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Environmental Spotlight


Trunk-or-Treat 2017!


Last Saturday, October 28, Environmental Services got in the Halloween spirit and participated in the City's Trunk-or-Treat event held at Les Gove Park.

It was a fun-filled, sunny day! Thousands of superheroes, princesses, animals, and more (along with their friends and family) stopped by the Environmental Services truck decorated with pumpkins, plants, and creepy critters.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by!




Past Highlights

Please note the stories below reference past events...

Learn More About Boeing Auburn Groundwater Cleanup - Informational Displays at City of Auburn Annex

As of October 6, 2017, you can visit the City of Auburn Annex for information about: 


  • Cleanup progress
  • Results of the Remedial Investigation – now finalized.
  • Next steps for the cleanup

1 East Main ST, 2nd Floor
(Across Division Street from City Hall)
Business Hours:
Monday - Friday, 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM.

You can also see links to the:

There will be informational displays for viewing and printed materials for you to take home.  Of course you can always call us directly at 253-219-7645. Be sure to sign up on our listservlinks to external site for periodic updates 

Watch a video update on the Boeing Auburn Contaminated Groundwater Investigation – September, 2017

Ecology site manager, Neal Hines, presented to the Auburn City Council Study Session on September 11, 2017.  You can see his 20 minute presentationlinks to external site by going to the Auburn City website.
The presentation includes results of the Remedial Investigation into air quality, surface water, and groundwater results. 

 Fall 2017 


We welcome you to join us in our continued efforts to restore and enhance our valuable natural resources here in Auburn. All ages and skill levels are welcome to come enjoy some time connecting with nature and having fun in the process! 

Check out our flyer for dates and locations: Fall 2017 Events Flyer (PDF)






Kids Day 2017  

Friday, June 23, was Kids Day at Les Gove Park here in Auburn. It was a beautiful, sunny day and great way to kick off the summer. Families gathered at the park for activities, food, and fun!

The Environmental Services team, along with other City divisions and a variety of vendors, participated in the event. Our activity for the kiddos was a set of nature-based sensory boxes where kids could come over and try to guess what was inside each of the seven boxes, using only their sense of touch. Watching their faces as they cautiously lowered their hands through the hole in the each of the boxes and then feel around to try and guess what was inside was so much fun!

In each box was a different element from nature that could be found right here in Auburn. From a smooth antler, to poky pine cones and fluffy feathers, each item was different in size, shape, and texture, making for a great way to have the kids become familiar with our natural resources in a way that they may have never done before.

Thank you to all of those who stopped by to brave the sensory boxes. We hope to see you again next year!

Kids Day Kids Day


Clean Sweep 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017 (AKA Earth Day) was the City's annual Clean Sweep event. This a community-wide event with volunteers helping out at various project locations around the City. Environmental Services hosted a project at the Auburn Environmental Park. We had a GREAT group of volunteers come out to help us remove invasive plant species, such as ivy, plant native trees and shrubs, mulch, and pick up garbage!

A huge "thank you" to all of the volunteers who help make Clean Sweep possible!

Front Flower Bed (Before) Front Flower Bed (After)
Ivy-Filled Mulch Pile (Before) Ivy-Filled Mulch Pile (After)


Techniart-Hosted Puget Sound Energy Lighting Fair

LightbulbOn April 18, 2017 Techniart hosted a Puget Sound Energy lighting fair here at the 1 East Main Building (across from City Hall). They had displays and demonstrations set up to showcase a variety of Energy Star qualified light bulbs available for purchase. The event was a part of "Earth Week," leading up to the City's Clean Sweep event for Earth Day on April 22. Lots of people stopped by to purchase, and learn more about, the energy-efficient light bulb options. By the end of the fair, 486 light bulbs had been purchased!

Once installed, these bulbs will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 47,662 pounds annually; that is equivalent to the emissions of 4.6 cars! In addition, they will save about 30,949 kWh of electricity and $5,258 annually. For a more detailed breakdown of savings, check out the Environmental Impact Report (PDF).

A huge "thank you" to Techniart and all of those who stopped by the lighting fair!

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Celebrate Earth Week April 17th-April 22nd!


April 17 Mayoral Earth Day Proclamation (PDF)
Mayor Nancy Backus proclaimed April 22nd as International Earth Day at the City council meeting on this date.

