July Workparty Report

Sometimes, a small work party is just the thing.

Four volunteers from OneBrick Seattle joined three Friends of North Beach Park for a little mid-summer aftercare watering for plants that we’ve planted in the last couple years.

This might seem paradoxical, because aren’t “native” plants adapted to this weather, and able to survive the summer with no problem? That’s true of well-established plants, getting the care one gives a garden. However, giving a plant even a gallon a week of some water can help it survive the worst of the summer drought, and establish better in the following winter. A gallon might not seem like much, but pouring it directly onto the root crown means very little is wasted.

And summer work parties are generally pretty small — who wants to spend a wonderful morning in the city, even in a forested park, when you could get out and about? So that’s a good time to do some watering and after care.

After Care
NB: The person is watering the fern, not the ivy. Just to be clear.

Here is (most of) the crew:
The Crew
That’s Morry in the back, Nan in the front, and then Kegan, Jon, and Mai Lin left to right. Nan, Kegan, Jon, and Mai Lin signed up for the work party via OneBrick Seattle. (Not in the picture is Julie, who had done about as much watering on her own as the rest of the crew put together.)

Friends of North Beach Park will be at Art in the Garden, on Saturday, August 2nd — next week! Stop by and say hello and talk to us about North Beach Park. We’ll have information about North Beach Park, what we’re working on, and our plans for the future. We’ll also have information from some of our supporting organizations.

Stop by to say hello, stick around for the art, the garden, the silent pie auction, and the food trucks! A very pleasant little neighborhood fair.

July Work Party Announcement and News

We hope you and yours are keeping cool and surviving the heat as well as possible.

Saturday, July 26th, 9 a.m.: The predictions were for a hot, dry El Nino summer and so far that’s exactly what we’re getting. We’re going to focus on watering and aftercare for the upland plants again this month. That means, as for June, we’ll be (carefully) getting buckets of water from the stream and watering plants along the rim and main trail. A great way to get some exercise in! (Unless it’s raining, then we’ll do something else.) Please sign up on Cedar so we can make our plans.

We meet, rain or shine, at the main entrance to the park, 24th Ave and 90th St. NW. Wear weather-appropriate layers that can get dirty and sturdy shoes or mud boots. Long sleeves and long pants are recommended, even in the hot weather. We provide tools, gloves, and guidance. Bring water and a snack as you need them but there are no facilities at the park. All ages and skill levels are welcome, but children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Parking is on 90th St., east of 24th Ave. The #61 bus stops across the street from the park, and the #40 and #48 stop at 85th and 24th; check Metro for details.

Save the date for upcoming workparties: August 23rd, September 27th (we’ll be joined by students from Seattle Pacific University CityQuest), and October 25th – hopefully it will be cooling off by then! All workparties are 9 a.m. to 12 noon and meet at the main entrance to the park (90th and 24th).

The Groundswell NW Open Space Inventory has been extended to the end of August. We’ve added a few places around North Beach Park, but we know there are plenty of others. Find out more at Ballard Open Space Plan. Or take the open space survey.

Can’t join us for a work party? You can always support our restoration efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the Seattle Parks Foundation. All moneys donated will be used for the restoration of North Beach Park. Please visit their new and improved website at for more information. And check out their donor appreciation rewards!

Another great way to help — take a walk in the park! It’s a pretty refreshing break on these hot days.

See you in the woods!

June Work Party Report

Eight friends of North Beach Park gathered Saturday (6/28) morning to help restore this neighborhood pocket of our urban forest. This month, we concentrated on aftercare, weeding and watering plants that had been planted in the last year or two. Generally, restoration plants are left to sink or swim on their own. But even a little water in their first year or two can be very helpful in getting them fully established to survive the summer droughts.

Weeding, watering, and after care

We concentrated on the rim of the park, along 24th Ave., and along the upland side of the first couple hundred feet of the main trail.

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
This salal is looking pretty good. Salal takes a while to establish, but can really take off after a few years. The fact that it has flowers is a good sign.

Overall, it was a pretty easy going work party. The people who brought wheelbarrows of water up from the stream, or the people who brought the tires up from the wetlands, might disagree with me. ;> But I do know a good time was had by all.

As always, there are a few more photos on Flickr.

***

There is a lot happening in the park this summer, restoration-wise. We’ve already had a visit from SPU, a drainage specialist and a wetland scientist, to talk about our wetlands and what we can do (they were favorably impressed, and made some good suggestions).

