Guest Author! Woody Wheeler writes "Forest Saved! Time for Stewardship, Education"
The Overstory, a recent best-selling book by Richard Powers, profiled militant forest activists in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, just northeast of Seattle in Bothell, Washington, a kinder, gentler approach was employed by the Friends of North Creek Forest for a more than a decade. It worked!
This month, six intrepid souls arrived early for my bird walk. None of them mentioned the rain or the muddy uphill walk ahead. Who were these folks? Friends of North Creek Forest; they helped save this forest.
It is a good thing the Friends acted when they did. The project happened during a down-turn in the real estate market, which has since become white-hot again. Dense new housing developments now press up against the forest borders.
The land itself is now a mostly-wild 64-acre park and nature refuge with one main trail leading through a central ravine in the burgeoning town of Bothell, Washington.
I became involved in this project more than a decade ago when a friend asked me to sit in on one of their meetings. Next thing I knew, I was consulting with them on non-profit management, fundraising and communication. Ten years later, after untold hours put in by the Friends, the dream came true: North Creek Forest became a Bothell City Park.
As their mission states, the Friends are committed to the forest’s long-term health: To maintain and improve the ecological function of North Creek Forest Through education, stewardship and conservation in perpetuity.
Their efforts enhance the forest and build community. This was evident when I visited the forest twice to scout and lead a bird walk. Thirty volunteers led by Sarah Witte, Board president and stewardship committee chair were also there, planting and mulching native plants.
Regarding the importance of this work, Witte said: “Removing invasive species and replanting native flora increases the health and sustainability of the forest as a whole, and increases the value of its ecosystem services such as water filtration, food and habitat, and carbon sequestration. What we give to the forest it returns a hundred times over in clean air and water, and a stronger connection to the nature and people around us.”
Our bird walk revealed Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets flittering through brambles and evergreen boughs, calling in their squeaky, chattery voices.
North Creek Forest Park represents a legacy for present and future generations. The Friends’ commitment to ongoing stewardship and education ensures that the park will remain an outstanding natural area.
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