Free the trees!

“What’s so bad about English ivy?” This is a fairly common question asked by newcomers to the Greenbelt, and the answer is usually preceded by a very deep breath because the list of what’s bad about English ivy is so long.As the name may lead you to believe, English ivy is not native to the United States and it has no natural predators here to keep it in check. In my opinion, the worst thing about ivy is that it out-competes native plants and creates what has been referred to as an “ivy desert,” which is another way of saying…

12/5/09 Morning frost and the physics of leverage

If you think it’s hard to distinguish the native trailing blackberry from the invasive Himalayan blackberry, imagine them both covered in a layer of frost on a cold, bright morning. Luckily, we were working in a slow-growing patch of sun up at Pigeon Point Park and the frost melted away pretty quickly. We have been doing a lot of maintenance up at this site lately, and we spent the morning tending to an area that hadn’t received any love in a few months. Volunteers warmed themselves by pulling out blackberry that was coming up and threatening plants we put in…

Volunteer of the Month- Arthur Larson!

If you have been out to the Greenbelt with us on a weekday during the past couple of months, you have probably worked alongside Arthur, rain or shine. One fateful day at the beginning of October, Arthur came across the Nature Consortium website while looking for urban forest restoration opportunities in his neighborhood of West Seattle. He then e-mailed volunteer@naturec.org with a short message reading “Hi, I can volunteer in the forest tomorrow, Oct. 6th. Where do we meet?” And so began a wonderful relationship between Arthur and the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Nearly every Tuesday and Thursday since, Arthur has…

11-14-09 Party in the Park!

11-14-09 Party in the Park! This morning we discovered the power of positive thinking as everyone on Nature Consortium staff (and I suspect many of our work party participants) had spent the week hoping for a rain-free event. If you have been out to work with us before, perhaps you have heard buphalo say, “There is no bad weather, only different types of good weather.” Normally I agree with that sentiment, but several of our 167 volunteers were knee-high to a grasshopper, and we didn’t want them floating away. Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous (if not a little brisk), but…

Green Seattle Day

Green Seattle Day is an annual city-wide day of service organized by the Green Seattle Partnership. Last Saturday, we at Nature Consortium hosted one of the 16 Green Seattle Day restoration sites. It was a great event! We started off the day digging up blackberry and thistle that had grown back after the initial removal, then moved on to planting. We worked in two areas on the edge of the forest and grassland habitats. Edge habitats typically have the most biodiversity, so we focused our attention here. Here’s an interesting idea from Buphalo: We tried a new way of planting…

10-29-09 Eastside Catholic School

A sea of sixth graders (around 70 students!) from Eastside Catholic School joined us out at Pigeon Point Park today and we unleashed them on the massive blackberry bramble we battled throughout the summer. There was a lot of maintenance to be done and new ground to be gained, and this group powered through both tasks- we estimate about 8,000sq.ft. of maintenance and removal was completed by the end of the work party! Our interns from Big Picture High School were tasked with maintaining the rapidly growing compost piles with pitchforks, and they were asked to play a leadership role…

Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance

Last week we had work parties out at our Allstar site, which is located about a half mile from our office and is bisected by Longfellow Creek. Volunteers found a newt in the grass and Coho salmon were seen making their way upstream- who knew there could be so much wildlife right next to a parking lot? Other people in rain overalls were spotted and they turned out to be employees from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Apparently, there have been a significant number of pre-spawn deaths this fall, and Fish and Wildlife will be out watching the Coho…

10-17-09 Duwamish Alive!

The sky opened up and let loose this morning, as if to let us know that it is, in fact, time to start planting. Despite the impressive downpour, 118 brave and wonderful souls came out to the Duwamish Alive! event that we co-hosted with EarthCorps. This large group of volunteers was split into five different sections and spread out around our 16th and Brandon site, just north of South Seattle Community College. We spent the morning grubbing out Himalayan blackberry to the sounds of Ben Smith on the clarinet and drum, and Ben Yarges on the shakuhachi (Japanese flute). The…

10-13-09 John Hay Elementary

Last week, buphalo went to John Hay Elementary to give a lesson to 4th and 5th graders on water as a limited resource and the effects of pollution on watersheds. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos from that day, but this hands-on lesson included a large tub of water, sponges of various shapes and sizes, and food coloring. From what I understand, this was the highlight of recess as the entire schoolyard was interested in seeing this colorful and informative display of water usage. This lesson was one of several that buphalo will present at John Hay throughout the school…

Non-Sibi Day

The morning was cold and the dark clouds threatened rain, but the sun decided to show itself for the last half of this highly productive work party with alumni from Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. The event was set up as part of Andover’s Non Sibi Day, which according to their website “was established in 2007 to connect alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff through local community service projects or events.” This year, Phillips Academy alumni now living in the greater Seattle area chose to work with Nature Consortium and help out in the greenbelt. During the first half of…

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