A Tale of Three Dogs

Botanical musings by Green Everett Partnership Forest Steward, Sara Noland

Riding the bus from my home in Everett to my job in downtown Seattle, I’ve had time to notice how many flowering dogwood trees grace the forested strip along I-5. Spring is the time when our native Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) shows why it is a beloved garden plant as well as a beauty of the forest. Its white blooms glow against the dark backdrop of Douglas fir along the freeway. We’re fortunate in western Washington to have not one but three native “dogs” to enjoy. In addition to the Pacific dogwood tree, there’s a native dogwood shrub (Cornus stolonifera or C. sericea) and a ground cover (C. canadensis).

Native Cornus canadensis. Photo by Nicole Marcotte.

The family Cornaceae has anywhere from 40-plus to over 60 species depending what book you read. Numerous horticultural varieties have been developed over the past century. For an interesting overview I recommend “Dogwoods,” a book by Paul Cappiello and Don Shadow with photos of both our native species and the ornamental types. What the species in this family share are opposite branching; oval to pointed leaves with pronounced veins running parallel to the leaf edge; umbrellas of small yellow or greenish flowers; and berry-like fruit (drupes). Wait—aren’t dogwoods known for large, showy flowers? The “flowers” of C. nuttallii that I see from the freeway (and those of C. canadensis, on a smaller scale) are actually bracts or modified leaves. The true flowers of these species are clustered like a green or yellow button in the center of the bracts. C. stolonifera lacks the modified bracts of the others and instead has more subtle clusters of white flowers.

Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) is a graceful tree also known as western flowering dogwood. It typically occurs singly or in small groups in moist, shady forests west of the Cascades, ranging from Vancouver Island south to California (only small populations are known from east of the Cascades). Tree height is generally 25 to 50 feet. The oval leaves are 3 to 5 inches long, with blossoms (including bracts) up to 6 inches across. While ornamentals of the eastern flowering dogwood type (C. florida) typically have only four bracts, Pacific dogwood often has six or more per bloom. Flowering occurs in spring (this year, late April to mid-May) and sometimes again in fall. Fruits ripen to a red cluster of “berries.” Around 1980 an introduced fungal disease called dogwood anthracnose (Discula destructiva) invaded C. nuttallii populations in Washington. Healthy trees appear able to survive the disease, and there are numerous sources of advice for how to keep a native dogwood tree happy in your yard. Coastal indigenous groups traditionally use Pacific dogwood charcoal for tattooing; the wood for harpoons, knitting needles, and other implements; and the bark for making rope or brewing into a dye or medicinal tonic.

Cornus nuttallii photo by Stan Shebs. Creative Commons license available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Red-osier or red-stem dogwood (Cornus stolonifera or C. sericea) is a hardy shrub, common to moist areas, that’s a superstar among forest stewards. It can form dense thickets over 10 feet tall, and it spreads readily by sending out side branches that root in moist soil. Fortunately it thrives on pruning, and the cut stems can be used for live staking, making it a favorite for restoration projects along streambanks and wetlands. I’ve observed the stems to range from bright red to maroon to greenish. Flower clusters are 2 to 3 inches across and usually appear in the spring around the same time as Pacific dogwood. I’ve watched American robins consume the whitish-blue fruits from the red-osier dogwood in my front yard, and its many-branched habit also creates excellent resting spots for winter flocks of chickadees, juncos, and other small birds. Red-osier dogwood ranges across temperate and higher elevation areas of North America, again favoring moist to seasonally wet areas. Coastal Salish Tribes traditionally use the flexible branches for salmon skewers, basket rims, and fish traps, and the bark can be made into cordage.

