The Monkey’s Voyage


Alan de Queiroz
Basic Books, 2014

How do species disperse – how do they get from one place to another? This is the kind of question that appears to have a ready answer, but experts can spend a lifetime debating. It’s easy to see birds flying in their migrations, or mammals moving across continents. How did trees get across oceans? How did amphibians get to islands? How did monkeys get to South America? The answer to these questions not only has ramifications to evolution, but to the history of life on Earth. And scientists have been debating them since the beginning of the study of evolution.

Although perplexing and difficult to imagine, before we knew about plate tectonics, ocean crossings were the only possible choice. Darwin did some experiments in seed viability, and a lot of people talked about land bridges that no longer existed.

As we learned more about plate tectonics and the deep past of the Earth, it became obvious that most of the dispersal happened by species being isolated by Gondwana (the supercontinent) breaking up. No ocean crossings necessary. Soon enough, the idea of life as a relic of the Gondwanan break up was pervasive to the point of becoming a truism. Ocean crossings were dismissed as almost magical. The incompleteness of the fossil record was no help: the oldest fossil of a species only tells us how old a species might be; it could have been around for a long time before the unlikely set of events that create fossils happened.

Now, scientists studying the question of dispersal use DNA analysis and the molecular clock to provide new evidence that weighs more strongly in favor of ocean crossings. The molecular clock, despite its limitations, can provide more statistical evidence as to when speciation occurs than the fossil record or any other tool we’ve had to date. This statistical evidence can be combined with improved dating, greater knowledge of the continental positions in deep time, and other evidence to build convincing cases for oceanic dispersal. The hypothesis that monkeys rafted from Africa to South America may not ever be “falsifiable” in the way that mathematics or physics hypotheses are falsifiable, but enough evidence can be built in its favor to show that despite improbability, given enough time, it’s the most likely explanation.

This is the “plot synopsis” version of de Queiroz’s book, and like all plot synopses makes a tapestry into a threadbare towel. In examining the basic question of how life disperses, de Queiroz looks at aspects of the philosophy and history of science, how science is engaged by its practitioners – in the field, in academic journals, and in the realm of personal politics. It looks like there is finally enough agreed-on evidence to provide basis for further research.

This is the kind of science book that I like because it engages me in a subject I had little knowledge of, and thought I had little interest in.

Conclusion

From late August through December, 2014, I was publishing roughly a chapter a week of my MEH project on Nature Intrudes. I got close to the end but hit a sticking point for some reason. Here, for what it’s worth, is the final chapter of the project, called… wait for it… Conclusion. In fact, this was newly revised this week.

Immediate Plans

This document was originally written in Summer, 2014. At that time, implementation of the WNPS stewardship grant, further monitoring and control of the south plateau street runoff, and monitoring of the 24th ave. wall conduit during a rain event were considered primary.

This revision of the original document is being written in March, 2015. We will look at the plans for 2014 as originally outlined and how they have been carried out. For 2015, we will look at the efforts to date, and project for the rest of the year.

We then look at possible scenarios for 2021 and 2061, ten and fifty years after restoration began, respectively.

The rest of 2014

August

The August work party returned to the areas cleared in January and February to prepare them for planting in November. August work parties are generally the lowest-attended of the year, and there were only three volunteers.

September

The September work party was held in the South Plateau, and included almost twenty students from Seattle Pacific University participating in their “CityQuest” program. We did extensive weeding, mulched some bare areas, and built a couple composting platforms.

October

The October work party featured the first phase of planting for the WNPS stewardship grant. Please see “Stewardship Grant” for details. Working with students from North Seattle College’s iCare program, we planted 450 plugs of obligate wetland, which were 50 each of Carex amplifolia, Deschampsia Caespitosa, and Juncus ensifolius; and 100 each of Carex stipata, Glyceria striata, and Scirpus microcarpus.

November

In November, we executed the first phase of installing the plant provided by Green Seattle Partnership. The work was carried out in the Central Valley, Headwaters Bowl, and the North Slope. We were joined by students from North Seattle College’s iCare program and Circle K International, from the UW.

December

In early December, a large Acer macrophyllum (Big leaf maple) at the base of the North Slope fell across the trail to the Central Valley, landing in areas A and B (see figure below). It blocked access to an area that had been cleared in 2011 and had received heavy planting in the meantime. Luckily, a lot of plants survived the collapse. Enough of the main stem remained standing to create a new snag, and the fallen wood and brush added a lot of woody debris to both the stream and the wetlands.

