Bring Back the Stoke | 2021 Green Snoqualmie Day
Experiencing the world through endless second hand information is not enough. If we want authenticity, we have to seek it ourselves.
There's nothing more authentic than spending time outdoors. So many of us are caught up and blinded by rules and judgement that we forget to notice the beauty all around us. Living behind a screen is the fastest way to become disconnected from the natural world. The past couple years have been especially rough; living through a pandemic, adjusting our daily lives in more ways than any of us could ever have imagined. The negativity that permeates the airwaves is tangible. People are more divided than they ever have been.
That's why we've continued to spread our roots so that people can see there is still light in the darkness. The treez we've planted since our movement started in 2017 have shown incredible resilience, just like each and every one of us who have weathered the covid storm.
There was a period when quarantine started that we all became shut off from the outside world. None of us knew what the hell was going on. Our monthly forest restoration events came to an abrupt stop, much like every other aspect of our lives. We were all told to "Stay Home."
Eventually we were able to return to small group gatherings, but with no more than five people. The passion that volunteers have shown for their urban forests throughout the pandemic is more than inspiring; it's made me emotional on several occasions. With all the negativity in the world there are still a lot of ways we can adjust our thinking and give back for the greater good. Our hope is that the work we are doing will continue to inspire positive change and connectedness in our community.
There are 3 phases of Forest Restoration: clearing invasives, planting, and maintenance. Our forest restoration projects at Jeanne Hansen Park & Stillwater Bog in Snoqualmie have both reached phase 3; meaning the native evergreen treez are thriving and the threat of them being taken over by invasive plants is really low. A large majority of the 900+ we've planted since '17 have not only survived; they will grow to be mammoth treez that will be around long after we're gone.
This summer we spent time at our restoration sites maintaining the forest by removing pesky blackberries that love to pop up like ads in the middle of YouTube videos. With the help of close friends, family and volunteers from the Snoqualmie community we've really started to notice our efforts pay off. The saplings we planted at our first annual Green Snoqualmie Day in 2018 were about a foot tall. They've shown marked growth at each of our follow up events, but this year has been especially impressive. The Lodgepole Pines, Douglas Firs and Northwest Red Cedars are taller than us now. They grow up so fast :')
Needless to say; the stoke & anticipation for 2021 Green Snoqualmie Day was at an all time high after postponing the 2020 event. This fall has been absolutely gorgeous with it's mix of bright sunny days, vibrant colors and significant early snowfall in the passes. Our group was frothing (fully amped) when we arrived at the Three Forks Natural Area on the banks of the Snoqualmie River.
The day started with a cool, calm feeling in the air. Heavy rain was forecasted most of the week so when the sun started to break from behind the clouds to reveal Mt. Si enshrouded in fog, we started to get really stoked. Volunteers began to arrive around nine; by that time the sun was making a full on effort to break open the sky.
Our event started with a debriefing from Charlie, one of Forterra's Project Managers. He explained the history of the site we'd be planting, and paid homage to the Native Coast Salish Land on which we were working.
Given the restrictions with covid we were limited to a max of 60 volunteers. Not only did nearly everyone who registered show up, everyone was so grateful to be involved in another Green Snoqualmie Day. There were a ton of repeat volunteers; it's becoming really clear that the movement is truly spreading it's roots. After a brief safety talk we had our volunteers split into groups of ten and grab their tools of choice. I led a group planting demo, showing everyone how to untangle root bound treez and pat down the soil around the base.
There's something oddly calming about digging into the Earth and smelling fresh dirt. Unwrapping the rootz of a baby tree and giving it life in the forest has therapeutic effects. You feel deeply connected to the spirit and the energy of the planet. As we walked around the forest trails we could hear people laughing, see them smiling and feel their energy.
The mountains and forests have inspired so much freedom and creativity in our lives; planting treez is our way of giving back. Taking time to stare at Mt. Si in the distance gave off a strong sense of connection to the land around us. Seeing the community come together for such a unifying cause is always fun to be a part of.
After a solid couple hours in the forest, it was amazing to see the amount of native treez and shrubs that were in the ground. One of the most fascinating species we planted was the majestic Garry Oak (Quercus garryana). It's the only native Oak tree of the Pacific Coast; found from Vancouver Island BC to Northern California. They grow very slowly, reaching heights of up to 60 feet with amazing twisting and spiraling branches. They've become increasingly rare since indigenous burning practices to clear invasive plants have slowed over the last century. Their value to the ecosystem can't be overstated; they provide incredibly rich habitat to hundreds of native animals. They also provide great drainage for soil which will allow the Snoqualmie River to continue it's natural flood cycles and support a healthy ecosystem for salmon. We found a baby caterpillar climbing around one of the young oaks, which seemed like a great omen.
By eleven the sun was shining through the clouds and the temperatures had actually gotten close to 70 degrees. The clouds were high and the vibe was higher. In addition to the great oak treez, we also planted a mix of Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Lodgepole Pine and various native shrubs, including snowberries.
Once the planting was complete, the next phase of the project was to mulch the young plants. Mulching is an important step in forest restoration; it provides baby treez with nutrients and protects their roots from rotting. It also blankets them so roots are less susceptible to freezing when the temps start to drop. It inspires me every single time we host an event to see how positive and willing to work the volunteers are. Everyone grabbed homer buckets filled with mulch and dipped off into the forest to spread them around the base of the baby treez.
We were amazed to see how quickly the mulch pile disappeared; the aura of a motivated group is truly a powerful force. Even the youngest volunteers were stoked to finish off the day with a healthy dose of mulching.
The tools were rounded up, the planting was complete and it was time to celebrate with a raffle. Some of the local businesses in Snoqualmie donated swag and gift cards. We were stoked to be able to give away some of our gear as well, including our Spacecraft Beanies, goggle socs, snapback hats and some dope ass stickers.
With the help of 60 close friends, family and community members we were able to plant over 600(!) native treez and shrubs, and spread 2,000+ SQFT of mulch in the forest. It felt great seeing everyone with dirty clothes and tired faces. It was a damn good morning giving back to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
It's a special feeling working with so many positive and caring people in a world that sometimes feels pretty cynical. We're looking forward to continuing our quest to reforest Washington and inspire people to get out and enjoy their forests. After everything that's happened the last couple years, it's time to bring back the stoke.