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Volunteers restore Gold Creek Pond for wildlife

Posted by Jen Watkins at Nov 07, 2012 12:20 PM |

Yesterday with the help of two volunteers, we put the last plants in the ground to complete a huge restoration project at Gold Creek!

Volunteers restore Gold Creek Pond for wildlife

Volunteer Kellene restores natives around Gold Creek Pond, near the new wildlife underpasses you helped bring to I-90. Thank you to the volunteers and participating groups!

Yesterday with the help of two volunteers, we put the last plants in the ground to complete a huge restoration project at Gold Creek!

This fall, 100 volunteers braved rain, snow, and sunshine to plant nearly 6,000 native plants to restore habitat just east of Snoqualmie Pass.  Three large volunteer parties were held to restore the habitat surrounding Gold Creek Pond on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  This habitat is just north of the wildlife underpass being constructed as part of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project, and just south of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

It was a project that began two years ago when a team of experts from the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forests and Conservation Northwest put together a plan to fight the spread of St. John’s wort and Oxeye Daisy at the highly used recreation area in the important I-90 wildlife corridor. Last fall, the Forest Service contracted a nursery in Oregon to collect seeds and make cuts for organic hardhacks, wild strawberries and snowberries; all carefully selected to adapt to the area’s 20-foot of winter snowfall.

Laura Potash, the forest botanist, said it couldn’t have been done without volunteers,  “We’re really grateful for their assistance to accomplish this important work.". Citing the noxious weeds which had invaded this important wildlife and recreation area during the past 15 years, she explained that invasive plants can produce severe and permanent effects on recreational and natural resources. “Fifty years from now, it will get a lot worse. A mono-culture of invasive species rules out the possibility of trees. Riparian environments need trees to provide shade for salmon,” she said.

See the work parties in progress on Conservation Northwest's Flickr page.

Although the last plant has been planted for this season, the story in the I-90 corridor continues.  This winter our volunteers are getting trained in snowtracking skills as part of the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, and they will hopefully record some of the first stories of wildlife crossing safely under Interstate 90 in the newly constructed wildlife underpasses, like this coyote that got an early start. This spring after the snow melts, we’ll return to the site to spread wood chips on all of the planting sites and pull invasives. Then next fall, we’ll be back to cut and plant willows along the water’s edge and collect native seeds. All the while, restoration will begin underneath I-90 as contractors begin to place large wood and rocks in the underpass to facilitate wildlife use and prepare for larger plantings in the years to come.

Let us know if you want to participate in any of this work, and stay tuned as we bring the next installation of this conservation success story unfolding.

Thank you to the many organizations and individuals that made this fall’s work possible.  Volunteers participated not only from our own amazing supporters, but from Washington Native Plant Society, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, Microsoft, Defenders of Wildlife.  A crew from Mountains to Sound Greenway also assisted in clean up from the planting parties, and put in two full days work in the project area. Thank you!

Want to help ensure your own yard is better for wildlife? Use our free native plants guide.
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