April 18 Puget Sound Energy Lighting Fair (PDF)
Techniart hosted a Puget Sound Energy Lighting Fair, selling high-efficiency lightbulbs in addition to sink aerators and low-flow showerheads.

April 22 Clean Sweep
The City's annual Clean Sweep event takes place on Saturday, April 22nd. In addition, free car drip checks are made available by Futurewise to help reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater which makes its way into local water bodies and ultimately into the Puget Sound.

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2017 Children's Water Festival

ES Team's Maggie Gipson teaching students about the salmon lifecycle

On Wednesday March 29, 2017 Environmental Services, Storm Water, and Water Quality staff led classroom sessions during the annual Children's Water Festival, held at Green River College. Through six sessions of 25 minute classes, teams of City staff were able to interact with approximately 375 4th and 5th grade students through collaborative games highlighting watersheds, aquifers, the salmon lifecycle, the water cycle, and the importance of our freshwater resources.

It was another great year!



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Otter Spotter

On Sunday September 11, 2016 Environmental Manager Chris Andersen was out at the Auburn Environmental Park in the Mill Creek area when he spotted a rare visitor. While checking on a beaver dam in the area, he heard rustling across the creek from where he stood. He got his camera out and started to record, when an otter showed itself and began to lope across the grass, take a quick glance in Chris's direction, and plop into the water shortly after. It swam upstream for a bit, popped it's head up to check on Chris once more, and continued on it's way.

While it's known that river otters call this area their home, it is rare to see one in the wild in action. It's quite lucky to catch one on camera, so we would like to share this experience with you! Check out this short clip captured by Chris!


According to the Woodland Park Zoo Otter Spotter Community Science Initiative, river otters are sentinels of ecological health. This means that otters tend to choose to live in ecologically healthy areas, which is good news for the AEP! The recent restoration work completed at Mill Creek included the installation of a much larger culvert than the previous one, the planting of over 50,000 trees and shrubs, improved flood storage, and more, leading to easier passage and better water quality for salmon, otters, and other species. In the video, you can see a small beaver dam spanning the width of the creek, meaning that otter's aren't the only wetland mammal that have been putting the park to good use.  

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Japanese Exchange Students Tour the AEP

AEP tour group photo
Exchange students from Okinawa pose with Christina
Jarvis at the AEP entrance sign

On August 11th, 2016 Environmental Services Manager Chris Andersen and Environmental Outreach & Education Lead Christina Jarvis led 10 foreign exchange students from Okinawa, Japan on a tour of the Auburn Environmental Park. Kathy Spohnheimer, a coordinator for PeopleLink foreign exchange, originally contacted Christina about an opportunity for students to tour the park a few months prior. The ES Team was excited to hear that the AEP was drawing tourists from around the globe. We are always looking for opportunities to educate on environmental topics and spread the word about the ongoing educational and restoration projects at the park.

Christina developed an itinerary and tour for the students that provided information about the history of the park, wetlands, restoration projects, native and invasive species and more. After a boardwalk tour, the students were invited to enjoy the park at their own leisure, and were given an AEP scavenger hunt challenge which included 23 items you can find at the park. 

The AEP informational packet (PDF) created for the event includes the scavenger hunt checklist, a map of the park, a bird photo ID list including 40 native species, history of the AEP, information about wetlands, and a short list of other selected plant and animal species you can find at the park.

Environmental Services would like to thank the group once again for coming out to the park and spending a beautiful sunny day with us.

If you would like to set up a tour of your own, contact Environmental Services team by email or by phone at 253-288-4318.

AEP tour
Christina Jarvis giving Okinawa exchange students a tour of the AEP

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Lakeland Hills Community Picnic

Community Picnic
Sitting with Mayor Nancy Backus at the
Lakeland Hills Community Picnic

On June 28, 2016 the City hosted their second community picnic of the summer. This time it was at Sunset Park in Lakeland Hills, where City employees mingled with local residents and were available to answer questions. Everyone enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon, shared food potluck style, and told stories about life in Auburn. Environmental Services provided an educational opportunity on environmental topics for the children who attended the event, through face painting. The kids chose their favorite environmental symbol representing either water conservation, energy conservation, carbon capture, recycling, or protection of local endangered or sensitive species. The only payment required was a fact about the environmental topic they chose. Kids were excited to learn about the water cycle, reducing energy consumption, and our magnificent local species. After coming back for her fourth painting, one little girl then went to share her new knowledge of the water cycle with Mayor Backus. 