The tree fell from the North Slope side of the trail across area A (blue) and into area B (red) in this image.

The tree fell from the North Slope side of the trail across area A (blue) and into area B (red) in this image.

The tree fall created a large gap on the North Slope. Forest stewards removed many holly suckers and shoots from the ground and logged the holly trees for removal. This gap will receive some attention from Natural Area Crews in 2015, focusing on invasive removal, erosion control, and upland planting.

2015

January

The January work party featured the installation of some upland plants into open areas of the South Plateau. We were joined by members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity from the UW. One forest steward worked on the water channel, creating a meander to help spread the flow across the surface of the plateau.

February

The February work party featured the implementation of the second half of the WNPS stewardship grant. In this case, we were planting facultative wetland trees and shrubs. Doug Gresham (a wetland scientist) helped immensely by sorting the trees and shrubs by where they fell in the gradient from wetland to upland. Although this planting was late in the season, the plants are likely to do well because they are in fairly wet areas of the park.

March

March will have a site review with Parks Department staff and forest stewards to prioritize Natural Area Crew work in the park for 2015. March will also feature Friends of North Beach Park tabling at and participating in Groundswell Northwest’s “Civic Social.” The March work party will feature clearing new areas for the fall planting.

April

In April, Friends of North Beach Park will table at the “Natural Area and Greenbelt Mini Summit Open House,” sponsored by the Parks Department. Some plans to open parks designated as Natural Areas to more active recreation are very controversial. The April work party will again feature clearing new areas for fall planting.

May

We have not previously had a work party in May for a couple reasons: First, it’s the height of nesting season, which is a good reason to stay out of the forest if at all possible. Second, the 4th Saturday schedule puts in in Memorial Day weekend, when many people want to get out of town if at all possible. However, an opportunity presented itself to have a largish group work in the park. We will work in the South Plateau with middle school youth from the “Bureau of Fearless Ideas.” The work will be weeding of quick-seeding annual weeds such as wall lettuce and nipplewort. This will be part one of a two-part writing workshop for the youth, coordinated by Green Seattle Partnership.

June through November

The work done in these months has started to follow a regular pattern: In June and July, we use the stream to water plants located at the rim of the park and other dry areas. August might feature more watering or a return to invasive removal. In September, we again hope to host students from Seattle Pacific University at the South Plateau. October and/or November will feature planting from GSP supplied plants.

2016

The Seattle Metropolitan Parks District comes into being in 2016. Many groups are already meeting to make sure the new funding has a positive impact. Exactly how this will affect forest stewards and Green Seattle Partnership is unclear, although it is likely to increase funding for Natural Area Crews and forest steward resources.

2021

2021 is ten years after the start of restoration. If FoNBP is able to keep working with the same energy and quality of work, it’s likely that all of the volunteer and forest steward-accessible areas of the park will be in at least Phase 1 of restoration, and that all the slopes requiring crew time will have received at least an initial invasive removal.

The existing monocultures will have been eradicated, and forest stewards will work on restoration using methods that avoid disrupting the soil and shrub layer as much as possible. During the early stages of Phase 1 of new restoration, we will introduce a new conifer generation. During the Phase 2 and 3 restoration, we will increase shrub and groundlayer diversity and introduce a new deciduous generation.

Some well-established areas of restoration, such as the South Plateau and the Headwaters Bowl, will be approaching Phase 4. When a restoration site enters Phase 4 restoration, we will introduce a new conifer generation. Please see “Success Metrics” for a discussion of the restoration phases.

On the other hand, NBP loses one to three deciduous trees a year to age and failure. This means that by 2021 we will have lost between 10 and 30 mature deciduous trees, with a consequent enlargement of canopy gaps. These gaps can provide beneficial edge effects, and the greater light levels on the forest floor will stimulate conifer and shrub growth. But the increased light will also make the park more susceptible to sun-loving weeds and grasses. Each fall must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The rate of fall means that removing ivy from trees has to continue to be a priority. A tree with ivy on the trunk and into the canopy that fell into a cleared area would recontaminate it.

2061

This is much more difficult to predict, not least because of the possible effects of climate change. But 50 years is also much longer than the lifespan of a typical “Friends of” group. It would be unrealistically optimistic to suggest that the “Friends of North Beach Park” will have continued in a recognizable form for so long. However, continuing restoration, whether through FoNBP or another agency, is the only prediction I can make.

