We'd like to thank Guardian Cellars for their contribution in support of our recent fundraiser! You can visit their winery in Woodinville, or check out their website and Facebook page to learn more.
Our Education Manager, Alice Tsoodle has also decided to accept a new position and move forward on her career path. We are grateful to Alice for leading our education and stewardship work in the forest.
Our Executive Director, Emily Sprong, has decided to move on to other opportunities in her career. We are grateful to Emily for sharing her expertise in moving the organization from an all-volunteer group to a professional team.
Last week we were incredibly fortunate to partner with Expedia for their annual Day of Caring. We knew that a group of 100 tech savvy volunteers presented us with a unique opportunity, and it was the perfect chance to test out our new geographic information system (GIS) maps and integrated technology, and monitor the impact of the recent holly removal project.
Back in March, a crew from the Urban Forestry Restoration project, administered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), found over 200 invasive English Holly trees growing throughout North Creek Forest.
With the location of the treated holly mapped, it made sense to use these maps, which interface with a free mobile app, to relocate and assess the plants in a geocaching-style treasure hunt, but the challenge of accessing all the holly in a timely manner, and collecting all the data we were interested in, felt daunting.
Enter Expedia. As we were preparing the management plan for the the holly control project, we learned that Expedia was looking for projects for groups of about 100 volunteers in September. A technology based project for a tech company felt like a good fit, and Expedia was excited to help support forest health in this unique way.
Volunteers from our Research Committee and Board helped everyone get signed in (no small feat with 100 people!), oriented, and trained on how to download and use the GIS app, how to identify English Holly and classify crown health and new growth.
Then we divided everyone up into small groups and they headed out to find their plants and collect the data. Many groups returned after completing their first cluster ready for more, and we completed all of the data collection in under three hours!
After lunch, the group wanted to keep working and agreed to help move a truckload of mulch up a steep trail to an area in the middle of the forest where we have been removing invasive blackberries. This mulch will help retain water and soil and slow the return of the blackberries. A bucket brigade made us more efficient, but there was no getting around the fact that hauling 20 yards of mulch up a steep slope is a labor intensive job, and we all celebrated as the 'final bucket' made it's way up the hill.
We were thrilled to be able to host the Expedia volunteers for their Day of Caring and so appreciate everyone's hard work and incredible can-do attitude. Both projects needed a large group, and will have a significant positive impact on North Creek Forest. Thank you, Expedia, for your service, and many thanks to all the FNCF Board and Committee members who made this event possible. We will post some maps showing the results of what we learned as soon as we have had the opportunity to evaluate the data.
Our next public work party is this Saturday, September 16, from 10am-1pm. We will be spreading the mulch hauled last week (among other things) and would love to see you there! Visit our Volunteer Park for more info.
It’s Wednesday morning at 10am and campers begin to arrive with their families. Parents look around a little nervous with lots of questions. Students look around and at each other, also a little nervous but with no questions. They are standing in a patch of bare land, with invasive blackberry starting to creep in and the loud sound of cars on I-405 filling their ears. Once the parents leave and everyone is accounted for, we head into the forest and up to the well trail. Pushing through restoration sites, past a few healthy salmonberries, a soft thimbleberry, and finally under a low hanging big leaf maple branch; we enter into another world. Almost like a cathedral, the canopy is high and full of light filtering through various shades of green leaves. The sword ferns spread out across the ground, providing cover for little creatures in the forest. We make our way up the trail and keep an eye out for stinging nettle. Once we make it to the old well, we circle up with Devil’s club and begin our introductions. This is the first scene of our pilot summer camp at North Creek Forest. It was a week full of hiking, games, science, and fun. Together with our two new interns and a volunteer from our education committee, 12 middle schoolers spent a fun three days learning about our forest family.
After some team building games and the compilation of a community agreement, we began the week introducing the students to their plant relatives. Each camper became an expert of a particular plant and taught each other about the habitat, life cycle, and relationships within the ecosystem. We did a little journaling, with campers focusing on the details of their plant. The assignment was to draw a sketch of the plant and label the different parts. Before we knew it, the day was over and parents were beginning to arrive. We had a quick debrief about the day and we hoped the campers would return the next day.
And they did! This time, we met at our office at UW Bothell. We stopped in the food garden and did some stretching and breathing. On our way down to the North Creek Wetlands, we stopped and looked out over the forest and wetlands contemplating the beauty of the watershed. Campers were asked to count how many shades of green they saw as we began our day learning about the lowland forest ecosystem. We broke up into plant family groups based on each camper’s plant from the previous day. After a quick introduction to the arcGIS collector app and a habitat features data sheet in their journals, we headed out on the trail through the wetlands. Along the way, campers worked together to locate their plants and mark them on the map. They also made notes of the habitat features within each location to better understand the needs and relationships of their plants. We saw many cool things along the way, like a beaver slide and sedge filled trails. By the time we made it to the forest, we were tired and hungry. After lunch, we made our way up the trail and played a hearty game of Marco Polo, making and mapping a new trail along the way. Again, time flew by and it was time to go again. We waited for parents while devouring cold watermelon and conversation flowed much more freely as we began to bond as a team.
The final day was centered around humans in the ecosystem. How can we hurt or help our plant relatives? Campers learned about invasive species and how urban development impacts the forest’s ability to recover from damage or degradation. We spent the morning removing invasive blackberry from our gathering site and pulling trash from a rubble pile. Campers found some really interesting unidentifiable pieces of machinery and they proceeded to create some great stories to explain the history mystery. After lunch, we went into the forest near the stream and campers built ecosystems made from dirt and any materials they found nearby. Each group was asked to explain how their ecosystem would support each of their plant relatives. The kids had a blast playing in the dirt and working together to solve problems like large rock extraction. When they were finished, we damaged or destroyed part of their models with different real world problems, asking them what actions they might take to help the habitat recover. Each group came up with some really complex problem solving solutions. During our closing circle, I was a little emotional. The future generations of this world will be dealing with many issues and I am confident they will adapt with love and care of our precious plant relatives.
Are you excited to see more programs like this in North Creek Forest? Your donation helps us bring thoughtful, fun and engaging nature programming to the community.
Many thanks to everyone who joined Governor Jay Inslee for the April 28 Ribbon Cutting in North Creek Forest. It was a wonderful celebration of what a dedicated group of partners can do when we work together! For more coverage of the Ribbon Cutting, visit the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter.
Many thanks to PCC, Social Grounds Coffee, The Yakima Fruit Stand, and Cash and Carry for providing breakfast for all attendees.