We expanded the edge of the mulched planting area by adding many many loads of wood chips. They need to be applied thickly to be effective. The kids enjoy working at it from the top of the pile to pushing the wheelbarrow and of course dumping. We look forward to returning!
Due to the exceptionally unhealthy air quality, King County Parks and myself decided to cancel Squad. We recognize that wildfire and smoke are a natural part of our PNW ecosystem, we respect and also accept it–our forests and grasslands couldn't be healthy any other way. See you next time!
Squad has worked in many gorgeous locations but the Three Forks Natural Area in Three Forks Park, maintained by King County Parks, has to be one of the prettiest! It was a hot day and our crew leaders did a lovely job of finding us a mostly shaded work site where we pulled weeds from around young native trees, which are protected from destructive animal browsing by little nets.
After lunch we rewarded the kids by finishing early and heading to the awesome swimming hole on the Snoqualmie River, which has a fun mix of shallow, mellow, fun current, island, sun, shade and or course-the view of Mt. Si! The kids spotted a fish hanging out in shallow water which appears to be a type of sculpin. A little internet research turned up several possibilities for freshwater sculpin in King County (see bottom of page).
The helpful King County Parks staff mentioned that their online Park Finder interactive map has useful layers for trails, parks and public spaces to help you locate natural areas to enjoy, have a look!
Squad had another great summer stewardship event at Luther Burbank Park with the Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust. The restoration work has been progressing over the years- continued efforts to remove noxious species will always be needed (birds will always drop blackberry and ivy seeds from berries via their droppings) but a significant plateau of sustainability has been reached in our primary work area under the big Oregon ash tree.
Our task consisted of filling buckets of wood chips and hauling them from the great mulch pile to the restoration site. We sheet mulched by overlapping cardboard and thickly covering it with wood chips to kill weeds and protect growing space for native plants.
Naturally we had a wonderful swim in Lake Washington afterwards!
Pritchard Island Beach is always a fun restoration visit with the kind and knowledgeable Forest Stewards, Kathy & Catherine of the Green Seattle Partnership. The property's past life is fascinating–check out some history of the park area, including how it used to be an island before the construction of the Ballard Locks dropped the level of Lake Washington.
There was wonderful salmon art as well, done by an artist and local school children who reused aluminum beverage containers. The Native American style (sans the bamboo) fish weirs, stood vertically, made for attractive and informative markers. When placed horizontally in the water, the fish swim into them but the current prevents them from exiting.
Unfortunately for the ecologically sensitive restoration efforts, there is now an an active encampment cut out of the shoreline vegetation that has eliminated years of volunteer efforts. There are chopped plants, trash and debris on the water's edge in the restoration zone such that we decided to work elsewhere at the site. We briefly touched on the basic idea that sometimes people disagree about ownership, environmental significance and best uses for particular spaces–that while we may consider this a community natural area, someone else consider's this their personal home and it is a complex issue to be addressed on another occasion. We were there for ecological stewardship and stuck to pulling noxious weeds, climbing trees, water play and spreading mulch.
What a wonderful stewardship event on Riverton Creek with families and employees from the local Target store! A terrific amount of blackberry was cleared-between playing and exploring the creek of course. This revealed even more fun site features (a mini-hill to be queen of!) as well as native alder trees in sore need of rescue from noxious ivy.
The Green Tukwila Partnership is blossoming beautifully, one if its pursuits it is cultivating community volunteerism out in nature, which provides extensive social and environmental benefits- from civic engagement to healthy salmon habitat, outdoor play and natural beauty.
The massive stands of noxious Japanese knotweed on the site are a real threat to environmental health, this invasive species will have to be tackled by professional crews. In the meantime, hardworking volunteers have dug blackberry crowns, hacked noxious holly, pulled bindweed and cut ivy as thick as bottle.
We look forward to continuing the exciting momentum transforming this neat riparian site from a dumping ground and noxious weed gallery to a pocket play park featuring nature-play for the diverse neighborhood as well as high quality habitat. We hope you'll join in!
The SW Queen Anne Greenbelt presented us with leafy native plants, much grown since the last time we’ve seen them. A dedicated group of Forest Stewards, some of whom live nearby, are supported by the Green Seattle Partnership in restoring this neighborhood hillside forest.