Cornus sericea photo by Curtis Clark. Creative Commons license available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en

Our native ground cover dogwood (C. canadensis) is known as bunchberry, bearberry, or other common names. A swath of bunchberry in bloom reminds me of a miniature forest of dogwood trees, only about 10 inches tall but with four showy white bracts against dark green leaves. It is also a wide-ranging species native to Alaska and the northern United States, but unlike red-osier dogwood it’s a rather finicky plant. I’ve tried several times unsuccessfully to establish bunchberry in my garden—I think my space lacks the cool temperatures and highly acidic soil needed to keep bunchberry healthy. Blueberry farmers in Maine have the opposite problem, where bunchberry is a prolific weed in their fields. This is a species I’m always excited to find because it seems to be rather uncommon in our area; when I do find bunchberry it’s usually a small patch in a moist mixed forest. Coast Tribes traditionally eat the bright red fruit of bunchberry with grease or (more recently) sugar.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson. Creative Commons license available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

A last word about bunchberry: Scientists studying the flowers of this plant found its stamens to be like miniature trebuchets capable of catapulting pollen 2.5 cm into the air, which doesn’t sound like much unless you know that’s 10 times the height of the flower. The flower’s explosive opening—in a fraction of a second—is thought to be the fastest movement recorded in any plant. Researchers believe that launching pollen into the air at high speed in this way both propels it into the wind and makes it stick onto visiting insects, both strategies for more successful pollination.


Arno, S.F., and R.P. Hammerly. 2007. Northwest Trees: Identifying and Understanding the Region’s Native Trees. The Mountaineers Books.

Cappiello, P., and D. Shadow. 2005. Dogwoods: The Genus Cornus. Timber Press.

Edwards, J., D. Whitaker, S. Klionsky, and M.J. Laskowski. A record-breaking pollen catapult. Nature, May 12, 2005, p. 164.

Pojar, J., and A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska. B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing.

Whitaker, D.L., L. A. Webster, and J. Edwards. 2007. The biomechanics of Cornus canadensis stamens are ideal for catapulting pollen vertically. Functional Ecology, Vol. 21, No. 2, April 2007, pp. 219-225.

What’s In A Partnership?

Photo by Jim Avery

In our network of 12 Green Cities (and growing), each city’s individual program relies on a network of individuals, organizations, staff, and volunteers. All partners are essential for the success of the project.

Our three newest Green Cities Partnerships in SeaTac, Burien, and DesMoines are forming their networks right now. On-the-ground urban forest stewardship projects plan to start later this year!

So far, Green SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines partners include:

Port of Seattle– In its work, the Port of Seattle has recognized a need for additional support for three of its neighboring cities impacted by airport operations. In our three cities, the Port of Seattle is funding the initiation of the Green Cities Partnerships in Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines through its Airport Community Ecology Fund.

Cities– Each city is assisting in the development of its own Green Cities Urban Forest Enhancement Plan tailored to their mission, vision, messaging, and capacity. City staff are involved in everything from planning to implementation and planting of trees and will continue to support the work of these long-term plans.

Forterra – a regional nonprofit with a mission to act with immediacy to protect, enhance, and steward Washington’s most precious resources—its communities and its landscapes. Forterra’s Green City Partnerships are dedicated to creating healthy, livable cities by stewarding our region’s urban trees, forested parks, and natural areas. Forterra has launched Green City Partnerships in 12 cities across the Puget Sound region. Forterra will guide planning and will help coordinate stewardship activities in SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines.

Other key partners play an essential role in defining the goals of the partnership, volunteering in their community, offering their expertise, and increasing canopy cover by planting trees in their yard or patios:

  • Global to Local /Community Liaisons
  • Highline School District
  • Elected Officials
  • Non-profit and Community Groups
  • Businesses
  • ACE Small Matching Grants Recipients
  • Religious Groups
  • Youth Groups & Clubs
  • Landowners
  • Individuals like YOU

2018 Summit

On march 28th the Green City Partnership communities came together for their annual Summit. This years theme was “Going Beyond Parks”

One of the many highlights of the day was the introduction and welcoming of our three new Green Cities; Des Moines, Burien and Sea Tac . Our total is now up to 12 cites across the Puget Sound.

This was one of our largest Summits with more than 40 participants. The day’s agenda is below along with a link to the PowerPoint presentation.

