A Thorn In Our Side
When we started ET one of our main goals was to connect and inspire friends, family and strangers to get out and enjoy the sanctity of the forest. We believe in a future where our communities can work together to care for our forested parks and natural areas.
It's been precisely one year since we decided to go rogue and plant 57 EvergreenTreez along the banks of the Cedar River. Since last May we've returned to the river a handful of times to continue the restoration project with Forterra NW. We've made new friends along the way and seen the continued growth of this healthy riparian forest. Planting native treez is a big part of forestry management. Another important but less fun practice is invasive species control. The Cedar River has been plagued by an overabundance of jewel weed and blackberries. This time of year the growth of these invasives explodes.
When we arrived at the site it was clear to see that many of the young treez and shrubs we've planted in the last year were being out-competed by the more aggressive and abundant invasives. Removing blackberries takes time, patience and considerable effort. With the right tools and volunteers however, we can really accomplish a lot. We had such an enthusiastic group on Saturday that everyone could feel the energy. The forecast had called for rain but instead we saw abundant sunshine. We turned up the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and rolled up our sleeves. There were 18 of us in attendance, ranging from ages 6 to 56.
Once Maya from Forterra described what weeds to look for, everyone grabbed their tool of choice and headed out into the forest. About half the group decided to attack the blackberries head on. We used shovels to dig out the root balls for several smaller vines. The first monster we removed had vines that were an inch thick and over twenty feet long. The root system was woven around a native fir tree, choking out it's roots. Blackberries are an incredibly stubborn and resilient predator. Although they produce some of the world's most delicious berries, they can be a real threat to the health of a forest. It took us almost 30 minutes to dig out the intricate root ball and free up the surrounding natives.
Now that we were in a groove we felt like it was time to tackle what Alex from Forterra described as a "Legacy Blackberry". The thing looked like a demogorgon from the upside down world. It was completely stunting the growth of a grand fir tree that needed our help. The first step was to use loppers to sever the giant vines climbing upwards to the sky. Once we pulled them off the dying firs' brown branches we were confronted by the giant root ball that showed years of growth.
In order to get this monster out it took 3 men with shovels and pick axes to dig approximately 9 inches into the ground. Once we had it out the whole area just got lighter. The air seemed cleaner and the massive tree that was slowly dying freed up.
The other half of the group spent their time manually removing obnoxious jewel weeds from around the young plants and treez. Jewel weed is easily removed by hand but it grows so abundantly that it takes a lot of time and sets of hands. Luckily everyone who came out on Saturday was super motivated to make an impact on the forest and clear out space for future planting parties. We were able to restore a huge swath of land while having a blast doing it.
Each and every time we've been a part of a restoration event at Ron Regis park the turnout has gotten stronger. Word is starting to spread about the fun and exciting work we're doing with Forterra to help restore our communities forested areas. We have gained a ton of positive momentum along the banks of the Cedar River, just like the cool clean water that flows between them. Being that it was a beautiful spring day and all, we had to cap off our volunteer work party with some tunes and a BBQ along the river. To us, this is what our movement is all about. Bringing people together to work on something bigger than themselves and enjoying every moment.
We're looking forward to continuing our work in Renton on July 27th and also very stoked about what our partnership with Forterra has in store for us as a part of the Green Snoqualmie Partnership. Details to follow! Thanks for your support and, as always, here's to life in the treez and moments like these -->