The Port of Seattle announced this week that it will conduct an inventory of the environmental, community, and recreational attributes of 55 acres of land in the southern portion of North SeaTac Park.

This portion of the 195-acre park is mostly a forested area with several tree varieties, though the Port says it suffers from a significant overgrowth of invasive plants. It also contains a network of trails used by bicyclists, runners, and walkers.

The Port says that results of the inventory are “intended to help guide future land use decisions and forest management.”

As we previously reported, North SeaTac Park was originally included in the Port’s SAMP as the location for a proposed surface parking lot (L06) to meet future airport employee parking needs. But after much public resistance, Port staff made the recommendation that L06 be removed from further consideration and that different alternatives be explored.

The parking lot proposal resulted in a popular online petition which included opposition from local politicians, and last month the Federal Aviation Administration removed North SeaTac Park as a consideration from planning documents.

“The park provides benefits on many levels: tree canopy that sequesters carbon and cools the earth; habitat for wildlife from birds to salmon; and recreational opportunities for the community from bike trails to rugby,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said. “The inventory I’ve proposed will provide a fuller picture of the park and its attributes, so together we can steward it for both the present and the future.”

The park is primarily owned by the Port of Seattle and leased to the City of SeaTac, which manages the site as a park. SeaTac will also collaborate with the Port to conduct the inventory of habitat and uses.

“The Port and SeaTac have worked together for several years to produce assessments of forest health conditions in parks and natural areas, as well as to develop plans to restore forests and increase tree canopy,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck said. “This inventory is the next step toward managing this valuable public resource together.”

“The timing of this is very good,” City of SeaTac Deputy Mayor Peter Kwon said. “SeaTac is in the process of inventorying our parks and underutilized parcels. This inventory is yet another good way for SeaTac and the Port to move forward in collaboration.”

“I appreciate the Port’s willingness to stop and get the lay of the land, and to speak plainly about what’s at stake,” Community and forest advocate Noemie Maxwell added. “These acres contain Miller Creek’s headwaters and multiple wetland and tributaries. The trees there shade the waters that run to the nearby lake, peat bog, and other tributaries and they remove large amounts of air pollution from a highly impacted community. This action by the Port gives me hope and is so important for our community and our region.”

At a recent meeting, the Port of Seattle Commission voted to support the inventory and a pause in any planning for the parking lot site. In his comments about North SeaTac Park, Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck stated that:

“…no planning shall be taken by the Port in regard to the 55-acre property until (the) inventory is delivered (to the Commission).”

A plan to conduct the inventory is expected in October.