See full  Agenda Green Cities Summit 2018_final

Follow this link for the presentations: Green Cities Summit 2018 Master

The presentations were divided into four main focus areas:

  1. The state of the Partnership
  2. Private Property: More Trees & Fewer Invasive Plants
  3. Stewarding Public Landscapes: Working Across Different Departments
  4. Funding and Research for Urban Forestry

The State of Partnership

  • 9 active Green Cities
  • 3 counties
  • 1.4 M residents
  • 9,141+ acres of parks and natural open space
  • 3 new Green Cities in 2018 (Des Moines, Sea Tac and Burien)


  • 2,305 acres in restoration
  • 1.23 M hours of volunteerism
  • 274 active Stewards


  • 112,244 volunteer hours
  • 236 New acres in restoration
  • 183,464 native trees, shrubs, and groundcovers installed
  • 41,200 trees in King County

Private Property: More Trees & Fewer Invasive Plants

Adjacent to Parks
Lisa Ciecko, Seattle Parks Department
Elizabeth Walker, King Conservation District

Summary: Pilot project to test the opportunities to engage private landowners adjacent to parks undergoing restoration and minimize the ‘edge’ effects on lands in restoration.

Riparian Restoration
Jasmine Ka, Forterra

Summary: An overview of Forterra’s riparian restoration activities which are currently in four river/creek basins. The goal is to eradicate Knotweed and help re-vegetate riparian areas through voluntary efforts with private landowners.

Residential Tree Programs
Lou Stubecki, Seattle Public Utilities

Summary: An overview and report on the long running residential tree program in Seattle. In 2017 more than 1,000 trees were planted at nearly 500 addresses.

Stewarding Public Landscapes: Working Across Different Departments

Neighborhood Stewards
Nicole Marcotte, Forterra
Teresa Kluver, City of Redmond

Summary: Seeks to build on Green Redmond Habitat Steward program with a more focused approach to recruitment and restoration work by targeting specific neighborhoods.

Tree Ambassadors
Jana Dilley, City of Seattle

 Summary: Provided overview of program, which focuses on engaging volunteers in creating and leading neighborhood tree walks, and participating in tree stewardship activities.

Funding and Research for Urban Forestry

Stormwater Codes to Fund Urban Forestry
Nicole Sanders, City of Snoqualmie
Elizabeth Walker, King Conservation District

Summary: Discussed the process that Snoqualmie undertook to research, write and pass new code language to include funding for trees / urban forest with stormwater utility funds.

Stormwater Values for PNW Trees
Mike Carey, City of Tacoma

Summary: Presented on an upcoming research project that will attempt to provide specific interception and transpiration rates in four of our PNW native trees.

Become a Forest Steward!


Yoyo and Ben

Are you interested in taking your involvement with your local Green City to the next level? If so, consider becoming a Forest Steward! Forest Stewards are super-volunteers who adopt specific sites, where they plan restoration activities and organize work parties. It is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience and training with all aspects of ecological restoration while connecting with your neighbors.

Take it from Sara Noland, an Everett Forest Steward. For her, the role’s perks include the “feeling of accomplishment, being outside, [and] meeting others who care about parks.” She also shares with us these wise words:

Forest restoration is an act of optimism, patience, and love. It takes a lot of time and sweat…but it’s amazing how much a group of volunteers can accomplish in just a few hours working together.


As part of becoming a Forest Steward, most Green Cities host orientations where you can learn the basics of ecological restoration, volunteer management, and the Green Cities program. Attending one of these orientations does not commit you to becoming a Forest Steward – they are open to anyone interested in learning more about the program.

Be sure to attend the orientation in the city that you wish to be active in, as the information presented will be city-specific. See the list below for all upcoming local orientations. We hope to see you there!

Everett – June 2, 9am-12pm at Forest Park. Contact Green Everett!

Kirkland – March 24, 10am-1pm at McAuliffe Park. Sign up here!

Redmond – April 14, 9am-12pm at Farrel-McWhirter Park. Sign up here!

Seattle – Orientation will be held in late summer. In the meantime, check out our general information on becoming a Forest Steward here!

Snoqualmie – March 24, 9am-12pm at the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA & Community Center. Sign up here!


If you don’t see your city on the list, then no orientation has been scheduled yet. But keep an eye out for updates and come volunteer at some of our delightful restoration events this spring!

