Dogs trained to sniff out invasive plants

Dogs that have been trained to detect an invasive weed are better at finding the plants than humans, a new report says.

Invasive plant managers often face the tough task of wiping out an entire species from an area. But small or rare plants can elude notice, thwarting efforts at eradication. To track down those pesky hold-outs, researchers suggest, why not recruit dogs? After all, so-called detection dogs have been trained to find everything from land mines to cadavers.


Green Redmond Forest Steward Profile: Jim Downing

Jim Downing, Forest Steward at Grass Lawn Park

Jim is a Forest Steward at Grass Lawn Park, a 28.5-acre multi-use park in Redmond.  He has been active in Redmond’s parks for many years, so when he heard about last year’s Forest Steward Orientation, he was naturally interested.  Jim was also aware that while restoration efforts had begun at Grass Lawn, there was more work to be done.

“There was a restoration effort started a few years ago at Grass Lawn as part of an Eagle Scout project,” Jim said.  “So I enjoy continuing that work.”

Since attending the orientation in 2009, Jim has been an active Forest Steward.  While he mostly works on an individual basis, he occasionally has events at Grass Lawn as well, including an autumn invasive-pull event.

When asked what he enjoys about being a Forest Steward, Jim spoke of the rewarding aspects of restoration.  “It’s hard work, but it’s nice to get outside and be part of the solution to the invasive problem,” he said.  “It’s also interesting to see the change of seasons, and how they affect restoration,” he continued.

Being a Forest Steward also provides unique opportunities to learn about urban ecology.  After coming across a patch of a plant he didn’t recognize, Jim did some research and discovered that it was bittersweet nightshade, a potentially toxic weed on King County’s “Weed of Concern” list.  Jim notified the Parks department, and was able to remove the weed from a significant area.

Thank you for all your work at Grass Lawn, Jim!  We really appreciate your dedication as a Forest Steward.

With many years of experience in ecology, Jim is a natural fit for the Green Redmond Forest Steward Program.  But you don’t need a background in ecology to be a Forest Steward.  A willingness to learn and a commitment to a forested park is all we ask.  To find out how YOU can become a Forest Steward, or to volunteer in one of Redmond’s parks, visit

Tacoma City Council Meeting – Urban Forestry and Mobility Master Plan

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 5:00pm

Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market Street, Tacoma

At this Tuesday’s City Council Meeting, two important environmental issues – conserving our urban forests and trees, and moving people around the city will be addressed.  If you would like to support these issues, please let your city council members know by sending a personal letter, email, phone call or by testifying at the second reading, when the council will vote for or against these policies on Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

Invasion of the Blackberry-Snatchers

Chris leads tool safety demonstration

Recently, I wrote about my experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer, learning how to lead students in restoration events.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Thursday, March 24.  8:30AM.  D-Day.  As I paced under the canopy at Farrel-McWhirter Park in Redmond, waiting for the yellow school bus to pull up, I took a swig from my water bottle and recited in my head what I would say.  I was nervous, definitely.  It was a fear of the unknown, of the understanding that whatever poured out of that bus –”Tweens,” it was rumored– they could tear me apart in a heartbeat, if they wanted to.  Would they want to?”

Click here for the full post.

Become a new Forest Steward in Redmond

The Green Redmond Partnership will host its annual Forest Steward Orientation for new and prospective Forest Stewards on June 12th. Forest Stewards are community volunteers who take on a leadership role in restoration at a park they choose. The Orientation is free and will cover everything you need to get started. No experience necessary; we supply all tools, materials, and support. We will be providing lunch at the orientation, so please let us know if you will be joining us by contacting greenredmond[at]

Hope to see you there!

For more information on the Forest Steward program, visit the Green Redmond Partnership website.

GTP Habitat Stewards Training

Saturday, June 5, 2010 from 9:30am to 3:30pm

Tacoma Nature Center, 1919 S. Tyler St, Tacoma

This is your last chance to sign up to be a Habitat Steward this year!  Come learn how to be a habitat steward for a local urban area near you.  We are looking for dedicated volunteers who want to take a lead in restoration activities occurring throughout Tacoma. Upon completion of the training participants will receive a Habitat Steward Field Guide with lots of tips & Best Management Practices, and also receive continued support from the Green Tacoma Partnership in their restoration efforts.

For more information on the program contact greentacoma[at]