VOLUNTEERS PLANT MORE THAN 6,400 NATIVE PLANTS TO CELEBRATE GREEN CITY DAYS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Dry, dry summer

sunWe plant hardy, native plants in all of our restoration projects. In addition to playing important roles in our healthy forests, these species evolved to the conditions in the Northwest, and for the most part can thrive with a lot less intensive care than most plants. However, even these tough guys are struggling in this summer’s unusually hot, dry weather.

If you spread wood chip mulch at a volunteer event this spring or winter, right now our plants are saying a giant thank you. Like a natural buffer against extreme conditions, mulch helps slow down evaporation of water from soil, keeping plants wetter, cooler, and happier during dry weather. (Amazingly, mulch also keeps the ground warmer during cold winter days!) In many of our restoration sites, we are also implementing emergency watering measures to help extra-vulnerable new plantings from this past winter to survive the next months.

If you see your plants at home starting to wilt in the heat and dry weather we’ve been having, or worse yet, developing brown, dry tips or leaves, read on. Here are some things you can do to help your plants survive the summer:

Keep close watch: this summer has been much drier than usual, so pay a little extra attention and keep an eye out for signs of drought stress. You may need to water more often, especially if you have new plants that were recently planted. But remember that your neighbors will all be watering their plants more too, so follow the rest of these tips to conserve our water resources. As a bonus, you’ll be watering more effectively for your plants, too.

Water early, or water late: Watering your plants during the heat of the day will cause you to lose a lot to evaporation. Watering in the early morning, or late evening, when the sun is low and air temperatures are cooler, will allow more water to soak into the soil and get to your plants.

Water close to the ground: Instead of spraying high above plants, where it will quickly evaporate into the hot, dry air, point the watering stream as close to the soil as you can. Water slowly to allow it to soak into the soil instead of running off the surface. Soaker hoses, drip-irrigation setups, and tree watering bags can also help a lot.

Water deeply: a lot of water, slightly less often, is better then a little water more often. Water gets deeper down into soil and encourages plants to grow longer, stronger roots.

Think about shade: Very young plants that are having an especially tough time might benefit from partial shade covers made from lightweight cloth, narrow wood lattice, or old window screens.

More mulch! Something to cover the ground, like wood chip mulch, straw, or even gravel can help slow water from evaporating out of the soil. Mulch is your best friend for conserving water and helping your plants at the same time.

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Let us know what works for you, and good luck!

Happy Native Plant Appreciation Week!

NativePlantWeekIntro_(2)Why do native plants make our hearts skip a beat? So many reasons, we’re taking a whole week to tell you about it. Stick with us on the blog this week, as Forterra’s Stewardship staff pens a love letter to the plants that help us do our best work.

To understand the importance of native plants, imagine you go to the supermarket one day, planning to buy all of your basic food and household essentials, but when you walk in all they have is turnips. And you don’t even really like turnips. And then you go in another week and there’s nothing at all.

That’s what it’s like for native wildlife when invasive plants take over a landscape, pushing out the wide array of native plants that called it home: plants that flower and fruit at different times of the year, produce food that can be stored, and even provide shelter. Invasive plants grow so aggressively that eventually, they’re the only thing around. Some wildlife might manage eating invasive blackberries or nesting in ivy, but those plants may only be available for part of the year, and many species may not be able to get by at all.

But wildlife is only one part of it. The key is variety. Our native plants evolved together over hundreds and thousands of years, and they’ve adapted to co-exist so that no single one dominates. Instead they make a beautiful patchwork quilt of trees, shrubs, and smaller plants, each contributing its own bounty to the landscape. Some are great at feeding wildlife, others clean our waterways, keep steep slopes or sand dunes from falling apart, or capture carbon in the atmosphere. Best of all, they can thrive here without needing to be watered or fertilized—they’ve already been doing so for millennia. All of these awesome qualities allow native plants to blanket our wild places and urban jungles with the wide variety of life that is necessary for a healthy and sustainable environment.

