Keep Planting | 2023 Green Snoqualmie Day
Green Snoqualmie Day has always been special for the ET crew. When we planted our first 57 evergreen treez at the Cedar River in 2017, we had no idea that we'd soon be helping lead groups of that number in large scale planting events. We started with wheelbarrows full of Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedars. While planting with homies that day, we met someone who worked for the City of Renton Parks department. They asked us who we were affiliated with and were shocked to hear that we were out there doing it for fun. "The Rogue Tree Planting Movement."
We became forest stewards as part of the Green Snoqualmie Partnership in 2018. Doing so has allowed us to spread our roots while hosting events at Jeanne Hansen Park, Snoqualmie Ridge Community Park, Stillwater Bog and Three Forks Natural Area. We've planted thousands of native treez and removed thousands of square feet of invasive plants that hinder their growth. We've worked with amazing people from the Snoqualmie Tribe, Forterra NW, Mountains to Sound Greenway, Cascadia Splitfest and the City of Snoqualmie.
Fast forward to October 2023 and we couldn't be happier with the turnout and support from Saturday's event. We planted another 400 native evergreen treez with the help of nearly 60 volunteers in the vibrant October sunshine.
The morning started early, before the sunrise. When I woke up I knew it was going to be a great day. The crescent moon was shining among the last visible stars of the night. There was a calm feeling in the air; the stillness of an early fall morning is hard to beat. We drove to the planting site at Three Forks Natural area, along the banks of the Snoqualmie River in the shadow of Mt. Si.
We hosted Green Snoqualmie Day here in 2021 as well as Cascadia Splitfest in March of this year. It's a beautiful, expansive green space that has been stewarded by the Native Coast Salish People since time immemorial. Their partnership with the City of Snoqualmie and Mountains to Sound Greenway trust is what makes our work possible.
We met with Snoqualmie's Urban Forester Phil Bennett, and as we waited for volunteers to arrive we spoke about the progress we've made and the excitement of seeing the massive growth in the treez that we've planted the last six years. It's been incredibly rewarding to see them grow from knee-high saplings to well over our heads. The best part is that they're really just getting started : )
Around 9:15, Phil gave a brief talk to the gathered group about what we're working to achieve and paid homage to the Ancestral Snoqualmie Tribe. He gave a planting demo in which he showed the group how to dig a proper hole and loosen the roots so the young tree can thrive. Poindexter was the name he chose for the Pine, lol.
After a brief Q&A session we broke off into smaller groups to tackle the massive project at hand. Although the goal was to plant all 400 treez, it was made clear that the most important thing was to focus on quality plantings rather than quantity. The survival rate increases dramatically when the roots are unbound & air pockets around the tree are stamped down. Everyone was in a great mood as the warm autumn light filtered through the forest canopy while we grabbed our tools.
For me, planting treez started as a fun way to give back and spend time outside with friends. While those things still ring true, I've found the experience to become highly meditative the last couple years. I ditched the gloves I used to wear so I could loosen the roots and dig into the soil with my bare hands. I felt a deep connection to the land and all the people around me. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude in this moment.
Many hands make for light work, and it was clear by 11:30 am that we were going to reach our goal of planting all 400 treez effectively. Everyone was having such a great time and it showed. Connecting with new people in the community is one of my favorite parts about hosting these events. I'm always stoked to learn people's reasons for coming out. The overarching sentiment is that they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
After the treez were planted, the next step was to add mulch around their bases so they have nutrients and warmth to protect their roots during the rainy season. We grabbed wheelbarrows and spread 1-2 homer buckets of mulch in donut shaped rings around each sapling.
The final step was to add cages around the treez in order to prevent elk and deer from munching on them. That was a satisfying experience in itself. Hammering wooden stakes into the ground and using them to secure the cylindrical cages made the project feel complete.
We gathered all the tools and made our way back to the tool trailer. I stopped and took a moment to take it all in. I was amazed to see the work everyone accomplished! Joey flew his drone high into the autumn sky and captured an amazing group shot of all the volunteers before people made their way off into the afternoon sun.
By the time we wrapped up it was 12:30 and we were covered in dirt. This was the first time a planting event was actually warm enough to jump in the river which happens to be right there so we had to go for it! We swung through Snoqualmie Brewing afterwards for a toast and debriefing. I'm so proud of how far the Rogue Tree Planting Movement has come and I'm looking forward to our continued growth. Join us at the next planting event on November 25th as we continue to celebrate Life in the Treez and Moments like These-->