood. Intrigued, I  joined her. 

Sal the Salmon
Here I am at Common Park near a cedar tree using the Tree Walk app! I learned that scientists aren’t still sure if this particular tree is a deodar or a cedar of lebanon. They would likely need a microscope or even DNA to be 100% certain! Cool. Conifer trees, like this one, create lots of shade, take up plenty of water, clean stormwater runoff, and filter the air for the neighborhood.  

Our Trees for Seattle program works with community members to create super cool self-guided tree walks all around Seattle where you can get out in nature and learn about some of your neighborhoods’ trees.  

Ella was one of the brilliant minds behind the High Point Tree Walk. She often organizes group tree walks to encourage people to look up and appreciate the beauty of our trees.  

Trees have huge environmental, economic, health, and social benefits. They improve our air and water quality, lower temperatures, offer natural stormwater management and make community spaces and streets more beautiful and enjoyable for people to walk, bike, scooter, roll, rollerblade, skip, swim, and run! 

The High Point Tree Walk route overlaps with part of the High Point Stay Healthy Street so you can stand in the middle of the street to gaze up at the trees.   

Stay Healthy Streets are open to people walking, rolling, biking, and skipping and closed to most cars and trucks. We have two in West Seattle and they are GREAT ways for people to get around by foot or wheels (but not car wheels).  

Quick tangent – don’t you love how the High Point Stay Healthy Street is in the shape of a P?!? P for Point!! I know my buddies at SDOT chose this stretch of road to be a Stay Healthy Street because it was part of a neighborhood greenway and has traffic calming structures like speed humps and roundabouts, but it makes me smile every time I see the P on the map.  

ANYWAYS (Once I get started talking about Stay Healthy Streets, it’s hard for me to stop!)  

Along our tree walk we saw someone spray painting the ground. I’m a huge fan of public art, so I stopped by to see what he was doing.  

Turns out, it was Pierre LaBarge from Seattle Public Utilities and he was stenciling an orca (I’m terrified of those creatures!) with a reminder not to dump anything into the storm drains. Did you know everything that goes down those drains ends up in our local creeks, rivers, and eventually the Puget Sound? Yuck! 

I had a great afternoon exploring nature in my neighborhood.  

Even though I highly recommend going on a tree walk with Ella, they’re designed to be self-guided. If you’re tech savvy like me, you can use the Tree Walk app on your smart phone. Or, if you’re a paper person, you could download printable images of the tree walk maps, scavenger hunts, and even coloring pages. 

The High Point Tree Walk starts at the Neighborhood House. You can get there by taking the 21, 120, or 128 Metro lines. — I 💖 Metro buses. They’re one of the many ways to get around, and off, West Seattle that don’t involve driving alone.  

Remember, when you #FlipYourTrip and ditch a drive alone car trip, you’re helping to decrease traffic through South Park, Georgetown, Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, and other neighborhoods along the West Seattle Bridge detour routes.  

I know, sometimes, people have to drive to get where they need to go. Trust me, I get it. That’s why it’s so important that all of us who have other travel options should do our part. That way, people who don’t have a choice can get where they need to go more easily. 

Need some tips on how to #FlipYourTrip? Check out our West Seattle and Duwamish Valley Travel Options portal.