Green Cities Partnerships 2018

In 2018, the Green Cities program begins its 14th year! Conceived in 2004 by Forterra and launched in the City of Seattle, the Green Cities Partnerships have now grown to nine participating cities. From Everett to Puyallup our efforts seek to help communities regain, restore and reconnect with green spaces and critical landscapes in their community.


There are three goals of the Green Cities Partnership Program:

  • Improve the quality of life, connections to nature, and enhance forest benefits in cities by restoring our forested parks and natural areas
  • Galvanize an informed and active community
  • Ensure long-term sustainable funding and community support

A Green City Partnership brings together local government agencies, community members, businesses, schools, non-profit groups and all who are concerned about a healthy environment.

The partnership creates and implements community-based stewardship of our land resources. The results are a land base that provides maximum ecosystem benefits. These benefits include reduction of flooding, mitigation of climate change, increased wildlife and biodiversity, improved air quality and cleaner water for humans and salmon.

Forterra’s Green City Partnership provides a comprehensive program for cities to address the growing needs for green infrastructure and a way to help implement their Comprehensive Plan, Stormwater Management activities, Park and Recreation Plans and other efforts that directly impact the sustainability and livability of their community.

Underling all of our efforts is the desire to connect Green Cities to one another (e.g., fill in the Gaps on the map). Creating this dynamic and interconnected series of Green Cities will help to reverse some of our past mistakes, bring communities closer together and provide more opportunities for community members to get outdoors and be in nature.

The People

The foundation of the Green Cities Program are the people. Through community engagement and volunteerism, Green Cities has involved more than 77,000 individuals throughout our Puget Sound. These volunteers have provided more than 1.1 million volunteer hours in our local parks and public green spaces.

There are many entities who rely on volunteers to accomplish goals of restoration, but the Green cities program is unique in that we engage volunteers to complete the work, but we also help them to be more connected to one another and to nature. Whether it is a college biology class achieving their service hours or a business providing volunteers for an MLK Day of service, there is never a shortage of dedicated volunteers.  We see our program as going beyond pulling ivy or planting new cedar trees. Of course the program’s goal is make the experience of volunteering rewarding and informative, but we hope individuals come away from the experience with and understanding of the “why” this work is important. Tying it to the ‘big’ picture always receives a positive response from volunteers and helps them feel connected to nature and to their community. We all want to feel valued and connected.

Another unique element of our program is that many sites have regular and ongoing work parties. Metro Parks Tacoma for instance has several sites with monthly volunteer events. This provides volunteers an opportunity to see positive change on the landscape that is a direct result of their work over the course of a season, 5 years or event 20 years. It provides a way to more deeply engage in the effort.  It also helps them connect and understand to the difficulty of this work.

Finally, there are numerous resources online for volunteers to learn more about the Partnership (e.g., what is the best ways to remove English Ivy from trees or what is the Target Habitat for a certain site). This all provides and interactive environment where volunteers can engage as much or as little as they desire.


The Partnership
Dedicated city staff, non-profit organizations, colleges, local K-12 schools, numerous businesses, conservation districts, Port of Seattle, the Port of Tacoma and many more have all come together to ensure that there is a sustained commitment to the long-term health of critical landscapes across the Puget Sound region.  Currently, nine cities participate in the Green Cities Program and include: Seattle, Everett, Kirkland, Redmond, Snoqualmie, Tukwila, Kent, Puyallup and Tacoma.

Each of these cities have developed a 20-Year Plan that provides the vision, goals and implementation strategies to restore a certain amount of acres in their community. This 20-year Plan also provides cost estimates, maps of all lands and condition of those lands, as well as a structure to establish a Habitat Steward Program. The 20-Year Plan provides the key guiding document to achieve the desired results.


Land Restoration Goals and Activity
Together, our collective goal stands at approximately 9,000 acres of land to be enrolled in restoration by 2037. We are about 25% completed, with a little more than 2,000 acres enrolled in restoration activities.  The big disclaimer is that every few years we add another Green City and the targets grow. In 2018, we are already confirmed to add the cities of Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines. Only time will tell how many acres these cities will seek to enroll. Do you care about healthy green spaces in your community? Do you want to be the next Green City? Contact us.



