Notes from the field: Day of Caring Wrap-up

Today’s guest plogger is Charlie Wakenshaw from our Volunteer Program

Last Friday, Sept 13, was United Way Day of Caring, a day we look forward to all year because it brings members of our community together to lend support for the public lands we all share. In partnership with the United Way of King County, we hosted four events this year, at Preston Athletic Fields and Community Park, Tanner Landing Park, Dick Thurnau Memorial Park, and Tolt-MacDonald Park.

Adult volunteer with wheelbarrow full of weeds at Preston Athletic Fields on the United Way Day of Caring 2019.
A Microsoft volunteer at Preston Athletic Fields and Community Park.

In the parking lot at Preston, a group from Microsoft weeded around native plants and applied mulch. By the end of the day, they had filled a 10-yard composting container with weeds and pruned branches! We were glad to have this group give some TLC to these places that often get ignored. Even small patches like medians can have an oversized impact on ecosystem health.

Meanwhile, another group was busy mulching native plants at Tanner Landing Park. Over the course of four hours, this group moved 22 cubic yards of mulch. It is always amazing to see just how much we can accomplish when we work together to make a positive impact. Since this park lies on the banks of the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, it is a crucial buffer that provides clean water and wildlife habitat. These ongoing efforts will ensure this area continues to grow into a mature healthy forest that will benefit our environment for generations to come.

Adult volunteers with a wheelbarrow of mulch at Tanner Landing Park.
Microsoft volunteers preparing to spread mulch at Tanner Landing Park.

Volunteers at Thurnau Memorial Park braved a thicket of invasive blackberry along the forested perimeter of this park, which includes a popular disc golf course. This is the first crucial step in stopping the spread of this invasive weed and restoring this area to a native forest. Once the blackberry is under control, volunteers will help to plant a suite of native trees and shrubs, which will outcompete this thorny foe.

Group of 23 adult volunteers with pile of invasive blackberry weeds at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park.
Volunteers with some of the invasive blackberry that they removed from Dick Thurnau Memorial Park.

And at Tolt MacDonald Park, another enthusiastic group of Microsoft employees shuttled buckets of mulch across a field that used to be nothing more than a sea of invasive blackberry. Now, largely as a result of on-going volunteer efforts, we put more than 5,000 native trees in the ground, which is part of King County’s effort to plant 1 million trees by 2020.

The fight to control this invasion continued as volunteers cleared the canes from the newly planted trees before applying mulch. One volunteer saw what he was up against and exclaimed, “These canes are bigger than the tree!” His coworker responded, “They’re not bigger than my biceps though!” and wrestled the encroaching tangle from a Douglas Fir tree.

We could not maintain and improve our growing 28,000 acres of parks and trails without the help of our hardworking volunteers. Thank you to everyone who came out to make this day a display of service and caring.

The fall and winter is the busy season for our Volunteer Program since this is when we put in plants at our various restoration project sites. Come and help us restore our parks and help us get towards that 1 million tree goal at an upcoming event.

Group of 11 adult volunteers with pile of invasive blackberry weeds at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park.
Microsoft volunteers at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park.

Who knows, you could even be the one to plant the millionth tree!

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