Mar

10

A free workshop offered by the Environmental Science Center gives Seattle area residents a chance to learn more about the design principles that can improve water quality in nearby creeks, lakes, and Puget Sound. Everything from how storm water flows through your waterfront property to the products you use to maintain your yard can directly influence the health of the recreational areas and wildlife habitat that make up the local waterfront.

A Lifetime Impact from Two Hours of Learning

On Saturday, March 29, the Environmental Science Center, SvR Design Company, and Sustainable Burien are offering a free workshop from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Burien Community Center. Registration is required for the session, which will be led by SvR Design Company principal Peg Staeheli, PLA, LEED AP. She will explain what is meant by low-impact design and how adopting these principles can lessen your carbon footprint as well as help the overall health of local waterfront environments. What you learn at this session can have a lifelong impact on how you see your role in the local watershed.

Why You Should Be “Stepping Lightly” on Puget Sound

Workshop organizers use the phrase “stepping lightly” as a reference to leaving a smaller carbon footprint, or environmental impact, on the world around you. For those with waterfront property, having clean water and healthy wildlife nearby enhances the pleasure of living so close to a lake or Puget Sound, but even those who don’t have a daily front-row seat from their waterfront homes will surely appreciate the availability of clean drinking water and abundant salmon and other seafood. Making environmentally friendly choices, like using natural pesticides and organic fertilizer and using native plants in your landscaping, can minimize the footprint you make and reduce the pollution and toxic chemicals in the local watershed.

Being Green Can Save You Greenbacks

Learning about and following low-impact principles can save you money. Chemical fertilizers are easy to come by, and the Center for Watershed Protection says that while 50% of homeowners use them as a routine part of lawn care, only 10-20% of homeowners actually test their soil to see if fertilizers are needed. The rest are pouring money along with toxic chemicals down the drainage pipe! When putting in landscaping around your home, pick plants that are native to the Seattle area which will not only be less costly than more exotic options, they also won’t require as much watering and caretaking to flourish. Carefully designing your landscape to manage and collect rainwater can also reduce your utility bills, either through creating rain gardens that allow water to more thoroughly seep into your soil or by collecting water in rain barrels to water your garden at a later date.

Waterfront Residents Benefit from Low-Impact Design

As you can see, there are financial and environmental reasons to incorporate low-impact design into your waterfront property. The free workshop on March 29 is a great opportunity to learn more about the principles that can help you save money and ensure the long-term health of the local watershed.

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Dec

31

Seattle is composed of rich and diverse communities that offer their own holiday celebrations. While many people are celebrating around the downtown area, waterfront houses have family-friendly activities to help you celebrate as well. Whether you want to watch a light tour, take a cruise on Puget Sound, or venture on the Great Ferris Wheel, you can find Christmas fun along the waterfront that appeals to everyone.

Ride the Ducks Light Tour

Originally crafted for use in World War II, the Ducks are part automobile, part boat. The Ride the Ducks Tour takes you on a drive around highlighted parts of Seattle and then through the Lake Union waterfront area by boat. After Thanksgiving, the company offers a Holiday Duck Tour to view Seattle’s best-decorated areas such as Westlake Center and Toyland Village by Pier 57. Along with lights, you will enjoy the outgoing fun personality of your tour Captain. He will have you singing classic Christmas tunes like ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ while sharing holiday facts. This tour lasts 40 minutes and is available for all ages.

Christmas Ship Festival

Since 1949, the Christmas Ship Festival has been cruising the Puget Sound waterfront communities to offer a relaxing celebration. There are three ways to celebrate: aboard a cruise ship, on your own boat, or from the shore. While aboard ship, you will listen to a choir as they carol to each of the 45 waterfront communities. Tours are available that include dinner or, for the younger crowd, morning Santa brunches. If you have your own boat, you can add lights and join in the Christmas Ship Parade. Each year, Seattle aims to have the largest floating holiday parade in the world. You can help make this a success while enjoying the view of lights from the water. The combination of the night waters and twinkling shore is made for memories.

Even those on the shore can take part in the Christmas Ship Festival. Each waterfront community in the Puget Sound area offers a place to view the boats as they pass by. You will hear a 20-minute session of Christmas caroling from the ship and others on land. There is a hospitality tent and a large bonfire to keep you warm as you mingle with others.

Ferris Wheel for the New Year

The Great Ferris Wheel has recently been added to the attractions in downtown Seattle waterfront. While it is currently open, you can bring in the New Year with a special dinner and ride. There is an early and late dinner, each taking place at The Fisherman’s with a three-course meal and party favors. Then, you can sip some champagne while you take in the night views and celebrations from the Ferris Wheel. This is a great way to ring in the New Year while admiring the views of waterfront homes and activity. Photos are included with your purchase.

Seattle’s diverse landscape gives you opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a way other cities cannot. When you want take in the holiday waterfront, options are available for everyone. Make it a romantic evening on the Great Wheel or enjoy the lights with your entire family. The Seattle waterfront can helps you create memories to last whether you are looking for a waterfront home or evening out.

