Friends of Seward Park Forest Health Project

For a decade, the Friends of Seward Park’s volunteer forest stewards and scientists have worked to understand the massive sword fern die-off in the old-growth Magnificent Forest. Now we seek funding to support professional scientific research into the die-off and forest health.


Since 2013, volunteer forest stewards and scientists with the Friends of Seward Park have monitored and researched the massive sword fern die-off in Seward Park’s old-growth Magnificent Forest. We have gathered evidence that supports an unknown pathogen as the cause, and not herbivory, drought, or climate change, at least directly. We have investigated how to promote recovery under the dense forest canopy. Similar fern die-offs have since been observed at scattered locations around the Puget Lowland, suggesting a regional problem. The Magnificent Forest also has dying hemlocks, and faces other urban challenges such as invasive species, overuse, and climate change.

Volunteers can only do so much, and we feel professional scientific research is needed to understand and promote forest health. Seward Park is conveniently located to universities and forestry programs that could help research solutions, and serve as a model of citizen-initiated forest science. Our detailed documentation of the natural and human history of the Magnificent Forest and its decline can serve as a baseline for future studies. We hope to raise funds to support graduate or post-doctoral research into the die-off and forest health.

A number of project resources are linked below:

Seward Park Sword Fern Die-Off Blog

What’s Killing Our Sword Ferns?

Sword Fern Disease Transmission Project Report (pdf)

Sword Fern Microbiome Project Preliminary Findings (pdf)

Ecophysiology Report 2018-2019 (pdf)

A Possible Symptom of the Die Off (pdf)

Project News

Upcoming Events:

Web & Social Media:


Send a check

To make a donation by mail, please send a check payable to Seattle Parks Foundation to:

PO Box 3541
Seattle, WA 98124-3541

If your gift is intended for one of our community partners, please add their name in the memo line or with an accompanying note.

A tax receipt will be mailed to you upon receipt of your contribution.

Thank you!

Donate Your Car

Have an old car taking up space in your driveway?

Donate it to Seattle Parks Foundation!

We accept most cars, trucks, trailers, boats, RVs, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, heavy equipment, and other motorized vehicles. All or part of your donation may be tax deductible.

To get started, simply complete the online donation form or call 855.500.7433 or 855.500.RIDE to speak to a representative. You can also read more at

Have an old car taking up space in your driveway?