Native plants To restore these 2,000 acres, partners have planted more than 900,000 native plants. Our goal is to source plants locally and use plant palettes that help us mimic the lowland Puget Sound forest or other target habitats appropriate for the area. From small ground covers like Trillium to the mighty Western Red Cedar, our goal is to reintroduce the diversity of species and structure that have been lost in recent decades.


Invasive To get to a point where these planting can occur the remove of large areas of invasive plants is necessary. Here in the Puget Sound we deal with countless invasive species, seemingly more than any other part of the country. The most pervasive plants include English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom. Others include; Knotweed, Reed Canary Grass, Archangel, Thistle, Creeping buttercup, Policemen’s Helmet, English Holly, European Hawthorne, Garlic Mustard, Butterfly Bush, Morning Glory, Herb Robert, Poison Hemlock and many more.


Over the years we have develop standards or Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that guide the removal of invasive plants and provide guidance on how to create a planting plan and how to install new native plants.

Why do we do the work we do


By now everybody has committed to memory the list of ecosystem services provided by a healthy environment, from wildlife biodiversity to reduced asthma rates in children, a healthy environment is critical to our well-being.  

The ability or act of providing a service (e.g., clean air) by elements of nature is called ecosystem services. As we become more in tune with our environment and gather a deeper understanding of her functions, systems and outputs we can learn how to work within those parameters. On a very simple level we try to mimic nature and keep some semblance of her dynamics. This is the primary activity of the Green Cities Partnerships. However, this can be difficult because the only constant in nature is constant change. Whether it is a natural disturbance like a lightning strike that opens up the canopy in a forest condition or a man-made disturbance like logging, the natural world is constantly adjusting and readjusting itself. This is often called dynamic equilibrium. The key factors in dynamic equilibrium is how intense and frequent the disturbance is, and the ability of natural elements to recover from this disturbance.

In the urban landscape we are faced with many additional challenges than disturbance as part of the dynamic equilibrium process. One of the biggest challenges is the edge effect. Almost all of our natural areas and green spaces are surrounded by private property. All of these properties, private and public, usually have large areas of invasive plants like Scotch Broom, Himalayan Blackberry or English Ivy. All three of these invasive plants are easily spread by seed. So even though we can spend hours and hours removing these invasive plants from our sites, the wind, bird dispersal or other wildlife will quickly drop seeds back onto our restoration site. It has been determined that a Scotch Broom seed can remain dormant in soil for 100 years, just waiting for an opportunity to sprout. This makes long-term maintenance in the urban landscape mandatory for all restoration work. We can never truly walk away from a property and say it is complete. We can, hopefully get to a state of dynamic equilibrium where the native habitat is healthy enough to recover from most disturbances and only on an infrequent basis (e.g., every 5 years) will we have to return for minor treatments. We will dive more into the state and equilibrium of habitat in later blogs

Habitat Stewards
Simply stated, Habitat Stewards are volunteer leaders in their community. Unique to the Green Cities Partnership is our dedication to training and involving our community members for leadership roles. The Habitat Steward Program is for those volunteers who want to go beyond the three hour work party and take on all aspects of the restoration of specific sites. In other words these habitat Stewards adopt a site and guide all management aspects. Habitat Stewards are trained in how to run an event, conduct outreach, technical aspects of restoration, speaking in front of a groups, and all tracking protocols.


Currently, there are 220 Habitat Stewards in the nine Green Cities.  Many Green Cities hold orientations and initial trainings annually, others will do a training as needed. Contact us to find out more about the Green Cities Habitat Steward Program.

Please come back soon to read more blogs, in the coming months we will blog about specific plants and wildlife, introduce you to target Habitats and highlight some of our work across the Green Cities network.


Across the Puget Sound more than 2,200 volunteers converged at area parks and green spaces from October 7 to November 21 to celebrate Green City Days. Now boasting nine cities, this annual event connects community members across all age, ethnic and economic backgrounds for a common goal—helping to keep our forested parks and green spaces environmentally healthy. This year participation was up 47% and plantings up 120%!

