Green Snoqualmie x EvergreenTreez
When we planted 57 treez with a small group of friends at the Cedar River last May, none of us were thinking that someday we'd be leading members of our community in a concerted effort to restore the forests we love. We were simply planting a seed and hoping that our rootz would spread. Fast forward a little over a year later and we're now doing what we set out to do as Forest Stewards in the Green Snoqualmie Partnership.
When we came back to water and check on our baby treez last July, we fortuitously met a group of volunteers who were restoring that very same forest. We found out that they were working with Forterra Northwest; Washington's largest land conservation agency.
When they asked us who we were working with or if we had a permit to plant all those treez, we didn't really have an answer. Until it dawned on us. We were with the EvergreenTreez movement. We were doing something that made us happy and brought friends together. Since that auspicious day, our rootz have definitely been spreading. We were able to partner with Forterra to ensure that we can plant a native tree in Washington for every limited edition piece of gear we sell. We also decided that we want to donate 7% of our total proceeds to their restoration and conservation efforts. This is our way of giving back to the mountains and forests that have inspired so much freedom and creativity in our lives.
Saturday was a momentous day for our crew. ET's dream of connecting and educating our community is becoming more of a reality. We hosted our first event as stewards of the Green Snoqualmie Partnership at Jeanne Hansen Park! It's a beautiful green space with large conifers, trails and epic views of Mount Rainier. Our goal as forest stewards is to preserve and protect our natural spaces. It's critical that we do; the forest provides wildlife with high value habitat. It also serves as a reprieve for residents and visitors to experience nature. The shared vision of the Green Snoqualmie Partnership is the growth of sustainable forested parks with lush, multi-aged canopies of treez. Unfortunately, some of the older treez in this park are nearing the end of their lives. Invasive plants like Himalayan blackberries and Stinky Bob weed (Geranium Robertianum) choke the native plants and make it difficult for them to grow. The first step is to remove these invasive plants so that we can restore the forest.
Saturday morning, Cascade FC was hosting a soccer tournament that made parking nearly impossible. We were a little nervous that volunteers would be unable to find us as we stood around the snack table. Our friend Maya with Forterra provided donut holes and coffee from a local espresso. We brought out some apples and Capri Sun while we waited for 9 AM to roll around. Luckily, almost all of the people who had RSVP'd were able to make their way to us by 9:15. As everyone began to sign in, Joey and I were going over what we wanted to say in our heads. Maya kicked off the event by introducing the Green Snoqualmie Partnership and who it's comprised of. She went on to talk about the relationship between community leaders, local businesses and forest lovers who make the partnership special. We introduced ourselves as ET and Joey gave his briefing and safety talk to the volunteers. Everyone grabbed their tool of choice and we hoofed it back to the restoration site.
This was our first time speaking in front of a large group of volunteers, and the feeling was exhilarating. I gave them a brief description of blackberry removal and showed them how to dig in to tackle the pesky roots. I also showed them where we'd be starting our compost pile. The area we were clearing was a mess of vines, roots and debris from fallen treez. Luckily our group was anxious to help, and they really seemed to feed off each other's energy. There were 26 volunteers in total, ranging from age 4 to 64. They were made up of families, friends and business groups alike. Joey hooked up the tunes and everyone rolled up their sleeves.
A few of us started grabbing the fallen tree trunks. Phil Bennett from the PNW Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture used a chainsaw to chop them down into manageable chunks. It felt like we were playing grown-up Lincoln Logs as we stacked them off to the side; forming a formidable compost pile. Once we had the initial frame down, we were able to start piling up weeds and blackberry vines. The area the city was hoping we could clear was around 2,000 Square Feet. We were able to fit all of that debris onto the one compost pile. It was 4 feet wide, 5 feet tall and nearly 40 feet long by the time we were done with that zone.
As we looked around, people were dancing, digging and connecting with each other. We had already cleared a HUGE swath of land for future planting and we realized it had only been an hour. With two full hours left we decided to delve further into the forest. There really is something to be said for the power of community, and this group was comprised of rock stars. The youngest volunteers were busy pulling Stinky Bob and disposing of it in an oversized Hefty bag. Others were focused on removing giant root balls that supported gnarly Himalayan blackberries.
With all the blackberry bushes that were being uprooted, we needed to build more compost piles. In addition to the initial behemoth we built as a team, we created four others on top of the hill at our restoration site. Ideally, we want to keep every part of the blackberry vines and roots from touching the ground. They are an incredibly resilient plant that can re-sprout simply by touching the Earth. In honor of the Stranger Things 3 premiere this Fourth of July, this is what the spirited blackberry reminds us of -->
This is the evolution of the compost pile:
All in all we cleared nearly 5,000 Square Feet of space for future planting. That's more than double what we anticipated. That's 5,000 SQFT of habitat for young treez and shrubs that we'll be planting this Fall. This is just a small portion of what we were able to accomplish -->
After we were all good and sweaty, our fellow Forest Steward, Jason, led the cheerful debriefing. This was our inaugural event, and we were completely blown away by the turnout and interest it garnered. It was truly special. We couldn't have asked for a more spirited and helpful group of volunteers. ET looks forward to seeing you all again and meeting more of your friends and family in the Snoqualmie community!
One of the traditions we started last year at Green Snoqualmie Day is breaking out the grill and hosting a BBQ for volunteers. We've been grilling in parking lots since we were teaching snowboarding back in the day. We cooked brats (and veggie dogs) at the Cedar River during our last work party in Renton. Unfortunately we were unable to do so this time because of the soccer tournament, but rest assured. ET BBQ's will be a fun part of the volunteer experience moving forward. Starting with our next event, we'll be celebrating our hard work with a cookout under the shelter at Jeanne Hansen Park at noon. This time we decided to toast to our new partnership with a Sippin' Pretty Hazy and a Snoqualmie Maybe Pale from No Boat Brewing across the street.
We really feel like we're just getting started, and the connections we made at Jeanne Hansen Park mean a lot to us. The fact that we're able to support this cause in the heart of the Forest we call home is a total blessing. If you have time, please check out our events page and mark your calendars for August 3, Sept 7 and Green Snoqualmie Day on October 5th! We'll be continuing Phase 1 of our restoration this summer. That work includes more of what is detailed above as well as further preparations for fall planting season. We are honored and humbled to be a part of a movement that is so much bigger than ourselves. Here's to Life in the Treez and Moments like These -->