2014 MLK Day of Service

The Nisqually Land Trust acquires, manages, and protects critical land throughout the entire Nisqually River Watershed. Our community members are individuals that identify as being within the watershed boundaries, anyone that receives water or electricity from the river, and also those who use the land for recreational purposes. The Nisqually River is a salmon-bearing stream, and we work to protect and improve riparian and upland habitats that are vital for the anadromous fish life cycle. The Nisqually Land Trust now owns and manages over 4,600 acres from Mt. Rainier to the Puget Sound – that’s a lot of work.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is a great way to get individuals involved within your community. The Nisqually Land Trust hosted an MLK Day event in Yelm, WA with amazing results. We had 48 volunteers help us throughout the day! That is by far the largest event I’ve personally hosted with the Nisqually Land Trust. We performed a variety of restoration activities including tree planting, Scotch Broom removal, Himalayan Blackberry removal, burlap weed control, and native tree salvage. We worked all day at a site directly on the Nisqually River. It was a rainy day, but spirits were high! We planted over 550 native trees throughout the site and removed approximately an acre of Blackberry. There was a large AmeriCorps turnout for this event! We not only had eight Individual Placement members from around Thurston County attend, but a crew of eight National Civilian Community Corps crew join us that day! They were working in Eatonville, WA at Northwest Trek and had heard about our opportunity on MLK Day and decided to join us. Overall, we had 16 AmeriCorps members including myself! We would not be able to complete these large restoration projects without the help of dedicated volunteers.

The biggest challenge for me was being able to properly coordinate the activities of all 48 volunteers. I had my hands full for the day. It’s a wonderful feeling to see all the work that was completed at the end of the service day – it looked like a totally different property. The major benefits of this hard work will not be seen for many years. It’s a legacy that I hold close to the core of my being. Some of the trees that we salvaged or planted could end up living to be 500 to 1,000 years old, and even in the short term will provide better habitat for wildlife and anadromous fish species. It’s great to see the wide demographic in these volunteers events – we had elementary aged kids planting their roots in conservation, and we also had retirees giving their time for a greater cause. The success for me lies within the impact of individual lives within the community; that they take a minute to think about how their lifestyle may affect the planet that we all love and share.

Story of Service by Cris Peck, AmeriCorps Member – Nisqually Land Trust Volunteer Coordinator