Cumulatively, these events planted more than 15,000 native plants. This work was completed by 2,221 volunteers who clocked a combined total of 6,663 volunteer service hours. Volunteers came from all over the region and represented high school Key Clubs, elementary school students, area colleges and businesses including REI, Boeing, HSBC, CLIF Bar, Patagonia, and Pacifica Law among others.

Volunteers expressed many positive experiences. “A fun and very rewarding morning. Times like this I am so proud to live in this community,” said a Green Everett Volunteer.

“It pulls me into nature while educating me about what I’m seeing, planting or pulling,” said Green Kent Volunteer.

“I can bring a friend, meet new friends and have fun while making a positive change in my community,” said a Green Puyallup Volunteer.

Green City Day events were made possible with support from city staff, volunteer Forest Stewards and more than 20 non-profit organizations, including Forterra, EarthCorps, Mountains to Sound Greenway, Student Conservation Association, Sound Salmon Solutions, Tilth Alliance, local Audubon chapters, and others.  A special thanks for grants from HSBC Bank USA, N.A, Patagonia, and REI to support Green City Days.

Access to healthy parks is vital to our cities and quality of life. Green Cities Days are signature events for the Green City Partnerships representing the cities of Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett, Tukwila, Snoqualmie, Kent, Puyallup and Tacoma. Combined, these cities have a goal to restore 9,000 acres of forested parks and natural areas while building community through stewardship.

Each Green City has partnered with Forterra to established a community-based restoration program that brings together local non-profits, community groups, city agencies, neighborhood leaders, and local businesses to support healthy urban green spaces for the future of our region.  For more information about the Green City Partnership, visit Forterra.


 Photo by Jim Avery 

Green Snoqualmie Day: Kicking off the Green City Days on October 7, the City of Snoqualmie hosted their first-ever Green Snoqualmie Day. With the help of 60 community volunteers, the City of Snoqualmie, Forterra, and Mountains to Sound Greenway, more than 650 native plants were added to improve the forest health at Snoqualmie Point Park and Meadowbrook Slough.

  Photo by Espresso Buzz Photography

Green Tukwila Day: The City of Tukwila hosted their first Green Tukwila Day on October 14 by removing invasive English Ivy and planting 135 native plants at Tukwila Park. Forty four community members participated, ensuring a successful beginning to this important partnership.

 Photo by Jefferson Mok

Green Tacoma Day: On October 14, more than 304 volunteers planted 190 native trees and shrubs, including nearly 60 trees at Reed Elementary School. Volunteers also removed 3,350 square feet of invasive plants and spread 15 cubic yards of mulch across 14 restoration sites.

Photo by Matt Mega 

Green Kent Day: Held October 28 at the Puget Power Trail near the Green River Natural Area, a total of 120 volunteers planted more than 900 native plants, creating a forested buffer between the trail and the natural area. After the event volunteers from Farrington Court provided a complementary lunch.

Photo by Jim Avery

Green Everett Day: Raising the bar, Green Everett was held on October 28 and saw almost a doubling of volunteers from last year. A total of 143 community members planting 790 natives plants at Forest Park.

Green Redmond Day: Also held on October 28, Green Redmond day attracted 94 community members who planted 1,135 native plants at three local parks. This was almost 500 more plants than last year, all helping to ensure Perrigo Park, Viewpoint Open Space and Westside Park remain gems of the city.

Photo by Jefferson Mok

Green Puyallup Day: The third annual Green Puyallup Day was held on November 4. This year the event was again held at Silver Creek, Deadman’s Pond and Meeker Creek. Nearly 60 volunteers planted 100 trees and 40 native shrubs, while tackling stubborn invasive blackberry and spreading more than 10 cubic yards of mulch.

Green Seattle Day: Shattering all expectations, Green Seattle Day, held on November 4, attracted 1,258 volunteers, an increase of 300 participants from 2016. Even more astonishing was the 10,000 native trees and shrubs that were planted, representing an almost 60% increase over 2016. Volunteers worked at 22 different parks and achieved all of this success in 3 hours.

