River Work: Hammering Willow Stakes, Planting With a View & Flagging.

The kids absolutely loved swinging heavy metal mallets to drive steel stakes into the river mud.  They pounded and pounded to create shaft-holes for the live willow stakes that will grow rapidly to fill in the Duwamish with much-needed shrub cover- if the beavers don't mow them down first.  Fortunately we 'planted' a good batch with the Puget Sound Stewards from EarthCorps, to make up for it.

Also fun was flagging the hillside of natives we planted in the sparkling rain, particularly gorgeous covered in drops was the noxious but furry Verbascum thapsus / mullein, which is very satisfying to pop out and chuck on the compost pile.  Codiga Park was bequeathed as a restoration site by the former owners of a dairy farmstead whom still live adjacent.  We had a wide view of the riverbed from the top of the hill and the kids felt like they owned the park, running along secret back trails, discovering views, a scurrying mouse & bird's nest fungus.  Across the river, we could see a native planting we worked on previously, very satisfying indeed.

Noxious   Verbascum thapsus  / mullein  where it belongs.

Noxious Verbascum thapsus / mullein where it belongs.

Noxious but furry   Verbascum thapsus  / mullein .   

Noxious but furry Verbascum thapsus / mullein.

 

Native  Cornus sericea  / red osier dogwood.

Native Cornus sericea / red osier dogwood.

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.

Rock Work on a Bridge Approach, Bear Claws and Ferns Ferns Ferns.

The children worked hard hauling rocks in formation for a bridge approach on a trail at Evans Creek Preserve with the WA Trails Association.  It is enjoyable to return to the site of our original Stewardship Squad event as we approach the Homeschool Stewardship Squad's third year in service!   The number of ferns that we have transplanted measure in the hundreds by now.  Krista, our long-time WTA crew leader, aroused the children's rapt attention when she pointed to a tree showing the scratches of a bear's claw, which to everyone's relief were not fresh.

The children's sense of pride and ownership of the wilderness is evident when their forest play includes racing along trails, climbing trees and also commenting on areas in need of stewardship.  Witnessing their sense of responsibility blossom alongside a carefree, satiating pleasure in nature is a lovely thing.

Thank you to Squad-regular Becky Johnston for her reporting & photography, as the Watters Family was forced to spend the morning at the Tukwila Costco Tire Shop.  (We did explore the store's backyard and found quantities of ivy that could really use some stewardship!)

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!