The picnic was a huge success. Thank you to everyone who came over for a fun and educational face painting!

Community Picnic
Maggie Gipson doing educational face
painting at the Lakeland Hills
Community Picnic
Community Picnic
Christina Jarvis doing educationalface paintingat the
Lakeland Hills Community Picnic

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Our Urban Watershed
Our Urban Watershed sign
in front of City Hall

Our Urban Watershed

Over 50 new educational signs are going up all around Northwestern Washington. Auburn was lucky enough to get ahold of six of these signs to be placed around the city. The display is titled "Our Urban Watershed (PDF)," and it provides tips for keeping our watershed clean, advertises several local green locations, and illustrates the connectedness of our watershed. Environmental Services feels it is of utmost importance that citizens recognize their relationship to our watershed, as well as where they are in relation to it. The signs will be placed 1) in front of City Hall, 2) at Brannan Park, 3) at Emerald Downs, 4) at Green River College, 5) at Auburn Library, and 6) at the Auburn Environmental Park.

If you'd like to see a list of all 55 sign locations, view the OUW Locations Summary (PDF).

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KidsDay 2016!

The ES Team's Christina Jarvis and Maggie
Gipson face painting at KidsDay 2016

Friday, June 24th was KidsDay, Auburn's annual end-of-school festival complete with food, bouncy castles, swings and other rides, giveaways, obstacle courses and more! This year marked the first year that Environmental Services was able to attend the event, alongside Auburn's Maintenance & Operations, Engineering, and Utilities groups. After experiencing the fun that is KidsDay, we will definitely be coming back for years to come! The ES Team set up an educational face painting booth where kids could choose their favorite option from a list of 13 environmental symbols, including several endangered species, the recycle symbol, and more.

The ES Team's Maggie Gipson and Christina Jarvis got to be face painters for the day. Even our Environmental Services Manager Chris Andersen sported his first face painting ever!

We really enjoyed spending time with Auburn's kids and sharing information about environmental topics and awareness. A giant "thank you" goes out to everyone who made it!

Admiring their matchingmountain pika paintings
ES Manager Chris Andersen sporting a tree painting
Happy with his new polar bear painting

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May is Puget Sound Starts Here Month!

Puget Sound Starts HereOn April 28, 2016 Governor Inslee proclaimed May as Puget Sound Starts Here month. It's a is part of the campaign's year-round effort to help make people aware of the streams, lakes and storm water drains that connect everyone with Puget Sound. See how you can celebrate by visiting the Puget Sound Starts Here websitelinks to external site

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Paying it Forward

George's Birdhouses in a City truckHalf of the 200 birdhouses donated to the City by George Lorenz

In January 2016, high school student Jack McGee completed a birdhouse for his sophomore project. The habitat feature was mounted in the Auburn Environmental Park, and an Auburn Magazine article publicized his wonderful contribution to the park.

In response to the article, George Lorenz, an Auburn resident and retired Boeing employee, contacted the City's Environmental Services team to offer his woodworking services in building and donating additional birdhouses to go in parks around Auburn. After speaking, both parties were excited about the opportunity to work together.

George constructs houses based on a birdhouse design book written by Russell Link, a Wildlife Biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This is the same source Jack used to complete his own birdhouse for the Marsh Wren. George obtained the untreated cedar used to create the birdhouses from Al and Nancy Lacrosse, who own Burnette Lumber LLC in Buckley. The Lacrosses donated the lumber not suitable for fencing to George, who repurposed the wood for his birdhouse project.

George Lorenz and Maggie Gipson with Birdhouses
ES Team member Maggie Gipson and George Lorenz withsome of thedonated birdhouses

On May 2nd, the ES team picked up over 200 birdhouses built to accommodate many different species native to Washington State, including the flicker, robin, marsh wren, chickadee, red squirrel, wood duck, and more. The houses completely filled two large truck beds! They will be mounted in several wooded, public use, and natural areas around Auburn.

A huge thank you goes out to George, for paying it forward and giving such a generous donation to the City, one that citizens and animals alike can in enjoy in the future! We'd also like to thank Jack again, because if it weren't for his idea he wouldn't have started this chain reaction of great events!  

This summer, the ES Team will work with other City departments, home owner associations, senior housing communities, and other interested property managers to provide birdhouses for installation in suitable locations around Auburn. For more information about how to obtain a birdhouse for your neighborhood or common area property, please contact Environmental Outreach & Education Lead Christina Jarvis by email or at 253-288-4318.