Green Kirkland Day: Last but not least, Green Kirkland Day was held on November 18. A total of 184 volunteers helped to plant more than 1,225 native plants, remove invasive plants and spread more than 18 cubic yards of mulch.



More than 1,500 volunteers converged at area parks and natural areas during the months of October and November for Green City Day celebrations across the Puget Sound area. Seven cities participated.  This year marked two milestones: the oldest Green City, Seattle, is celebrating its 11th anniversary and, Tukwila and Snoqualmie officially launched their programs.

A total of 6,459 native plants were planted, 49,395 square feet of invasive plant material was removed and 45 cubic yards of mulch was spread. This work was completed by 1,575 volunteers who clocked a combined total of 4,734 volunteer service hours. Volunteers came from all over the region and represented high school Key Clubs, Boy Scouts of America, elementary school students, area colleges and businesses including eBay, Homegrown, Brooks, REI and Boeing to name just a few.

Green Cities Days are part of the Green City Partnerships representing the cities of Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett, Tukwila, Snoqualmie, Kent, Puyallup and Tacoma. These cities have a goal to restore 9,000 acres of forested parks and natural areas while building community through stewardship.

“Our goals are for a sustainable, volunteer led program where our natural open spaces are improved and healthy, with invasive species eradicated from those areas and thriving native trees and shrubs have reassumed a dominate role in our forest composition,” says Chris Beale of the City of Puyallup.

Restored forested parks and natural areas mitigate urban flooding, helps clean air and water resources, provides home for wildlife and allows people to connect with nature.

For more information about the Green City Partnership, visit the partnership’s founding organization Forterra.

Green Tacoma Day: Held October 1 at 9 sites across the City. Green Tacoma had 130 volunteers who planted 80 native trees and shrubs, including several large trees at Titlow Park. Volunteers also removed 2,500 square feet of invasive plants and spread 25 cubic yards of mulch.


Green Kent Day: Held October 22 at Morrill Meadows Park. With beautiful sunshine as the backdrop, 123 volunteers removed more than 32,000 square feet of invasive plants, planted 102 native shrubs and spread more than 20 cubic yards of mulch.


Green Everett Day: Postponed for one week due to the predicted storm of the century, Green Everett Day was held on October 22 and boasted 80 volunteers who planted 477 native plants and spread more than 300 cubic yards of mulch.


Green Redmond Day: The event on October 29 attracted 109 volunteers at three parks. While the wind and rain tried to dampen spirits, students from John James Audubon Elementary School and other volunteers planted 708 native plants.


Green Kirkland Day: Even wind and rain could not stop the 115 dedicated volunteers at Green Kirkland Day. Held on November 12 at 4 city parks across Kirkland, volunteers removed 3,232 square feet of invasive plants and planted 630 native plants.  Lynn Zwaagstra, Kirkland Parks and Community Services Director, reflected on how the “work by volunteers shows a tangible impact.”


Green Puyallup Day: The second annual Green Puyallup Day was held on November 5.  This year the event expanded from 1 site to 3 with more than 60 volunteers removing invasive plants and planting native trees and shrubs. A total of 11,000 square feet of invasive blackberry was removed and 170 native plants were added to the understory habitat at Meeker and Silver creeks.


Green Seattle Day: Held on November 12 across 15 sites, Green Seattle Day attracted 958 participants. More than 300 volunteers descended on Camp Long.  Over the course of 3 hours, volunteers planted an amazing 4,392 native plants.


In addition to the official Green City Days above, the cities of Snoqualmie and Tukwila held special inaugural events to kick off their Green City Partnerships.

Green Tukwila and Duwamish Alive: Working side by side with the Duwamish Alive Coalition, two sites in Tukwila attracted 158 volunteers and planted more than 1,000 native plants. More than 5,000 square feet of invasive plants was also removed and 100 cubic yards of mulch was spread.

In Snoqualmie two restoration events were held that attracted 46 volunteers, removed 3,600 square feet of invasive plants, planted 54 native plants and spread 300 cubic yards of mulch.