Good Humor and Flexibility Save The Day

by Charly Kearns | January 2017

Charly Kearns

For the past few years, the Nisqually Land Trust has chosen to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by focusing on habitat restoration in our watershed, rather than take the day off. It is evident by our huge volunteer turnouts, that many in our community feel the same way.

Since the holiday falls in the middle of our planting season, we have typically had volunteers help plant native trees and shrubs. That was the plan for this year too. Our Stewardship Team loaded our truck up with 300 potted plants, shovels, and plant protector tubes; and we headed to the site to meet the volunteers. There was just a thin blanket of snow on the landscape making the sunny morning extra bright.

Upon arrival, we discovered that recent freezing temperatures had frozen our plants into solid blocks of ice! While this shouldn’t damage the plants, it did affect our plans for the day. No matter how hard we tried, we weren’t able to get any of the trees out of their plastic pots! With 40+ volunteers expected, and no way to complete our day’s project, we had to come up with an alternative plan.

Peterson Road – Heading towards the ivy.

Thankfully (sarcasm intended), there is a large patch of invasive English ivy nearby. With no special tools, other than sheer volunteer power, we removed more than 1,000 pounds of ivy from the site in just 3 hours! Additionally, volunteers cut away ivy vines from all the trees that were getting smothered in the area. This will make a big impact on slowing this plant down, and limiting its spread into other nearby areas. We are very thankful for all of the energy that volunteers provided. At the end of the day, the truck was piled high with bags of ivy headed for the landfill.

In the afternoon, we took some time to harvest some willow and cottonwood cuttings and plant them onsite.

While the day didn’t go as we originally planned, we were still able to accomplish an incredible amount in a short time. This gives me one more reason to be thankful for our volunteers. They are flexible and good humored – two very important characteristics when it comes to working outdoors in Washington’s winter weather. Here’s a big “Shout Out” to our volunteers, from this event and every other event. You Inspire Me!

And a Special Thank You to those who were willing and able to give up a holiday to come do hard physical labor for one of the special places in the Nisqually Watershed.