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Sep

10

Generally, even among waterfront real estate, there isn’t much that’s noteworthy enough about a single property to warrant its own blog post. Here’s an exception. There is a newly available waterfront estate on the sandy beachfront of Puget Sound that spans 5.5 acres, as well as more than 50 years of history. Historically, it was named “Kewn” after the Gaelic word for a “peaceful place in the forest” and the Skagit Indian word for “peaceful lady”. This theme of peace is well represented by the estate, which offers unprecedented privacy and quiet. It’s comfortably nestled between the exclusive Three Tree Point and Seahurst waterfront communities.

Features of the Puget Sound Estate

Even along the waterfront, few properties can compete with this massive estate. Available on the Puget Sound waterfront just 15 minutes from downtown Seattle, the estate overlooks the Puget sound, the Olympic Mountain range, and more than 200 feet of low bank sandy beach. Across the full 5.5 acres, you’ll find rare trees, ponds, waterfalls, and other gorgeous natural features. More than just for viewing, the estate accommodates an active lifestyle making it easier than ever to go boating, hike in the mountains, walk along the shoreline, and more.

The Home Itself

Overlooking a promontory is the house itself, an 8000-square-foot wonder with a Mid Century Modern style. It has 9 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, two garages, and some iconic architectural features. One such feature is its curved wall of glass along the west side, perfect for viewing Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It also includes a separate 1500 square foot cabin that’s situated just beyond the water’s edge, which provides an even greater sense of solitude and peace. Perhaps it’s a happy coincidence, but this home known for peace is not located within the flight pattern of the airport, despite the airport being only 10 minutes away. There’s really nothing like this marvel of construction and natural beauty.

Historical Documents

What really sets this estate apart from the wide variety of waterfront houses in Seattle is its history. As made evident by historical documents from more than a half century ago, the estate was once home to the world-renowned Kewn Gardens, which was designed by Fred Cole. He is remembered for his famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, but in Seattle, he’s certainly remembered for his iconic contribution to the Seattle waterfront landscape. Even today, the estate offers a covered patio and walking garden that’s full of exotic plants like giant rhododendrons, azaleas, and a variety of rare trees.

Other historical documents showcase its beauty through artistic renderings that represent a snapshot in time. Every once in a while, it’s fun to stop and take a look at a property with such a history behind it. The estate was owned by the same family for over 100 years, so there’s no question that this particular estate is a once in a lifetime opportunity. From its prominent history within the Seattle area to its incredible amenities and features, there’s no question that “Kewn” is a waterfront estate worthy of its renown.

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Jul

30

The beautiful waterfront real estate community of Pine Lake has a new story to tell. Today, Pine Lake itself is considered ground zero for a new infestation of the invasive species identified as Red Swamp Crayfish. Pine Lake is a small body of water just 40 feet deep and located roughly 20 miles to the east of Seattle. Picture the shores of this area, populated with gorgeous waterfront property, a series of docks, and vibrant waterfront activity. Now imagine the devastation that could be wrought on the delicate ecosystem of this Northwest community. The Red Swamp Crayfish is causing problems that current and prospective owners of waterfront houses in the greater Seattle metropolitan area need to keep in mind.

How It Happened

The problem began as these crawfish migrated north from their native habitat on the Gulf Coast and in Southeastern United States, leapfrogging from Northwestern lake to Northwestern lake and encroaching on the native species of fish like bass or trout. Bass and trout fishermen in Pine Lake rely on a healthy supply of fish, and the ecosystem balance has now shifted to the point where Red Swamp Crayfish have outnumbered the hometown species of crayfish known as signal crayfish. Over the course of 13 years, it’s changed from a 1 to 1 ratio to a ratio of 5 or 10 to 1 today, a catastrophic shift for the native species.

Why It’s Harmful

The invasion is having an impact on both the ecology of the area and the local economy, making it personal for the many waterfront home owners in Pine Lake and other Seattle lakefront communities. Specifically, the Red Swamp Crawfish has an adverse effect on other lake species, eating tadpoles and fish eggs while reproducing more quickly and prolifically than other species like the signal crayfish. They also consume the plants that provide cover for young fish, leaving them more vulnerable to predation. Over time, the accumulation of Red Swamp Crayfish is leading to a huge disruption of the ecosystem, while damaging the diversity and unique charm of the waterfront.

What Can Be Done

On the positive side, the infestation has been met with swift opposition by a wide range of responders. Many who have a home on the waterfront have joined in on the campaign to either eradicate the Red Swamp Crayfish entirely, or to at least drive their numbers back down to sustainable levels. In order to accomplish this, waterfront homeowners in Pine Lake are setting a huge number of traps in the water. Pine Lake residents are encouraged to tally how many they catch and so far, the residents have seen their efforts pay off with more than 500 Red Swamp Crayfish caught just this year. There’s additional good fortune in the fact that residents can enjoy the crawfish they catch in a range of enjoyable dishes, including everything from crayfish pie to crayfish bakes.