Native plants are also a living part of the history of the Northwest. First Nations people depended on the plants that have grown here throughout their history, and their traditional uses reflect a deep knowledge of the natural history of the land and its plants, called ethnobotany. Learning about it is a fascinating way to understand native plants while connecting to the history of this place at the same time.

Throughout the rest of this week, we’ll be focusing on different fun and interesting aspects of native plants each day. Stay tuned and let us know what you think! We hope it inspires you to dig in with us at a volunteer project or plant some native plants in your own yard.

Check out these other posts from Native Plant Appreciation Week :
* The radiant red-flowering currant
* Ode to the western hemlock
* Small, green superheros for salmon
* “Lakes” of blue camas

Green Seattle Partnership recognized as a game changer

We’re excited to announce that the Green Seattle Partnership will be getting this year’s “Community Game Changer” award at Forterra’s Awards Breakfast on May 19th!

group shot with fistsThe Community Game Changer Award recognizes that a sustaining and sustainable renaissance and restoration of our city green spaces require visionaries who think beyond traditional, narrowly defined scopes and missions; collaboration and partnership among a broad coalition of people – from government agencies to organizations; from schools to businesses; and the hands-on hard work and green thumbs of devoted community volunteers. This Forterra award to the Green Seattle Partnership celebrates 10 years of outstanding service and dedication to Seattle’s parks and natural areas—a game-changer in our community that is now a nationally acclaimed and regionally replicated model.

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Within the Partnership as a whole, Forterra is recognizing the contributions of the following standouts: Mayors of Seattle Greg Nichols, Mike McGinn, and Ed Murray for their vision, leadership, and ongoing commitment to green space and the idea that citizens who dig in and get their hands dirty are a very good thing for the health of our communities. Seattle’s Offices of Sustainability and the Environment, Public Utilities, and Parks and Recreation, GSP’s dynamic founding partners, for joining Forterra in launching the Green Seattle Partnership, advancing the importance of place-making, and furthering a ‘living’ project that has now enrolled over 1000 city acres into restoration – and along the way brought together residents of all ages and neighborhoods. Stewards and volunteers for their generosity in giving 722,500 hours in volunteer time to plant 169,000 trees in order to maintain ecologically balanced green spaces and provide for quality of life in the city of Seattle.

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If you would like to attend the breakfast to see the award presentation, click here for more information. If you are a volunteer, put “Green Seattle Partnership” as your table captain.

Celebrate First Creek and the Puget Sound during Salishan Green Days

first creek“Puget Sound Starts Here” – We have all seen this phrase marking our street storm drains. Yet how many of us really know what this means or how true this phrase really is? There are few things quite as beautiful as the Puget Sound and it is one of the many things that make this region such a great place to live. However, beneath the outward beauty is a dirty reality that often goes unseen: Annually, 14 million pounds of toxic chemicals enter Puget Sound waters , and this doesn’t just come from waste discarded directly into the Sound.

The Puget Sound is like a circulatory system, with rivers and creeks moving water to the Sound, like veins move blood to our hearts. This means that the things that go into these creeks and rivers matter later down the system when they reach the Puget Sound – including invasive species that grow along shorelines, garbage carelessly tossed on the ground, and especially the chemicals of urban life that travel through storm water runoff.

May is Puget Sound Starts Here month, with the hopes of encouraging individuals to do their part to keep the Sound healthy. Following this spirit, the Green Tacoma Partnership is hosting the first ever Salishan Green Days. Next week Green Tacoma, in partnership with the Salishan Association, The Tacoma Housing Authority, the City of Tacoma, and Forterra— will be running events focused on the health of First Creek in Tacoma. First Creek is an important storm water fed creek that flows into the Puyallup River, and eventually the Puget Sound. The creek is culturally significant for the Puyallup tribe and was once known to be laden with salmon; it has since been heavily impacted by surrounding development and infested with invasive species.