Monday, June 30, we’re going to do a cross-gradient transect of the park, examining plant life and restoration issues in detail along a nearly 700 foot line. We’ll be working with Stewart Wechsler.

In early July, we’ll have a visit with a person from King Conservation District, who will help us plan some outreach and financing (through grants) larger projects in the park.

And in July and August, I (Luke) will be working on a restoration management plan for the park. A lot of the information provided by the site reviews and transect will be used in the management plan.

Our next work party is July 26th, 9 a.m. to noon. We’ll meet at the main entrance to the park, 90th St. and 24th Ave NW. Wear weather-appropriate layers and sturdy shoes that can get dirty, bring water or a snack if you need it. We’ll provide tools, gloves, and guidance. Join us and find out how much fun it is to help restore our forested parks.

June Workparty and Other News

This is a longer than usual post this time because there is so much to catch up on! But we start with the important bit: The work party announcement.

Saturday, June 28th, 9 a.m.: Welcome the early days of summer to North Beach Park at our June work party. Because the spring was relatively dry, we’re going to concentrate on after care for some of the newer plants in the upland areas. That means we’ll be getting buckets of water from the stream (carefully) and watering plants along the rim and main trail. A great way toget some exercise in! (Unless it’s raining, then we’ll do something else.) Please sign up on Cedar so we can make our plans.

We meet, rain or shine, at the main entrance to the park, 24th Ave and 90th St NW. Wear weather-appropriate layers that can get dirty and sturdy shoes or mud boots. We provide tools, gloves, and guidance. Bring water and a snack as you need them but there are no facilities at the park. All ages and skill levels are welcome, but children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Parking is on 90th St., east of 24th Ave. The #61 bus stops across the street from the park, and the #40 and #48 stop at 85th and 24th; check Metro for details.

Save the date for upcoming workparties: July 26th, August 23rd, and September 27th. All workparties are 9 a.m. to 12 noon and meet at the main entrance to the park (90th and 24th).

Saturday, June 14th, 10 a.m.: Join Groundswell NW next week for the Ballard Open Space Discovery Day in Ballard Commons Park (57th and 22nd). Groundswell did an open space inventory for Ballard in 1996 and used that information to create many parks. The needs of Ballard have changed, and what we consider open space has changed as well. Friends of North Beach Park will be working with Groundswell NW in the area between 24th and 32nd Ave., and from 85th St. north to 100th St. We know there is a lot of open space that could be brought forward into better public use. Find out more Or take the open space survey.

North Beach Park News: Friends of North Beach Park was recently awarded a $500 stewardship grant from the Washington Native Plant Society. We’ll use this money to improve our wetland plantings. We’d like to thank the members of the Washington Native Plant Society – Central Puget Sound Chapter for their role in making this grant possible. The plants will be installed starting in early fall.

We’d like to say thank you to all the donors who made “GiveBIG” on May 6th so successful for North Beach Park. We raised more than $800, and the donors ranged from neighbors of the park to as far away as Wisconsin and Georgia. All this money will go to our restoration efforts. If you would like to donate, please see below.

A video crew from the Seattle Channel joined our April work party to document how burlap sacks are used in Seattle Parks. Most of the burlap used is donated by Distant Lands Coffee, and we’re grateful to have a good supply of free burlap to use on our hillsides. Watch the video.

Also in April, FoNBP was awarded one of the Groundswell NW 2014 “Local Hero” awards for our work in the park. We got the chance to meet the Mayor and babbled like an idiot when it came time to say thank you. But great fun was had by all.

Can’t join us for a work party? You can always support our restoration efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the Seattle Parks Foundation. All moneys donated will be used for the restoration of North Beach Park. Please visit their website for more information.

Thank you for participating and helping in the restoration of North Beach Park.

Ballard Open Space Survey

Groundswell NW, one of the supporting organizations for the Friends of North Beach Park, is undertaking an open space inventory in Ballard, starting June 14th.

Groundswell NW did a survey in 1996, and used the information to help create traffic circles, many neighborhood corner parks, and such places as the Salmon Bay Natural Area and Crown Hill Glen. Since the 1990s, the idea of “open space” has changed. It now includes areas for farmers markets, p-patches, greenways, and street right-of-way landscaping. The open spaces that Groundswell has helped to create have improved the nature and character of living in Ballard.

