wetland

More Wetland Planting on Longfellow Creek with KCD.

This time along the Longfellow Creek Trail (Brandon Street Natural Area), we planted wetland grasses in a low, soggy area- Carex obnupta / slough sedge.  A common task at King Conservation Disctrict's wetland plant nursery is to divide such fast-growing species as these, indeed some were so root-bound that stomping, punching and pulling failed to dislodge them from their pots and Adam had to slice the pot (and plant) through with his shovel.  Upon finally freeing them, it was a significant task to loosen up the vigorous root system before planting.

Other species planted under the frosty, sunny alder forest were Symphoricarpos albus / snowberry & Thuja plicata / western red cedar.

Field-Planting the Wetland Species We've Tended in the Nursery.

After working at King Conservation Disctrict's wetland plant nursery for three years, it was thoroughly satisfying to plant some of the species we've tended out in the field along the Longfellow Creek Trail in the Brandon Street Natural Area of West Seattle.  The weather has been amazing this fall, with many sunny days and warm temperatures.  After a bit of downpour, the urban woodland sparkled and the kids enjoyed all its features from climbing cedar and trails to boardwalk and tall saplings to plant.  They alders were much taller than the kids when we potted them up at KCD's nursery in the spring and after growing over the summer, they were larger still- requiring a team of three to get them in the ground.  It was tricky at times to dig holes underneath the roots of mature trees, but it was enjoyable to see the nitrogen-fixing bacteria nodules in the alder roots (photo below).

Alnus rubra  / red alder  roots showing the nodules of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that transform it from a gaseous state into a form usable to the tree, enabling incredibly fast growth and the ability to colonize disturbed areas as a pioneer species.

Alnus rubra / red alder roots showing the nodules of nitrogen-fixing bacteria that transform it from a gaseous state into a form usable to the tree, enabling incredibly fast growth and the ability to colonize disturbed areas as a pioneer species.

They we excited to field-plant the tall alder sapling they had potted-up in the nursery the previous spring.

They we excited to field-plant the tall alder sapling they had potted-up in the nursery the previous spring.

.....choreographed display of exhaustion.

.....choreographed display of exhaustion.

Magnuson Park wetland weeding & blackberry digging. Then, swimming!

Squad worked with the Green Seattle Partnership in maintaing a wetland & buffer area at historic Magnuson Park.  Our Forest Steward, Thomas, shared with us that his neighborhood stewardship group has been tending the park for 18ys.  That was back when the City got serious about redeveloping the former naval base, their group advocated for environmental interests and backed up their opinions with time and labor.  We now can all benefit from a wide trail network and revitalized native habitats, amid the military relics.

We have removed blackberry countless times, but this was our first pulling out noxious reed canary grass / Phalaris arundinacea from a wetland.  We also enjoyed a large paper-wasp nest and of course swimming in the lake!


More weeding & swimming in the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

Lake Washington was at its finest during the height of a hot summer.  Fortunately the large Oregon ash / Fraxinus latifolia trees in the wetland buffer shaded us as we pulled noxious weeds from native plantings.  After working at a leisurely pace in the sultry weather we were joined by even more homeschooling friends for a fun afternoon in the refreshing lake.    

Conspicuous across our work site were thick mats of dead (for the summer) noxious stickyweed / Galium aparine that had clearly been smothering the small native plants back in spring when their growth is rampant.  The dry mats of stringy, grasping stems made clear why it is also known by the name bedstraw and also cleavers, as evident by the grasping round seedballs left all over our clothes and gloves.  Surely you know them.  Indeed it was such small hooks on burrs that inspired the creation of velcro.  Our less-seen native species of Galium include small bedstraw / Galium trifidum & boreal bedstraw / Galium boreale.  They are in the family Rubiaceae, which includes coffee, and supposedly the seeds of G. aparine can be used as a substitute as well as having edible foliage with medicinal properties.