It’s likely that by 2061 North Beach Park will have a well-established young conifer forest. Surviving conifers that had been planted at the start of restoration will be at the mid-canopy, halfway between the shrub layer and mature trees. The mature canopy is likely to be made up of the few current mature conifers, with some regenerating deciduous trees that are currently at the mid-canopy level. This layer will be much patchier than currently.

Even optimistic scenarios say that the average temperature will be noticeably warmer mid-century than it is now. It is likely the increasing warmth will disrupt existing plant communities. There will be new invasive plants, both from the introduction of new exotic species and plants from southern areas moving north.

If we can maintain enough canopy, the shade and cooling will help mitigate the effects of climate change. The wet, nutrient rich soils will also greatly aid the establishment and survival of the plants installed there, mitigating to some degree the stress of increased temperatures.

I have two optimistic hopes for the future, in regards to North Beach Park. Neither can be considered a “prediction.”

One is that this ravine, and other riparian ravines in Seattle and the lower Puget Trough, will be restored with an eye to becoming refugia, habitats for plants and trees at all forest layers that would otherwise be threatened or endangered by climate change. They might be completely novel ecologies compared to plant communities today, incorporating plants from different ranges.

The other is that socially, I hope that stewardship is seen not as something done for five or even ten years, but is something that one does for one’s entire life, and that it affects all phases of life choices. The forest doesn’t end, why should stewardship?

March Work party Announcement!

Whew — the planting is all done! We’d like to give a big shout-out once again to the Washington Native Plant Society for the Stewardship Grant that made all this planting possible, to Doug Gresham for all his technical advice, and to ALL the people who helped on site with the planting. Friends of North Beach Park thanks you, the birds thank you, and future generations, if we’re lucky, will think everything looks untouched by human hands.

Now it’s time to move on… to preparing for next fall’s planting!

On Saturday, March 28th, we’ll start the invasive removal that’s an important part of restoration. Maybe not as much fun as planting, but you have to make room, right?

We will meet at 9 a.m. at the main entrance to the park at 24th Ave. NW and NW 90th St. The work party will last until noon. We will likely need to transport some mulch into the park.

Please sign up in advance so we know you’re coming.

Remember to wear weather-appropriate layers that can get dirty and to bring water or a snack if you need them. We provide tools, gloves, and guidance. All ages are welcome; volunteers under 18 must sign and bring a waiver (link next to the sign-up form). The #48 bus stops a few blocks south of the park; check Metro for details. Parking is available on 90th St. east of 24th Ave.

If you can’t join us in March, save the date for April 25th. Sign up here.

As always, you can support Friends of North Beach Park by making a directed donation to the Seattle Parks Foundation. All money donated will be used to fund the restoration efforts of North Beach Park.

And if you’re interested in sustainable cities, and some of the transportation issues facing Seattle, please take a few minutes to take this SDOT survey. It relates to the Move Seattle levy coming up this fall, and has some questions relating to the urban forest.

If you have any questions about the work party or Friends of North Beach Park, feel free to write lukemcguff@yahoo.com for further information.

The Conscientious Gardener


The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic
Sarah Hayden Reichard
University of California Press, 2011

An important aspect of ecological restoration is the private garden. By adding native plants, decreasing the use of pesticides, more carefully recycling and reusing materials, the home gardener can, in aggregate, have a tremendous impact on the landscape as a whole.

In “The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic,” Sarah Reichard (Director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens) lays out the principles of the garden ethic as inspired by Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” – that is, being aware of not just the plants in your garden, but the web of interactions with the soil, the sun, the water, and the other plants and life forms. She describes the problems of the home gardener, such as over watering or over use of fertilizers and pesticides, citing both general and technical literature. She also describes many solutions that can work in all areas of the country.

She is a strong advocate for native plants, of course, but does NOT advocate ripping out your entire garden. Natives can be integrated with general horticultural plants to great effect. Using the same horticultural plants can makes gardens look alike the whole world around, but if everyone were to rip out all exotic plants, we’d be left with PNW filled with the few horticultural workhorses. We’d be left with LESS diversity in our gardens, not more. Integrating the gardens with native and exotic horticultural plants is the way to go.

Being aware of the interconnectedness of all gardens, of how they connect to local watersheds, the wildlife that might come from a nearby park or greenbelt, or even the garden next door, can help guide one’s choices. Maybe use a less water hungry plant, or decrease the VERY resource-hungry lawn. Widen the bloom time of your garden to increase food for pollinators. Add plants that will go to seed and provide food for birds. Leave the seed heads for the birds.

