Public Programs in May
There’s something so magical about being in the forest in the springtime. The rain is still a steady comforting drizzle, the air is warming up, and delicate new leaves unfurl from sturdy weathered branches. A juxtaposition of old and new presents itself across the forest floor, sprouts rising up from the dead leaves and forest debris. Amongst the first plants to break through is stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, or sc̓ədᶻx̌.
Nature has a way of providing for us when we need it, if we take the time to tune into the rhythms. Newly sprouted nettle is packed full of the vitamins, minerals, and proteins a human body needs when recovering from a winter diet of processed foods. Many people readily accept these gifts, making teas and various other recipes to help their bodies recover from a long winter’s rest.
In her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Kimmerer writes, “Plants know how to make food and medicine from light and water, and then they give it away… From the beginning of the world, the other species were a lifeboat for the people. Now, we must be theirs.” The relationships we have with plants have the potential to be reciprocal and here at Friends of North Creek Forest, we try to carry that message across all that we do. It’s most obvious in our core work of ecological restoration, and we are trying to incorporate this into our education programming as well. It just so happens that carefully harvesting nettle at this early stage helps the plant grow stronger.
Students from Soundview learned this lesson of reciprocity while also learning the ecology of nettle growth. They learned how to remove the invasive European plant, yellow archangel, who is similar to nettle in many ways. While carefully harvesting nettle, making and eating nettle pesto, and enjoying lunch together, students and educators discussed human relationships with plants and the ethics of restoration ecology. What makes one plant a friend and the other a foe? In what ways can we honor our relationships in nature? In what ways can we practice reciprocity in our lives? Questions to consider as you make your way through the day. A wise friend once told me, nettle reminds us to walk carefully and deliberately through the world.
Working with North Creek Forest this winter has helped me understand and lift up others to grow through place based learning. Being located in an urban forest, it can be easy to be preoccupied with the current surrounding neighborhoods and the modern lives of humans. Taking time in the forest with work parties and learning alongside school groups has helped enrich how I view environmental education and interact with nature around me.
Over my spring break I realized how much I have learned about my local environments and how different ecosystems are when you travel. Last week I visited coastal southern California to visit family in Ventura, CA. Going on jogs alongside the beach I began asking myself questions similar to things I have been learning at North Creek. “What plants are invasive? Why is the land shaped the way it is? What is the watershed like of the region?” These were questions that I previously was not giving as much thought to before my internship, and now with being in that mindset in the North Creek Forest and surrounding wetlands, my brain is being pushed to seek out these answers.
This curiosity and desire for understanding is something I see as beautiful and powerful, especially if it can be encouraged in all types of individuals. When I think of my years throughout school and what inspired me, it was hands on immersive experiences that helped me appreciate the wonder of our planet and the natural processes that were a part of that. I’m happy to be assisting with Friends of North Creek Forest and encouraging curiosity and problem solving through place based learning.
My name is Meghan Carpenter and I am looking for volunteers to help me with my research project regarding bird speciation and activity within North Creek Forest. I am focusing on the restoration sites off of 112th Ave. and the site off of 204th Ave. The overall goal of this project is to obtain data as to which bird species are using the sites and how they are using them in order to gain insight into how effective the sites are in promoting bird diversity.
I am looking for individuals who are interested in birds and being outdoors to assist me with conducting observations at these two sites. This would mean spending time at each site identifying the bird species you see and hear as well as the activity each bird is engaging in. The dates and times of these observations can be flexible, but ideally I would like someone to conduct observations for me on either Saturday or Sunday. If you do not feel very confident in your bird identification skills, I am more than willing to provide training and resources for you to make sure you are confident to conduct observations on your own. I will also walk you through my field observation sheet so you will have a strong understanding of the information I am looking for. If you are interested in learning more about this research project or becoming a part of my team, I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at (425) 985-9465.
We are fortunate to have a crew from the Urban Forestry Restoration Project, administered by the Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) Urban and Community Forestry Program, working in North Creek Forest this month. It is an exciting opportunity to even further enhance the capacity of North Creek Forest to manage stormwater and improve air and water quality by improving the health and functionality of the forest.
A Puget SoundCorps team will be removing the English Holly and Yellow Archangel from North Creek Forest. These invasive non-native plants prevent forested areas from providing our community the full benefits and services of healthy forests by competing for water and nutrients, and in some cases even killing trees. Once the unwelcome plants are gone, native vegetation will be planted in its place by Friends of North Creek Forest volunteers.
The Puget SoundCorps team is removing the larger, hard to reach and difficult to control invasive species - those that require power tools, and limited, careful herbicide application, and are beyond the capacity of what Friends of North Creek Forest can take on with volunteer labor. FNCF will follow up with volunteer work parties to keep the areas weed free and to monitor the growth of the new plantings.
Volunteers of all ages and experience levels are welcome to volunteer at FNCF work parties!
Many thanks to the Department of Natural Resources and the King Conservation District Urban Forestry Program who have brought these resources to North Creek Forest!
For more information about the Urban Forestry Restoration Project, contact Micki McNaughton at (360) 902-1637 or email@example.com. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is made possible through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program administered by Washington Dept. of Ecology. Puget SoundCorps crews work on projects that help restore and protect water quality in Puget Sound. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and Education Awards provided by AmeriCorps.