Wetland buffer maintenance at Tukwila Pond Park.

Jessa hacks the noxious  common hawthorn /  Crataegus monogyna  .

Jessa hacks the noxious common hawthorn / Crataegus monogyna.

Hidden away behind the big box stores in Tukwila is a very large pond (a lake really) surrounded by willowy wetlands.  It was improved via the mitigation process, as required in exchange for development on (poor quality) wetlands nearby.  The site used to be agricultural, and indeed the old fence posts can still be seen poking out of the water.  Due to development, creek out-flow was restricted and the area became permanently flooded.  Now it is excellent bird habitat.

Our work with the City of Tukwila was to remove invasive noxious species from the native planting buffer.  I casually mentioned to a couple of passionate children, "This tree is actually an invasive hawthorn species.  It can be harder to removed trees since they're large, sometimes you can girdle them to kill them."  Before I knew it they formed a team to start scraping it away and after an hour's hard work them eventually removed the tree entirely!  Other species we removed were holly, ivy, blackberry & nightshade.

After working, we hiked past abandoned train tracks and through the thick willows to reach the open water.  If funds could be secured, the City would like to create greater public access.  Biologist Sandra Whiting pointed out wetland species along the way and shared the cultural & restoration history of the site.

QUIZ!  What leaves are these?  cocean spray /  Holodiscus discolor,  snowberry /  Symphoricarpos albus,  noxious common hawthorn /  Crataegus monogyna.   

QUIZ!  What leaves are these?

cocean spray / Holodiscus discolor, snowberry / Symphoricarpos albus, noxious common hawthorn / Crataegus monogyna.  

Sandra Whiting teaches us about noxious reed canary grass /  Phalaris arundinacea.

Sandra Whiting teaches us about noxious reed canary grass / Phalaris arundinacea.

Genetic variation - a variegated (noxious!) blackberry seedling.

Genetic variation - a variegated (noxious!) blackberry seedling.

4 noxious sp together!  Ivy, baby blackberry, baby holly & baby bittersweet nightshade /  Solanum dulcamara  (which not the same as deadly nightshade /  Atropa belladonna).

4 noxious sp together!  Ivy, baby blackberry, baby holly & baby bittersweet nightshade / Solanum dulcamara (which not the same as deadly nightshade / Atropa belladonna).

Black cottonwood / populus trichocarpa.

Black cottonwood / populus trichocarpa.

Black cottonwood / populus trichocarpa seed capsules.

Black cottonwood / populus trichocarpa seed capsules.

Sun! Music. Teaming with teens. Wetlands. Planting. And of course tree climbing, with the Nature Consortium

I will be hard-pressed to keep this post from running on and on….. we just had such a wonderful time with the Nature Consortium and the other volunteers that joined us at their public work party at Pigeon Point Park in the West Duwamish Greenbelt.  It was a delight to meet participants from the Service Board, a local non-profit that "mentors teens to conquer personal and cultural challenges through public service and outdoor adventure." (read: civics and snowboarding)  I overheard engrossing conversations between 7yo's and 17yo's, heads industriusly downward like the nodding onions being planted; they covered everything from their favorite authors to "What is the scientific name of plant this plant again?" (Allium cernuum).  Also planted in the meadow and forested wetland was thimbleberry / Rubus parviflorus to the cheery tunes of the Mighty Tiny Band.  Always a pleasure.

Wetland Plant Nursery Work with King Conservation District

The roof kept the rain off but the kids loved finding other ways to get filthy.  We potted up red osier dogwood / Cornus sericea for use in restoration and habitat-enhancement projects.  New potting soil was also mixed-up with a blend suitable for plants that like soggy feet and includes biosolids from the nearby water treatment plant.  As usual, there was hot competition for who got to push the full cart.  King Conservation District offers native plants in exchange for volunteering in their nursery.  Come back in the spring and summer to see the tadpoles and frogs that love the flooded beds.

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