While the epicenter of the problem might be Pine Lake, there are actually nine other Washington State lakes with their own Red Swamp Crayfish infestation. It’s up to all of these waterfront communities to be vigilant in containing this threat to their properties and the attractive natural wonder of Seattle and Washington’s lakes.

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Apr

23

It’s common knowledge that major bodies of water are public property. This was established long ago so that no one person could monopolize crucial water sources. What happens though, when a public lake is completely surrounded by private property? That’s exactly the topic of debate for homeowners and public residents who want access to Lake Burien.

Lake Burien, which is a 44-acre lake in King County, Washington located at the old town center of Burien, is entirely surrounded by private waterfront property owners, creating a serene oasis for them to enjoy. Because their homes surround the lake, they have exclusive access compared to the rest of the town. However, since the lake is considered a public resource, this exclusive access has been a point of contention for a now.

Every now and then, public residents who don’t own the waterfront real estate in Burien request that public access to the lake be created. However, the private owners are concerned about what this could do to the environment. To research the matter, several lakeside property owners hired a team of environmental consultants who did in fact conclude that public access to the lake would “entail significant risk of degradation” and that opening up public access would be “ill-advised.” Some of the reasoning behind this is that the lake is too shallow for increased use. At only 29 feet at its deepest and an average depth of just 13 feet, a large increase in boat, pet, and human traffic would definitely have a big impact on the ecosystem of the lake. Of course, while homeowners understand why the public wants access, the idea of destroying an ecosystem and losing their peace and quiet has caused some concern. Their hope is that the environmental recommendation would prevent any potentially-damaging public access even if lakefront property were to be transitioned into a park.

The Burien waterfront home owners say it’s fine for people to want to come and look at the lake, but it’s the access to the water itself that could be detrimental. In other words, they want to keep boats and other water-born activities limited to the few home owners. This is in an attempt to save its environmental state, since increased access to thousands of people could “irreversibly damage” the lake.

The public has also raised some valid points though, saying opening up a park and perhaps some city-owned lots could bring revenue to the town. A proposal to rezone the area was suggested. There is also a children’s center nearby that had hopes of buying and selling adjacent lake lots in order to improve their own financial situation. These ideas have not yet been approved though.

Obviously, this kind of private control of such a tranquil body of water greatly improves home values in the area, and waterfront land owners of Burien are guaranteed to enjoy peace, quiet, and a beautiful view as well as some very exclusive lakeside access. With approximately 48,000 people residing in the city though, the odds of buying one of these homes to take advantage of those benefits are not great. It is possible that an agreement could be created in the near future. Such a compromise would need to take into account the environmental integrity of the lake as well as the overall good of the community.

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Jul

6

Supporters of an officially sanctioned clothing-optional beach in the Seattle area gained a little bit of momentum recently, although the parks board of commissioners have placed it as a low priority until there’s a clearer sign of broader support within the community.

There are currently three unofficial nudist beach sites around Seattle located at Magnuson Park, Discovery Park, and the “Secret Beach” of Lake Washington. However, people get asked by police to wear clothing at those beaches from time to time by the beach.
Maybe if there are more 90 degree days locally they’ll get that broader support! 🙂

Click here for Angle Lake SeaTac Seattle waterfront house for sale, lakefront real estate

Angle Lake waterfront home for sale close to Seattle (click photo for info)

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Nov

5

In addition to your own private beachfront, there are many terrific long expanses of public beachfront around the Seattle area of Puget Sound. Here some of the best beaches close in to the city. Be sure to explore further out for many others as well, including terrific parks in Tacoma, Vashon Island, and much more.

 

Best Sand Beaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Beach Walks

With a stroller:

 

With a day-pack:

 

 

Best Beach Picnics

 

 

 

 

 

Best for Sea Creatures

 

 

 

Best Beaches with Playgrounds

 

 

 

 

 

Best Beaches for Fires

(in designated fire pits only)

 

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Apr

4

The University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory and the Occupational Skills Center Marine Technology Center have joined together to provide a near-real-time web camera on the Seahurst Park beach and another web camera located underwater just off the shore. You can see what is currently happening in those two locations, and can also obtain time lapse video that quickly spans an entire day of underwater activity, selected video events of interest, motion capture images, and data plots.

May 2008 update: the underwater camera appears to have been removed from the web.

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Jan

16

The Emerald City has another jewel in its crown: the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront of downtown Seattle. It officially opens to the public Saturday and Sunday January 20-21, and I recommend stopping by for a stroll when you are next in the area.

Whatever your particular tastes and however you may feel about the modern sculptures represented throughout the park, it’s a bold urban move in a prime development spot that ended up being preserved for public space and urban lifestyle. It also connects the city core literally with the water again: it has returned 850 feet of shoreline back to a more naturally sloped and publicly accessible topography, right in the middle of downtown Seattle.

The meandering path and architectural control emphasizes integration with the art, yet the views are expansive outwards to Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountain range, downtown skyscrapers, ferry traffic, and even Mt Rainier. One stop shopping for all the local classics there.

And perhaps one of the most impressive feats is invisible to the casual visitor: $64M of the park’s $85M total were from private donors, not from government tax sources.

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