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Earth Day Assembly at Terminal Park Elementary!

Terminal Park Elementary
Environmental Services Manager Chris
Andersen speaking to TPE students abouthow
we can all do ourpart to protect the Earth

On April 22, 2016 Chris Andersen, Maggie Gipson, and Christina Jarvis from the City of Auburn's Environmental Services (ES) Division were invited to put on an Earth Day assembly at Terminal Park Elementary (TPE). The theme was "Giving Earth a Hand". With this in mind, students gave the ES Team all of their great ideas for ways to care for the environment.

During the event, the team received a range of suggestions from students on things we can all do to help the Earth. Suggestions varied from "don't litter" to "replace coal fired power plants with solar power". As the students were brainstorming a concurrent project was taking place: The ES Team, and several TPE student volunteers began putting together an Earth Day banner for the school that had an image of the Earth and numerous paper hands surrounding it, one to represent each student.

Each student's name and idea for how to care for the environment were written on the hands, with each grade level represented by a different color. The ES Team got a good start on the banner during the assembly, and challenged the students to keep working on it until every student had added their hand.

The students accepted the challenge and sent the City a photo of their completed banner! A huge thank you goes out from the City to the school for allowing our team to come in and interact with its students on Earth Day. Way to go on completing the banner, and keep celebrating Earth Day, every day.

Terminal Parke Elem banner completion photo
Two TPE Students showingoff their completed Earth Day Banner

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April is Earth Month!

There are a variety of events taking place in April to Earth Day Proclamationcelebrate Earth day. Check the City's Earth Month Calendar (PDF) to see which events are around the corner!

April 1 Staff Reusable K-cup Prize Drawing (PDF)
City Staff may send in a photo of themselves using a reusable Keurig cup for a chance to win a prize!
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services
April 4 Staff Electronics Recycling Event (PDF)
     - for questions about this event contact Kathleen Edman, Solid Waste & Recycling Customer Care Specialist
April 8 Auburn Adventist Academy Day of Service
each year the AAA designates two days to volunteering to serve the community. Groups from many different departments get to work with classes from the Academy to complete a variety of projects around the City.
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services
April 12 Arbor Day Celebration
     - for questions about this event email Daryl Faber, Parks & Recreation Director
April 16 King County Spring Residential Recycling Event (PDF)
     - for questions about this event email Kathleen Edman, Solid Waste & Recycling Customer Care Specialist
April 18 Mayoral Earth Day Proclamation
Mayor Nancy Backus proclaimed April 22nd as International Earth Day at the City council meeting on this date.
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services
April 19 Earth Day Movie Night (PDF)
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services
April 20 Natural Yard Care Workshops (PDF)
     - for questions about this event email Chris Thorn, Water Quality Program Coordinator
April 22 Boeing Employee Earth Day Event
The City will participate in an Earth Day informational fair for Boeing employees. This year the theme of the event is storm water and water quality.
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services
April 23 Clean Sweep 2016
Celebrate Earth Day by participating in Auburn's Clean Sweep 2016!
     - for questions about this event contact Julie Krueger, Parks & Recreation Arts and Events Manager
April 25 PSE/TechniArt Energy Efficient Lighting Display (PDF)
     - for questions about this event email Environmental Services

2016 Children's Water Festival

Jenna at Water Festival
ES Team's Jenna Leonard teaching students
about the salmon life cycle, and human
impacts on salmon habitat

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On Wednesday March 23, 2016 Environmental Services, Storm Water, and Water Quality staff led classroom sessions during the annual Children's Water Festival at Green River College. Through six sessions of 25 minute classes, staff was able to interact with more than 800 4th and 5th grade students through collaborative games that taught the values and importance of our freshwater resources.





Jack's Birdhouse

Jack with his bird house
Jack McGee on the AEPboardwalk with his

When 15 year old Thomas Jefferson High School Sophomore Jack McGee was asked to complete a project in service of the community, he got in contact with the City of Auburn. He was inspired to build a bird house for the Auburn Environmental Park (AEP) by his passion for building and the birds he observed in his own yard. Jack and his mother DeNae McGee contacted Mike Miller in Parks and Recreation who referred them to Chris Andersen and Christina Jarvis in Environmental Services. They all agreed that Jack's idea would be an excellent addition to the AEP. Christina provided Jack with the details, including appropriate building materials and specifications for the park's sensitive wetland environment, to create an ideal home for the Marsh Wren, a common permanent resident species in our local wetlands.

