Duwamish Hill Preserve

The Duwamish Hill Preserve is a 10.5 acre parcel of historical, cultural and ecological significance in Tukwila.

Duwamish Hill volunteers
Photo by Kurt Schlimme

Thanks to the actions of many partners including the Friends of the Hill, Forterra and the City of Tukwila, the property was purchased in 2004 and has been in active restoration ever since. The Duwamish Hill Preserve serves as an outdoor classroom, an active space for informal recreation, a culturally significant location for Native Americans and an example of a successful partnership between community members and public and private partners.

Find a Duwamish Hill Preserve restoration event

Creation of the Preserve

In 2001, Forterra, the City of Tukwila and local citizen group Friends of the Hill formed a partnership to work towards the preservation of a 10.5 acre parcel slated for industrial development. The land was successfully acquired in 2004 by Forterra (then Cascade Land Conservancy) and the City of Tukwila. In September 2010, after many years of hard work by volunteers, the Duwamish Hill Preserve was officially opened to the public. The Preserve now includes an outdoor classroom area, the Cultural Garden, an enhanced trail system and continued restoration opportunities for volunteers. The Duwamish Hill Preserve is managed as a public open space preserve dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of its rich Native American cultural history, ecological importance and community impact.

Natural History

The hill, from which the Preserve gets its name, is a glacial remnant that is older than Mount Rainier. Within the Preserve are a number of unique microclimates, including the rare Rocky Bald habitat. Rocky balds feature many species of flora and fauna that are rarely seen along the banks of the Duwamish River. As restoration work continues you can enjoy the natural history of this place by visiting during different seasons. Listen for the first croaking frogs announcing the end of winter in February. Come back in May to see beautiful blue camas blooms. Return again in late summer and fall to look for hazelnuts and acorns ripening.

The Hill is located within the Lower Green Watershed. The map below provides context for the Hill’s space within the watershed.

Duwamish Hill Preserve Map

Cultural History

Due to its elevated position above the Duwamish River, the Hill offered a vantage point from which Native Americans could watch for incoming groups and communicate with fellow tribe members along the Duwamish River Valley. Additionally, the Hill is associated with the southern Puget Sound Salish oral tradition in the stories collectively known as the “Epic of the Winds,” as told by Roger Fernandes below.

 

Puget Sound Salish Cultural Garden

The Cultural Garden at the base of the hill features restored habitats with native plants important to the Puget Sound Salish people.  As the Garden becomes established, Preserve stewards intend to work with tribal and community partners to offer opportunities for sustainable harvesting of traditional foods and basket-making materials.

The cultural and natural history of the Preserve is artistically presented through etched bench backs on the Hill and illustrated signs throughout the Cultural Garden created by local artist, Mette Hanson. A focal point for the Garden is the “Journey Through the Seasonal Rounds” installation on the northwest side of Hill. This large granite etching highlights traditional uses of native plants by the Puget Sound Salish people and serves as a gathering place for classes and storytelling. A Duwamish basket design is featured at the center and encircles the piece.

Restoration

Thousands of volunteers have contributed countless hours of work removing invasive weeds and planting native trees and shrubs. The Friends of the Hill make up a core group of dedicated volunteers that host monthly restoration work parties at the Hill and offer local community members a chance to contribute to the restoration of this amazing preserve. We’d love for you to join us!

Find related events
Email us

Educational Opportunities

The Hill is an excellent outdoor classroom. In collaboration with local teachers, administrators and community members, Forterra is working to encourage and facilitate educational programming by hosting field trips and creating curriculum centered around the unique features of the hill.

Forterra has worked with Tukwila School District teachers to develop lesson plans for students of all ages to use on field trips to the Hill, along with pre-visit and post-visit classroom activities. Download an information packet with sample curriculum for elementary and middle school students:

Download school info packet and sample curriculum

We invite teachers throughout the Puget Sound region to bring school groups to the Hill for exploration of this unique property and hands-on experience with restoring native plants. Curriculum links include environmental science, social studies, the arts, and many other topics.

If you would like to learn more about getting a school or youth group involved please email us.

 

Funding for acquisition and restoration of this property has been supported by grants from many generous contributors. The 10.5 acre property was acquired in two phases between 2004 and 2012 with support from:

  • 4Culture – King County Lodging Tax
  • City of Tukwila
  • Foster High School Drama Club – Proceeds from the Duwamish Hill Play
  • Individual donors
  • Interagency Committee for Outdoor Research, Land Conservation Fund (now the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office)
  • King Conservation District
  • King County Conservation Futures Fund
  • King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission
  • Muckleshoot Community Charity Fund
  • SAFECO
  • Seattle Police Athletic Association
  • The Boeing Company
  • Washington State Legislature – Capital Budget Fund

In addition to a tremendous amount of in-kind work by the Friends of the Hill, Forterra, Tukwila Parks & Recreation Department and many other volunteers, Phase I and 2 restoration and development has been supported by:

  • 4Culture – King County Lodging Tax
  • Alaska Copper
  • City of Tukwila
  • Ex Officio
  • King Conservation District
  • King County Department of Natural Resources – Waterworks Program
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • REI
  • Sound Transit
  • Washington State Heritage Capital Projects Fund

Special thanks to traditional basket weaver Melinda West for the use of the “Gatherer’s Creed” in the Seasonal Rounds Gathering Place artwork.

If you would like to make a contribution to this project, contact us.

Comments