In the two years since it opened, Herring’s
House Park has proven that if you put salmon first, people will
By Clair Enlow
Herring’s House Park introduces 7.8 acres of green, including
1.8 acres of new intertidal basin, to the brownfields and backwashes
of Seattle’s old industrial shoreline. Tidal mud flats and
gravel beaches reach from the bay into an upland scrub meadow scattered
with salmonberry, Nootka rose, and salal. Cedar nags stand like
reminders of a wilder past, guarding young native fir, spruce, and
pine trees. Eagles, ospreys, and herons establish nesting sites.
Once you find this intense pocket of Northwest natural history,
it’s hard not to get lost in the scenery. Mount Rainier seems
close at hand. Freight cranes and city skyline loom in the distance,
eons away. It’s as if the sawmills and the ships and all the
rest had never spoiled this place at the base of Elliott Bay, where
the Duwamish, once a river, is now a “waterway.” “Herring’s
House” is a geographic name for a Native American seasonal
settlement near the site. But there are no more buildings on this
little stretch of shore. Instead, science and scenery are brought
together for a purpose—to bring back this section of wildness
on the overdeveloped Duwamish, along with a salmon habitat that
will help the city reach its goals of restoring salmon runs in the
river and its tributaries.
J. A. Brennan Associates, with offices in Seattle and Taipei, has
shaped shoreline environments on both sides of the ocean. Landscape
architect Jim Brennan, ASLA, project manager for Herring’s
House Park, explains that the park was designed around the precise
conditions preferred by copepods and other tiny organisms that hover
in shallow waters, just above the mud. They are fed upon by juvenile
salmon, entering a food chain that includes the eagle and the heron.
“It’s kind of a bug farm,” says Brennan about
Herring’s House Park.
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