The Beaver Lodge Sanctuary can be found where 37th Avenue East ends, and provides access to Lake Washington and views of wildlife.
The Beaver Lodge Sanctuary can be found where 37th Avenue East ends, and provides access to Lake Washington and views of wildlife.

After 13 years leading a community effort to make the 37th Avenue East shoreline street end a better habitat for wildlife and natural respite for neighbors and visitors alike, Gene and Liz Brandzel have tapped new stewards for the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary.

“It’s just so tranquil in the middle of a busy city,” said Bruce Bayley. “Gene and his wife have done such a tremendous job.”

Bayley is an agricultural consultant whose work takes him around the globe, while his wife Lauri has spent years providing environmental education, primarily to at-risk youth. They’ve lived in Madison Park for the past decade, and met the Brandzels about a year ago.

“Bruce and Lauri came to pitch in during one of our work parties,” Brandzel said.

The Brandzels will continue to be involved at Beaver Lodge Sanctuary, and there is now a new street-end project underway on East Prospect Street. Brandzel is leading a second work party there on June 15.

“You look at Prospect, and then you look at this, and it’s a done deal,” Bayley said.

Beaver Lodge Sanctuary should only require the usual work parties and occasional added community investment, he said.

That maintenance work will continue to be community driven, and it should be less demanding than agricultural rehabilitation projects Bayley has overseen in “war-torn countries” as part of his day job.

“Here we are in our own backyard,” he said. “We just want to be good neighbors and contribute.”

“And here I feel I have two angels that have fallen from heaven,” Brandzel said.

Bayley said the key to keeping up with the Beaver Lodge Sanctuary will be generational involvement. The Brandzels are in their 80s, and the Bayleys in their 70s; they have an 8-year-old grandson in the neighborhood they hope will join them.

“There’s an interest with McGilvra school and that’s just initiating,” Bayley said.

Brandzel said flags will be put out again this summer, so youth can adopt plants they want to water. Eighty-eight plants were spoken for last year.

“Not only were they all adopted, there were people on a waiting list,” Brandzel said.

The irrigation system installed by a helpful community member likely will only be needed again for this year, Bayley said, and then it can be used for another project like Prospect.

“It’s really a sustainable investment that’s been made here by community members,” he said.