Reichard’s book is valuable because it describes things people can do in their home gardens that will have a definite impact on the environment. It’s an important part of a growing body of literature on how to increase the ecological value of the home garden.

Novel Ecologies

Between human disturbance and climate change, every environment on the planet is being affected by humanity. Will we ever get out from under all the weeds we’ve introduced? As the scope of our effect on the planet becomes larger, biologists and ecologists have begun to talk about “novel ecologies.” a concept that would accept some level of disturbance in order to bring successful restoration within reach.

Ecological restoration is the act of taking a degraded landscape and restoring it to a fully-functioning ecosystem. Examples of degraded landscapes would be a mine site, an estuary that was used as farmland, or decommissioned alpine trails and camping sites. In North Beach Park, we’re working on a patch of degraded urban forest and wetlands. It’s considered “degraded” because, when we started restoration, there was a lot of trash from the ravine being used as a dump, the canopy cover was mostly short-lived alders and big leaf maples, and the groundcover was becoming increasingly dominated by English ivy and blackberry.

Restoration in this urban park is largely being done by removing invasive plants and introducing native plants, hopefully resembling a pre-disturbance plant community well enough that it will restore the functions that it lost. North Beach Park lost diversity and functions in at least four areas: (1) root structure which holds the soil and filters water for the stream and wetlands in the park; (2) bloom times to provide food for birds, bees, and insects and those who eat them; and (3) canopy structure which provides habitat for different birds; (4) carbon sequestration provided by long-lived conifers.

But what is invasive, what is native? Whenever humans arrive in a new place, we begin introducing new species and making things less hospitable for plants and animals that lived there before us. Do we want to restore an urban park to a status it had before any human disturbance? In the Pacific Northwest, the Salish people were living here as soon as the glaciers retreated – following the glaciers north, in fact. Later, Europeans brought a whole slew of disturbances.

The Washington Native Plant Society defines a native plant as:

“…those species that occur or historically occurred within the state boundaries before European contact based upon the best available scientific and historical documentation.”

The scientific and historical documentation happened in the early and middle 19th century, but there had already been two disruptions: Beaver trapping had already greatly reduced the beaver population, disrupting river cycles; and smallpox had already reduced the human population, disrupting such cultural practices as burning to maintain open prairies. However, neither of these disruptions had nearly the impacts that occurred with settlement, agricultural development, and logging, which started around 1850.

The 19th century botanical documentation was done with an eye toward finding new plants for the British horticulture industry, not towards understanding plant interactions and communities. We get that understanding from late 20th and early 21st century practices of looking back through the historical records or studying relict patches that, as best we can determine, exist in nearly untouched conditions.

Noteworthy examinations of relict patches in the Pacific Northwest were done by Christopher Chapell (forest plants) and Linda Kunze (low-lying freshwater wetlands). Examination of the historical record was done by Ray Larson in his MS thesis, which examined the botanical records of the federal land surveyors.

Establishing nativeness for plants is difficult. Sometimes, introduced plants that “play well with others,” or are useful or attractive to humans, are considered “native.” Sometimes a species that was growing in an area prior to human disturbance is released from competitive pressure, expands its range, and we decide it’s “invasive.” You’ll never see stinging nettle or western dock on a planting list, for instance.

The documentation of historic conditions in Washington was more recent and the disruption less drastic than in other areas. In many other places in the United States, the disruption by European immigrants happened quickly and with no records at all of pre-existing conditions.

The difficulty of knowing pre-disruption conditions and uncertainty of the nativeness of plants and wildlife, and the difficulty of eradicating all the invasive species (honeybees and earthworms would be impossible to eradicate in the Pacific NW, let alone ivy and blackberry), has led some biologists to propose the concept of “novel ecologies”. That concept has since been a point of contention among invasion biologists for about 20-30 years. The idea is that some areas are so disrupted or degraded from their original conditions that they could never be restored to pre-disturbance states. Novel ecologies would allow restorationists to set some reasonable level of acceptable disturbance that would bring successful restoration within reach.

But, in my opinion, the idea of novel ecologies is too broad and too facile.

Too broad because, wherever humans are, we create a novel ecology compared to pre-settlement conditions. Too facile, because it can too easily serve short-term human purposes. Does the government want to widen river buffers from 50 to 100 yards, which would take away acres of your Christmas tree farm? You, the tree farmer, would then show that your farm is a “novel ecology” and thus protected from change.

