Shoreline Cleanup Along the Nisqually River

Wilcox Flats 2014 Spring Tire Cleanup

Volunteers from active duty military Army soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord were key to a cleanup organized Saturday at Wilcox Flats by the Nisqually Land Trust. The group of 25 workers, including 17 from JBLM, hauled out 120 tires over three hours.

JBLM Active-Duty Military Join in on Volunteer Trash Removal

The Nisqually Land Trust hosts and organizes weekly Wednesday work parties and two to three Saturday work parties each month all year-round.

These events range from tree plantings to invasive species removal. On Saturday, April 12, our goal was to remove as much trash and debris as possible in three hours from the floodplain habitats at our Wilcox Flats site.

Luckily for us, we had the help of 25 hardworking volunteers, including 17 active-duty military from the Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Just to give you a glimpse of the day’s work, imagine 187 acres of dense vegetation coupled with randomly strewn flood debris throughout the site. We decided to focus on removing as many tires as possible — most of these tires in channels choked out by invasive weeds.

Once we got them out of the streambanks, we had to move them to a place where they could be easily removed. This took carrying the tires more than 100 yards through dense vegetation, across a beaver dam, and to the road where a truck could haul them away.

Needless to say, we got dirty. It’ll be a lifelong memory for me seeing Sgt. William Bell, the coordinator with the Army who brought his guys out to volunteer, covered head to toe in mud telling me, “You know, this is pretty tiresome.”

We removed more than 120 tires from that site in three hours. This is vital for the overall health of the system, for wildlife, water quality, and all the fish that swim in the Nisqually River. We would not have the means or time to remove these tires without the help of volunteers, and I feel fortunate to have the help from a group of this size. I am in my second term as a Washington Service Corps AmeriCorps member with the Nisqually Land Trust as the volunteer and outreach coordinator.

I organize and coordinate these volunteer events to get people on the land. I am incredibly passionate about connecting people to the land we all share, love, and rely on.

I returned for a second year of AmeriCorps service with the Land Trust because of success stories like this one; there is a definite positive outcome for the land and, hopefully, a positive impact on individuals that can carry these ideas with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a legacy that can hopefully be carried along into future generations within the Nisqually Watershed.

Nisqually Valley News – Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 3:12 pm | Updated: 4:50 pm, Fri Apr 18, 2014. 

Submitted by Cris Peck Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for Nisqually Land Trust