Ballard has changed in the mean time as well. Downtown (or Central) Ballard is going through an unprecedented growth spurt, with many apartment buildings, in-fill town homes, and condominiums transforming the landscape. A detailed inventory and survey of open space possibilities will allow us to not only preserve but enhance the open space available to all residents.

Friends of North Beach Park will be helping Groundswell with this survey. As you might guess, we’ll be walking through the North Beach [pdf] area. There are a number of other ravines near North Beach Park, which could be restored to functioning urban forest, and provide important wildlife connectivity between Carkeek Park and Golden Gardens. There are also some undeveloped lots that could be used to improve street grid connections, or just provide a place to sit.

And last but not least, we look forward to walking through the North Beach neighborhood and getting to know our neighbors a little better.

THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone for a very successful GiveBIG for Friends of North Beach Park. We raised more than $800, with donations coming from as far as Atlanta, GA and as nearby as the rim of the park itself.

This generosity is flattering, humbling, and challenging. Flattering, because it means the work of Friends of North Beach Park is being recognized. Humbling, because it causes us to reflect on how much work there is to be done. And challenging, because it gives us a tool to do that work.

Thank you, for all you’ve done for North Beach Park. And we look forward to working together in the future.

Recognition of our Work

There are some important ways in which the work of Friends of North Beach Park has been recognized.

In 2012, we received a Groundswell NW microgrant of $500 that we used for the purchase of tools and some outreach supplies.

Tools purchased with the grant money from Groundswell NW
Some of the tools we purchased.

In 2014, Groundswell NW again recognized Friends of North Beach Park by awarding Luke its “Local Hero” award. This award is shared among all the people who have worked to restore North Beach Park, particularly the other forest stewards who are there week in and week out, or who come to every work party.

And, although details still need to be ironed out, Friends of North Beach Park was just awarded a Washington Native Plant Society Stewardship Grant. This grant is another recognition of the growing success of our work in restoring North Beach Park, and will add to that success. We will use it to purchase a suite of wetland plants to plant into the bottoms of the park. Our native wetland plants have much deeper and more complicated root systems than the invasive ivy and blackberry they’re replacing.

There is, of course, still years of work to be done. You can help us with this work by donating to Friends of North Beach Park, tomorrow, May 6th, any time between midnight and midnight.

Donating during GiveBIG is a great way to support our restoration efforts. Your tax-deductible donation will be matched by the Seattle Foundation, and all moneys received will be used for the restoration of North Beach Park. We’re entirely volunteer run, with no paid staff or office costs, so even $25 will have a large impact.

GiveBIG for North Beach Park

Tuesday, May 6th, GiveBIG for North Beach Park!

Go to the Friends of North Beach Park page on the Seattle Foundation website, on Tuesday, May 6th, and your tax-deductible donation to support the restoration of North Beach Park will be stretched by the Seattle Foundation.

All moneys raised will go toward the restoration of North Beach Park, whether it’s to buy new plants, reserve crew time, help fund community outreach, or provide educational resources. Friends of North Beach Park is entirely volunteer-driven, with no staff and no offices, so even $25 will be a tremendous help.

If you can’t join us for a 4th Saturday work party, this is a great way to show your support. In three years of restoration, we’ve made tremendous progress so far, and as we begin our 4th year of restoration, even greater progress lies ahead. We’ve removed trash and invasive plants, and reintroduced many native plants to the park, from trees down to flowers and grasses. Help us continue this work with your GiveBig donation on May 6th!

Thank you for your continued support.

April Work Party Report

A sudden opportunity provided itself a few weeks ago: The Seattle Channel was interested in doing a piece on Distant Lands Coffee, and how the burlap sacks they donate are being used in Seattle Parks for restoration. Always eager to get my face out in front, I leapt at the chance.

It became a Thing, with representatives of the coffee company, the Parks Department, people from Vital Content PR (who set the whole thing up) and several volunteers willing to put up with the disruptions. Still, we got some good work done. Well, the people who actually did the work.

What we did was build wattles to place against the ravine wall. The main path into the park is probably a logging road cut straight into the ravine side, leaving some places where it’s sheer. Wattles, made of burlap sacks half-filled with wood chips, can help support the wall while plants in front of it establish. As the wattles decay over time, they provide more planting surface and gradually (we hope) build enough structure in front of the wall to stabilize and buttress it.


Here are some volunteers starting to work on the wall.


And here is a completed wall. Some of the sticks in front of the wattles are Pacific nine-bark (Physocarpus capitatus) live stakes. They’re pretty burly, so even if they don’t establish, they’ll provide support. And we can keep putting in woody shrubs (and eventually trees) to buttress the wall.