However, we can use the idea of novel ecologies to examine our restoration efforts. If all cities are novel ecologies, should we accept them as they are or engage in restoration? What can we do to restore, rehabilitate, or reintegrate some of the functions that we’ve disrupted? Cities were built in forests; we turned the forests into areas of dense buildings interspersed with islands of parks and gardens with pretty but non-native plants. Do we want more of a forest here in the city? What can we do to allow the city to have viable forests within its perimeter?

Resources

Two books that talk about novel ecologies from a general perspective:

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, Emma Marris. (My review here.)

Where Do Camels Belong?: Why Invasive Species Aren’t All Bad, Ken Thompson.

Two articles that look at the concept as well:

‘New normal’ approach to conservation comes under fire by Jose Hong. This article discusses a peer-reviewed critique of the idea of novel ecologies.

Thoughts on the “New Nature”: Are Collared-Doves dangerous invaders or just birds? by Alan de Queiroz. Another article that looks at the idea of novel ecologies, discussing “Where Do Camels Belong?”, “The Urban Bestiary” (Haupt) and other books.

Acknowledgements

This article was edited by Jean Davis. All mistakes and infelicities remain with the author, me.

February Work Party Report!

Another great work party today at North Beach Park! We were able to plant 150 wetland trees and shrubs with time to spare. The plants we installed were:

Scientific Name Common Name
Fraxinus latifolia Oregon ash
Malus fusca Pacific crab apple
Physocarpus capitatus Pacific ninebark
Salix lucida Pacific willow
Salix sitchensis Sitka willow

Five buckets of fun!
Five buckets of fun!

These are all “facultative wetland” plants, which means that 2/3ds of the time they are found growing in wetlands, and about 1/3 or so in slightly dryer areas. They were purchased from 4th Corner Nuseries as partial fulfillment of the Washington Native Plant Society Stewardship Grant that Friends of North Beach Park received last June. It’s been a very successful grant for us, and we look forward to seeing the results in the summer and the coming years.

We had eleven volunteers ranging in age from senior in high school on up to well retired. Here is a picture of two of them:

Spot the volunteers!
Spot the volunteers!

We installed the plants between the stream and the trail, in areas that were primarily salmonberry and red alder. They greatly increase the diversity of plant life in those areas; in a few years, they’ll be taller than the salmonberry and quite striking. Also, when they’re at their full height, they will increase the structural diversity (that’s good for birds as well visual aesthetics). We worked in two sections of the park, the Headwaters Bowl and the Central Valley.

I didn’t take very many pictures this time, but there are a few more on Flickr.

Our next two work parties are scheduled for March 28th and April 25th. We usually skip May, because of Memorial Day weekend, but we’re working on something special that should be a lot of fun. We’ll update with details as they become solidified.

Join us in the woods some time! It’s fun and a great way to meet your neighbors.

February Work Party!

February is the last planting work party of the 2014-2015 planting season in North Beach Park. This month we plant trees and shrubs purchased from Fourth Corner Nurseries as part of the Washington Native Plant Society stewardship grant. These are deciduous trees and shrubs that go well in wetlands and are under-represented or being reintroduced to North Beach Park. Specifically, we’ll be planting Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia), Pacific crab apple (Malus fusca), Pacific willow (Salix lucida), and Sitka willow (S. sitchensis)

On Saturday, February 28th we’ll be working in the main body of the park. We’ll be planting on the stream banks and just up the slopes from the bottom of the wetlands.

We will meet at the main entrance to the park at 24th Ave. NW and NW 90th St. and will head into the park shortly after 9. The work party will last until noon. Some areas will need some preparation before being planted. And we’ll mulch as much as we can.

Please sign up in advance so we know you’re coming.

Remember to wear weather-appropriate layers that can get dirty and to bring water or a snack if you need them. We provide tools, gloves, and guidance. All ages are welcome; volunteers under 18 must sign and bring a waiver (link next to the sign-up form). The #48 bus stops a few blocks south of the park; check Metro for details. Parking is available on 90th St. east of 24th Ave.

This is the second planting work party installing plants purchased with the WNPS grant. The first was in October, at which we planted wetland-obligate grasses.

As always, if you don’t have the time to join us for a work party, you can support Friends of North Beach Park by making a directed donation to the Seattle Parks Foundation.

All money donated will be used to fund the restoration efforts of North Beach Park.

If you have any questions, feel free to write lukemcguff@yahoo.com for further information.

Thanks! We look forward to seeing you there.

January Work Party Report

The weather forecast was for warm temperatures and “decreasing rain” — we had no rain at all and perfect temperatures.