We prepared the plantings for summer by working on mulch and weed suppression. Coffee bag burlap sacks were overlapped around plants, particularly the high-value young conifers which grow more slowly. They we covered them with a ring of mulch. The large hillside site creates a good bit of work in hauling mulch from the road access point. The wheelbarrow picks up such a speed that all must clear the bath as it barrels downhill! I’m sure we’ll be back to work on this neat site again.
Starting a restoration project from the very beginning allows you to be astounded at how much progress gets made in only a few work parties! We had a rare event-host cancellation, so I scrambled to arrange a last minute work party on the Riverton Creek (tributary) parcel and it turned out to be a super fun day clearing noxious weeds and playing in the stream.
After just three Green Tukwila Partnership work parties the site is already vastly more accessible and enjoyable. The drying mounds of blackberry, ivy and bindweed are growing tall as the creek access grows wider. The knotweed is on schedule to be tackled by the City's professionally-trained crew this summer and we'll be back to keep on brushing and digging. Shout out to the friendly neighbors who came by to give the kids pretty little begonias as thank-you gifts!
Squad made substantial progress in clearing invasive plants from the creek parcel in Riverton, Tukwila. We cleared right up to and across the creek, much to the children's delight! We love being involved in this new city property's restoration as part of the Green Tukwila Partnership.
Blackberry was hacked back, ivy pulled from trees and knotweed cut out of the way. The virulently invasive knotweed will have to be sprayed/injected by specialists with a riparian approved herbicide as it is too tenacious to dig out. We moved away last year's dead canes to provide better access and bagged up the felled green material so it wouldn't root on site.
In order to keep as much biomass on site as possible we built drying pallets from downed branches and then piled less-virulent weed mass on top so that it may perish thoroughly before being reused onsite as mulch for low-traffic planting areas. For more nearby nature happenings in Tukwila check out the Backyard Wildlife Festival with fun for the whole family on Sat May 12th.
Squad braved the April showers to plant a variety of natives at the north end of Magnuson Park, not far from Lake Washington. Dedicated local forest stewards have worked this region of View Ridge for many years, most recently supported by the Green Seattle Partnership.
We also mulched and cleared a few weeds from around the young plants getting established. The overhanging native big leaf maple / Acer macrophyllum was in lovely full bloom.
We look forward to returning in the summer for Stewardship Squad's work/swim events! The lake will be very inviting after getting tired and grubby doing good work.
It is always fun to work on restoring the old clay pit mine on Cougar Mountain with King County Parks. It was muddy of course, but less dramatically so now that the hydroseed has stabilized the clay somewhat. The gloppy clay was the perfect place for a bear to seemingly leave a clear print for us to find though! Have a look below.
The wet lowlands are a great place to drive live-stakes (fresh sticks) into the ground. A few native plants will grow roots when driven down into the soil–cottonwood and willow are ones we planted, osier dogwood is also one that will root.
Click on the 'clay pit mine' tag at the bottom of the post or at the right to read more about the fascinating history of this site, which created the bricks for Red Square at the UW. There is also an impressive beaver dam on the (closed) road you can take on foot to hike into the overlook of the site, where there is also signage.
Tolt MacDonald Park is getting hundreds of baby trees! King County Parks has cleared significant acreage of noxious blackberries that is now ready for planting. We helped out by putting in young Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars. It was quite the impressive crew coming out in the pouring winter rain! Watching this new forest grow up will be very special for all of us to witness over the years.
It was our first occasion to work on this beautiful public land in Carnation. It has a wonderful bridge over the river, which is also fun to play along. The park has camping and also yurts that can be rented.
The next step for this site is mulching the restoration area to retain water during our dry summers, as well as to repel weeds-particularly all those blackberry seeds that will be threatening to sprout if given the chance. We look forward to returning to help out!
It is neat to work through all of the seasons at Luther Burbank Park with the Mountains to Sound Greenway, from summertime weeding to springtime mulching and autumn planting. We gazed longingly at Lake Washington thinking of our fun summertime swim-after-stewardship events.
In the meantime it was perfect cool, damp planting weather for putting natives in the ground at our longtime restoration site underneath the big Oregon ash tree / Fraxinus latifolia. This site used to be a dairy farm and the concrete stall remnants can still be seen and happily played upon.