But I was taken up with the video.


Mark Mead (left; from the parks department) being interviewed by Nicole Sanchez (right; from the Seattle Channel) about Green Seattle Partnership. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of the representative from Distant Lands being interviewed.

I also didn’t get a shot of the demonstration mulching project in-progress, but here it is finished:


That’s new wood chip mulch laid down on empty burlap sacks. This will help hold the trail in place for a while.

Finally, they talked to me about restoration in general and the use of burlap sacks.


Ms. Sanchez and her camera operator are amused that I pulled out a camera and took a picture of them (and I’m amused by the smart phone reaching up in the background).

This was at the foot of a slope we worked on in 2012. It was an ivy monoculture, and when we removed the ivy it turned out to be much steeper than it had appeared. So we had to cover it with burlap sacks, plant into it, and then cover all that with mulch. The last planting was in the fall of 2013. So far, it has a very good establishment rate. In fact, I stood right next to a big leaf maple sapling that was happily putting out leaves (another thing I forgot to get a picture of).

After that, we wrapped up with some b-roll and then the camera crew and publicists and all associated personnel departed. The people who were actually doing the work that day had finished by then as well, so we wrapped things up with a tour through the park. Among other things we saw:


Slough Sedge flowers! There is a large stand of slough sedge in the park, but it’s growing in the shade. This slough sedge, which we planted last fall, is getting enough sunlight to flower. The flowers aren’t pretty, but I was sure happy to see them.


Tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) that looks to be establishing well.

And finally just a great view of the park in full-on spring:

All the big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in the background had ivy covering the trunk and reaching into their crowns. They now breathe a little easier.

Our next work party isn’t until June 28, but there is plenty to keep you entertained until then, not to mention work parties at Golden Gardens (May 10th), Carkeek Park (May 17th), and Llandover Woods (May 11th).

And don’t forget Give Big Seattle, coming up on May 6th, which Friends of North Beach Park will be participating in. More information to come!

Letter to the City Council

I am a forest steward with Green Seattle Partnership since 2011. I am also a regular voter, and have voted for everyone on the City Council.

English ivy is a serious problem in Seattle. It’s taking over our forests, preventing regeneration of seedlings and shortening the lives of our mature trees. It’s epidemic throughout our park system. With no action taken, it will seriously degrade our parks and make them not only unusable for people, but destroy their ability to provide many of the ecological services parks provide.
Unfortunately, the most effective way to remove ivy is by hand. This makes it prohibitively expensive to control – unless you have a large pool of dedicated volunteers, and a large organization that can provide city-wide logistical and material support.

Green Seattle Partnership forest stewards are that pool of volunteers. They provide hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of volunteer labor annually. The Green Seattle Partnership is that organization. It provides tools, training, resources, outreach assistance, and coordination of logistics. It helps avoid duplication of effort, and makes sure we’re all working towards the same goal with the same tools and techniques.

My work is concentrated in North Beach Park, a 9-acre ravine park in Northwest Seattle. Green Seattle Partnership was there from the start. We’re now entering our fourth year of restoration. More than 20% of the park has been cleared of invasive plants, and a couple thousand trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants have been planted. North Beach Park has become an education resource for everyone from elementary students in the school across the street to UW students in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program. It has become a source of community and friendship to the regular volunteers and those who drop in just once or twice. These work parties provide an important contact to local nature, and help to instill and improve our sense of place.

Multiply this across the city, from the largest to the smallest natural area, and you can see the tremendous impact that the Green Seattle Partnership has on Seattle.

As we remove invasive monocultures and restore native diversity, we’re doing more than making the parks prettier for the human users. We’re providing resources for all wild life, from larvae through adult insects and the birds that eat them. We’re improving the ecological services that the urban forest provides: the stormwater retention, the erosion control, and the water purification. We’re bringing back iconic plants, such as the Western Red Cedar, the Douglas-fir (and the more humble but no less iconic low Oregon-grape and Western skunk cabbage) – plants that say “this is the Pacific Northwest.”

To pay for all this work directly would cost many times the request of Green Seattle Partnership in the proposed Parks budget. This is why I say that the Green Seattle Partnership is not a luxury but a necessity, not a liability but a valid and rewarding investment.

Please restore the Green Seattle Partnership funding to the proposed parks budget.

Thank you for your time. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you might have.