Salishan Green days will be May 29th– 31st, with different events each day. All events are free, family-friendly, and full of exciting activities:

Thursday May 29 : First Creek and Puget Sound Need Our Help
3pm-5pm
Salishan Family Investment Center (1724 East 44th St, Tacoma, WA)

Learn more about this important community asset through hands-on activities and presentations! Enjoy free snacks and fun giveaways.
Spanish and Russian interpreters provided.

Friday May 30th: Composting, Recycling, and Garbage…Oh My!
3pm-5pm
Salishan Family Investment Center (1724 East 44th St, Tacoma, WA)

Learn the ways of proper recycling and play a little Garbage Bingo. Enjoy free snacks, fun giveaway items, and prizes for our Garbage Bingo winners!  Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese interpreters provided. 

Saturday May 31st : First Creek Restoration and Clean-up Event 
9am-12pm
East T St and East 39th St, Tacoma WA

Join us to help restore First Creek by removing invasive weeds and trash. Stick around after for a light lunch and fun giveaway items. Spanish and Russian interpreters will be provided.

To learn more and register for these events, click here.
Questions?  Contact: Jennifer Chang  jchang@forterra.org

The 6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium – Climate Change and the Urban Forest

Urban Forests in our region are expected to suffer negative impacts due to climate change. At the same time, they play an integral role in mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing temperatures, sequestering carbon, and capturing stormwater runoff from increases in precipitation.   The 6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium, hosted by Plant Amnesty and the University of Washington,  takes an in-depth look at climate change and considers the impact to the urban forests in our region. Learn about the climatic changes our region can expect and strategies that can be used to plan and manage for a healthy and resilient urban forest. Regional experts will discuss the expected changes to the climate, urban forest responses, and what urban foresters and advocates can do to prepare. Presentations will be relevant to urban foresters, landscape professionals, restoration ecologists, tree care professionals, consulting arborists, sustainability professionals, urban planners, landscape designers, landscape architects, municipal managers, and tree advocates.

Here are the details:

What:    6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium
When:  Wednesday, May 28, 9am to 4:30pm
Where:University of Washington Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105
Cost:      $75 per person. Lunches available for $15. Free lunch included for the first 100 registrants.
Contact: urbhort@uw.edu or 206-685-8033.
Register: http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/news/urban-forest/

Presenters include:
Greg McPherson, Research Forester, Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics – Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Jim Robbins, journalist and author of The Man Who Planted Trees
Nick Bond, Washington State Climatologist and Principal Research Scientist for the UW Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
Nancy Rottle, RLA, ASLA, Associate Professor at University of Washington and founding Director of the UW Green Futures Research and Design Lab
Tom Hinckley, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Drew Zwart, Ph.D. Plant Pathology and Physiology, Bartlett Tree Experts
Municipal representatives on putting urban forest-related climate change plans into action

 

 

Photo credit: Stephanie Jeter.

Seattle Parks Rewrites the Story of Memory Loss

Dementia-2-1024x768Yet another reason our urban forests are such an important part of the City: they help improve the lives of people living with dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 68 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s hard to change the statistics regarding memory loss, but Seattle Parks and Recreation is trying to change the memory loss story. By offering programming specifically designed to comfort, engage, and inspire people suffering from memory loss, recreation specialist Mari Becker says, “We are part of the movement to transform what it means to be living with dementia.”

Programming includes going for walks in the parks, watercolor classes, and other activities to be added this spring. Participants really appreciate the social aspect: “Living with memory loss doesn’t have to mean staying at home, feeling isolated,” Becker said. Being outside and experiencing nature is also known to help Alzheimer’s patients, including improving sleep patterns and decreasing aggression.

By volunteering in a forested park, you can help make sure we have healthy, safe, natural public spaces for these kinds of programs, and for everyone in the City. Click here to volunteer with the Green Seattle Partnership.