The mulch pile was fantastically large and offered up much enjoyable work hauling it over to the planting area in buckets. Teams switched off filling, carrying and planting.
Squad's longtime host, the King Conservation District, hosted us at their unique wetland plant nursery in Renton. To top off an already fun day, Squad got to engage in a brand new activity—a sudsy multi-step glove washing station. It perfectly combined useful work to be proud-of with total soapy chaos. (Biodegradable soap naturally.) It was loved by many-a-youngster and everyone else witnessing their joy.
In order to get our gloves dirty we potted over one hundred bare root Indian plum / osoberry / Oemleria cerasiformis shrubs. Interestingly, this is the only species in the genus Oemleria. It is sometimes grown for ornamental purposes in other countries because of its very early flowers on nearly bare stems.
In addition we mixed-up potting soil to KCD's specs by combining 50% GroCo with 50% mineral-based soil. GroCo is a compost that includes Loop biosolids which is comprised of the organic matter left over from our wast water treatment processes. These screened, cleaned and tested solids are a valuable material as they help to conditions soil, are a never-ending resource and are best recycled.
The blog is taking a mini-break to accommodate some travel, but do enjoy a few photos courtesy of generous guest-photographers who captured Squad's latest stewardship at one of our regular sites, White Center Heights Park, hosted by King County Parks. The weather was extremely soggy but rain is good transplanting weather. We love this park and look forward to coming back, you can read more about it in posts tagged for this park. .
The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust has hosted the Homeschool Stewardship Squad since our early inception. Their covered potting area is an extra deluxe feature in winter and on this occasional we were particularly grateful during the deluge.
Many a bare root mock orange / Philadelphus lewisii were potted up to develop in the nursery for a year before being planted by volunteers out in the Greenway, which stretches from Puget Sound, along I-90 up into the Cascade Mountains. Having numerous friendly, helpful AmeriCorps crew members was terrific.
Look out for more events with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, especially in the summertime when we swim after working!
Squad had a beautiful work day planting native species along the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle's View Ridge neighborhood. Nearby neighbors have worked hard for many years making significant ecological improvements to the forest strips along the heavily-trafficked pathway. Many a passerby stopped to chat about the restoration work and to happily thank us for volunteering.
The Burke-Gilman is a rails to trails path along which coal used to be transported from local mines, among other goods. Now, eager Forest Stewards supported by the Green Seattle Partnership spearhead restoration efforts of their choosing, often near their own homes.
This portion of the trail is recovering from ivy / Hedera helix infestation, the seedlings of which can easily be found in the duff- spread by bird droppings due to the berries having been eaten. We look forward to returning to this site to contribute to the effort!
It was exciting for Squad to be the first stewardship crew working on a new restoration site. The City's recently inaugurated Green Tukwila Partnership is cultivating community volunteer Forest Stewards to take the lead on restoration sites of various sizes around town, and yours truly is proud to be the program's first Forest Steward. Nestled in an old neighborhood, this tributary of Riverton Creek provides rich opportunities for restoration that can benefit the community and also salmon downstream.
Squad has had the good fortune to work with Sound Stewards at Codiga Park and North Wind's Weir. It is wonderful to see the community stewardship model expanding, such as modeled by the great group of neighbors who steward the Duwamish Hill Preserve, where we also enjoy working.
The charming creek curving through the half-parcel is thickly laden with noxious weeds, including blackberry, ivy, laurel, holly and an ominous patch of Japanese knotweed / Polygonum cuspidatum (more detailed information booklet here). Despite our preferences for organic methods, this species requires targeted herbicide injection performed by trained operators.
I am working on a masterplan for the site that will outline circulation options, restoration strategies and possible nature-play opportunities for children; as well as working with the City to identify resources. We look forward to watching this site develop from the very beginning!
In true November fashion it was quite soggy & rainy at Carkeek Park. The kids made the most of it by thoroughly enjoying the mud from head to toe. In between slipping and sliding we pulled and clipped noxious ivy out of a thick patch in the forest.
Fortunately we had a salmon steward alongside some friendly Forest Stewards from the Green Seattle Partnership. We got a good look at some large specimens in Piper's Creek and of course enjoyed the playground as well.
Perhaps summer 2018 we may come back for one of our annual swim and stewardship events!