Over two decades ago, the Port of Seattle initiated the largest habitat restoration project along the Duwamish River in a generation. Terminal 117 was transformed from a legacy industrial site with significant contamination to a 14-acre habitat and public access site known as the Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat (DRPP).
DRPP represents the collaborative power among Duwamish Valley residents, government agencies, and Tribes. The project had three critical goals: clean up a highly contaminated site, restore natural habitat, and create community connections with the Duwamish River. A century of industrialization had dramatically reshaped the river and surrounding community and more than 99% of wetlands and natural resources had been lost.
Now that the site is cleaned up and restored, the project has increased critical salt-marsh habitat by 40%, residents are enjoying the public access, and salmon have begun to discover the site. Cleanup removed pavement, structures, and 60,000 tons of soil and sediment. Afterward, 40,000 native plants, a viewpoint pier, trails, art, treaty-fishing piling, and a hand-carry boat launch were installed. The park also serves as a learning lab for youth seeking hands-on experience.
The project applied an innovative financing model. DRPP establishes the Port’s first “habitat credit bank” that enables third parties to purchase mitigation credits to help them comply with national regulations. Revenue from credit sales will fund additional habitat restoration projects.
The Port’s 10-year monitoring program measures everything from wildlife presence, site stability, carbon sequestration, and vegetation health. A restored and renewed park supports SDG goals 11, 14, and 15. As the DRPP flourishes, continuing to bring together environmental restoration, community, and Tribes, it will remain a park “for the people.”