Diversity in the Juanita Woodlands

The Juanita Woodlands are one of the few remaining islands of forests amidst the rampant commercial and residential development overtaking the Kirkland-Juanita area. They are home to several species of birds, including Bald Eagle; Osprey; Great Horned Owl; Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks; Belted Kingfisher; Stellar’s Jay; Evening Grosbeak; Pileated, Hairy, and Downy woodpeckers; and the Rufous Hummingbird. Mountain beaver, raccoon, skunk, and coyote are also present. Many other bird species, such as Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk, storm-petrels, loons, and grebes, may depend on the forest’s resources for cover, roosting, nesting, fledging, migrating, and over-wintering, while frogs, toads, salamanders, trout, salmon, shrews, and bats may depend on it for foraging and breeding.

Local biologist Louis Berner, in his assessment of a 10-acre section of the property, describes a “diverse, mixed-aged forest” with abundant over-mature trees and snags, the snags being excellent potential bat roosting habitat. Douglas-fir, Western Redcedar, hemlock, PacificYew, Pacific White Fir, and a variety of deciduous trees including bigleaf maple, alder, cottonwood, madrona, and dogwood grace the landscape, creating a richly varied canopy with an ever-changing spectrum of light. “If left to natural processes,” Berner concluded, “the forest is likely to continue providing food and cover for many bird, insect, and mammal species.” Surrounding the Juanita Woodlands are relatively well-forested neighborhoods, which serve to extend and buffer the woodlands themselves, enhancing the value of the property as wildlife habitat. In addition, the woodlands are only a quarter mile away from O.O. Denny Creek Park and the Big Finn Hill Natural Area, which are directly connected and also connect to St. Edward’s State Park. “This high degree of connectivity,” Berner notes, “and the combined size of the parks and natural areas further enhances the functionality of the…property.” Finally, he emphasizes that the Juanita Woodlands are “not an isolated piece of wild land within an urban context. Rather, [they are] an active piece of a much larger functional system of forestlands, riparian areas, and wildlife habitats.”

The Juanita Woodlands not only serve as a buffer between neighborhoods but they offer first-hand lessons in environmental stewardship to students and residents alike. Just as important, their conversion from canopy to concrete would create more residential runoff directly into a year-round stream coursing through a protected ravine on the property. Together, the water and ravine provide an important habitat component for many species of wildlife that is rapidly disappearing from urban areas everywhere.

The respite these peaceful woods provide from a restless world is irreplaceable. Exploring them on foot is a journey within oneself, and driving through their soothing shadow one feels protected, as their presence is as close and comforting as the shoulder of an unfailing friend.

Don’t miss the 2011 DCNA General Meeting – This Thursday!

  • WHEN: Thursday, April 22
  • TIME: 6:30-9:00pm
  • WHERE: Finn Hill Junior High School (Cafetorium)
  • WHAT: Every April, DCNA holds an annual meeting to review the year’s accomplishments and discuss current issues in our neighborhood. This Thursday’s annual meeting will focus on the upcoming annexation with Kirkland. The meeting will feature Deb Powers, City of Kirkland’s urban forester, and Nona Ganz, City of Kirkland Green Team volunteer, who will discuss the environmental implications of the annexation.  We will also be holding our annual elections for the Board and hosting a question and answer session with our guests, DCNA board members, and others in attendance. See you there!
  • QUESTIONS? Contact us at info@dennycreek.org.

Comments are closed.