Jack completed the house over winter break and notified Chris and Christina that it was ready to be installed at the park. Soon after, the four met at the AEP to scope out the perfect location for the installation. They found a spot located mid-boardwalk that would allow the Marsh Wren safety from predators, refuge from the prevailing wind, and the ability to blend in with the natural environment.

Christina installing Jack's birdhouse
Christina Jarvis installing Jack's birdhouse at
the AEP

Chris and Christina ventured out into the AEP in their hip waders to install the bird house. They secured it to a large fence post, nestled in among the tall grass and cattails, that was a leftover fragment from an old farm fence. Marsh Wrens are known to build their nests atop tall wetland grass, so they should feel right at home in Jack's birdhouse.

The Environmental Services team didn't want to miss the chance to use Jack's contribution as an educational opportunity, so Christina designed an informational sign to provide facts about the Marsh Wren and the purpose behind the selection of natural materials for Jack's

After Christina sent Jack and DeNae photos of the installation, DeNae said of Jack: "to see him showing his aunt and uncle the photos and plaques with pride, goes down as a special moment for me".

Jack's birdhouse and plaques
The View of Jack's birdhouse from the AEP
boardwalk with the recognition plaque and
informational sign

The Environmental Services team will be keeping an eye on Jack's birdhouse this spring in hopes of catching a glimpse of its new residents.
Environmental Services welcomes you to come down to the park to check out Jack's birdhouse and the park's other wonderful features, including the Bird and Wildlife Viewing Tower located on Western Avenue NW. For more information on the park, visit the AEP's City park page.

The Environmental Services team would love to hear your ideas for contributions to help enhance the AEP park and the surrounding natural area. Email us to share your thoughts, or call the City of Auburn Environmental Services main line at: 253-288-4318

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Environmental Services Team goes back to school

Chris and Brian at Green River College Mentor Night
Environmental Services Manager Chris Andersen (right) and Green River College student Brian (left) discuss employment opportunities in the environmental field

On Saturday January 16th 2016, the City's Environmental Services team attended Mentor Night at Green River College; an annual event hosted by the College's student chapter of the Society of American Foresterslinks to external site (SAF). This was the second time that City environmental staff attended the event, and it was even more exciting this year as attendees got to hear all about the College's new Forest Resource Management Bachelor Degree programlinks to external site.

The Mentor Night event allows students to talk with representatives from a wide range of organizations that employ forestry, natural resource, and environmental staff, including timber companies, natural resource consulting firms, and state and local government agencies. The City team gave a presentation describing their role at the City, and some of their day-to-day activities in the areas of environmental protection, natural resource restoration, monitoring and mapping environmental sites, and providing education and technical assistance to the public.

The event was held at the offices of Green River's Natural Resources program at Cedar Hall on the College's main campus, and included fire pit networking and a barbeque dinner, followed by a brief presentation program, and ending with student-led silent auction and raffle fundraisers. Proceeds from both fundraisers go towards funding the Green River SAF chapter's events and activities for the rest of the year. The event turned out to be a great opportunity for professionals and students alike to learn about what others are doing in the natural resources arena. A huge "hats off" from the City Environmental Team to the students and their instructors for putting together such a great event!

For more information about the Green River College Forest Resource Management Bachelor Degree, you can contact program instructors Rob Sjogren or Monica Priebe. For more on the Green River College student chapter of the Society of American Foresters, you can email student SAF Chair Denise Vance.

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Environmental brainstorming and holiday cookies

The Environmental Services team hosts a monthly meeting where City staff gets together to discuss environmental topics. On December 16th, 2015 the theme of the event was brainstorming environmentally friendly practices that can be implemented during the holiday season. Many great practices were shared at the event over milk and cookies. Below is a list of some practices staff came up with.
manatee cookie

  • Plant a tree
  • Compost/Recycle
  • Eat a vegetarian meal
  • Give experiences as gifts
  • Patronize local green businesses
  • Turn down the heat - put on a sweater!
  • Travel by bike, on foot, by bus, or by train
  • Use fewer paper towels - let your hands air dry!
  • Make your gifts, especially from repurposed materials
  • Reuse wrapping materials from previous years, or use other repurposed materials