We had a great crew of fifteen people, including forest stewards and students from the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at the UW.

We planted 75 plants, spread over the South Plateau.
The South Plateau
(This is looking into the South Plateau, which is the largest flat, dry area in the park.)

We planted four Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), more than eleven Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor), and about 15 each dwarf Oregon-grape (Mahonia nervosa), sword fern (Polystichum munitum), bald-hip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa), and Nootka rose (R. nutkana). All these plants are under-represented in the South Plateau and have been reintroduced by restoration planting (although not this time). They’ll help to stabilize and buttress slopes and add more visual texture to the currently open and bare area.

Here is an “after” picture of the hearty crew:
The hearty crew

All in all, this was a pretty easy-going work party. We had plenty of time for some ivy and herb robert removal and even some attempts to help slow the water flow down.

The next work party for the Friends of North Beach Park will be February 28, at 9 a.m. We’ll be planting shrubs in the main body of the park. Please sign up here if you’d like to join us.

North Beach Park January Work Party

January is the third of FOUR planting work parties in North Beach Park. We hope to plant just over 1000 plants (total). Join us in this quest to help make North Beach Park even better.

On Saturday, January 24th we’ll be working in the South Plateau, adding diversity and density to plants already installed by earlier volunteers and the Natural Area Crew. We’ll be working in areas cleared of invasives last fall by Seattle Pacific University students and forest stewards. We should also have time to check the water flow in the South Plateau,

We’ll meet at 9 a.m. at the entrance to the South Plateau, 88th St. and 27th Ave. NW. We’ll go until 12 noon.

Directions: First, get to the intersection of 24th Ave. NW and NW 85th St. the way that’s most convenient for you. The NW corner of the intersection is Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church. Head west on 85th St. to 26th Ave. Turn right (north) onto 26th Ave and head north to 88th St. and turn left (west). Look for parking. 27th Ave. is a very short street to the north; it almost looks like an alley. The entrance to the park is about half a block north of the intersection of 27th Ave. and 88th St. and is visible from the intersection.

Please sign up in advance so we know you’re coming.

Remember to wear weather-appropriate layers that can get dirty and to bring water or a snack if you need them. We provide tools, gloves, and guidance. All ages are welcome; volunteers under 18 must sign and bring a waiver (link next to the sign-up form). The #48 bus stops a few blocks south of the park; check Metro for details. This is a residential area with limited parking; please carpool if at all possible.

We’ll be installing plants provided by Green Seattle Partnership and the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. We’ll be planting trees and shrubs appropriate to an upland coniferous forest.

As always, if you don’t have the time to join us for a work party, you can support Friends of North Beach Park by making a directed donation to the Seattle Parks Foundation at this URL: https://seattleparksfoundation.org/2014-pages/step-up/north-beach-park

All money donated will be used to fund the restoration efforts of North Beach Park.

If you have any questions, feel free to write lukemcguff@yahoo.com for further information.

Mondays at the Park

One of the great things that has made the restoration of North Beach Park so successful is the fact that three forest stewards (myself, Tad, and Drexie) have gotten together most Mondays for a couple hours.

We started sometime in late 2011, probably during the research for our Master Forester project. And then we just kept going. It was never an obligation, it was always a choice. Sometimes things would come up for one or another of us, sometimes we’d decide it was too cold or rainy.

But four out of five Mondays for the last three+ years would find us in the park, 10 a.m. to noon. Sometimes there would be something I’d want to do, but as often as not we’d decide on the spot what to do. We’d explore the park, put survival rings around trees, check the progress of some plants, water if necessary, and just do whatever. We did a LOT of work party planning. That meant sometimes meeting at Carkeek to label and sort the GSP plant delivery. A couple times we had coffee meetings at Tad or Drexie’s house. Whatever we did, it was a bright point in the week for me.

You’d think that after exploring a little nine acre park just about once a week for a couple years, you’d know it pretty well. But there was always some new discovery to be made — whether something as drastic as a tree fall (this happens at the rate of three or four a year), a new plant we hadn’t seen before, or just a change in perspective from different seasons or being on a hillside and looking into the park from a new angle.

I’m feeling especially aware of this because in a couple days I start a temp assignment that will keep me from being in the park on Mondays for the next several weeks. And I hope by the time that’s over I have a full time job to step into.

I was going to sprinkle this with pictures from the various Mondays… but I don’t feel like wading through Flickr in the way it would take. Here, go browse around for yourself.