The Landscape Leaves a Mark on Us

By Claire Cook | June 2016

Claire Cook, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator

Claire Cook, AmeriCorps Volunteer Coordinator

It’s a cool morning in early June, and I am making the familiar turn down the driveway to our Red Salmon Creek Protected Area. In the short time that I have been with the Land Trust, this simple act has started to evoke feelings of nostalgia. I drive past the clearing where I cut and grubbed my first blackberry vine, over Washburn Creek where I helped Mrs. Bulldis’s 4th grade class collect water quality data, and up the hill to the restoration site that, until recently, was home to only pasture grass.

In the parking area, I am greeted by volunteers whose astounding dedication to the Land Trust and its mission has left a lasting mark on the landscape. During my service term we have had 14 volunteer work parties at this property, where we’ve managed to pull countless pounds of invasive species (over 1,000 pounds of English ivy alone), plant 3,000 native trees and shrubs, install protective plant tubes around 2,250 new plantings, and remove protective plant tubes from many trees that had outgrown them.

A planted pasture after the 2016 planting

This site offers a clear snapshot of the restoration progress that has been made. The most recent plantings are framed by trees and shrubs that were planted nine years ago, and the 60-year-old stand of trees in the background offers a vision of where things are headed. The Land Trust’s exists to conserve natural areas in perpetuity. As we take in the morning air, I find myself thinking about perpetuity and what an unfathomable amount of time that is. I find it much easier to look at the second-growth stand of trees in the distance and imagine what this open field will look like in another 60 years.

Jan_2016_Volunteers help with supplemental planting - 3

Volunteers were critical to completing the supplemental plantings at the pastures

Today we will be hand-pulling non-native hawthorn tree seedlings that are proliferating at this site. They are a particularly nasty tree, with thick woody thorns and delicious berries that compel birds to disseminate their seeds far and wide. A volunteer mentions how happy he is that hawthorn is only found growing on this particular Land Trust property, and I am struck by the commitment that volunteers have to the work that we do. Whether we are deep in a thicket of blackberry or tending to trees damaged by snow, you will find a group of hearty volunteers tackling each task with gusto.

As my service term draws to a close, I am honored to have worked with such a tenacious group of community members. Just as our stewardship work leaves a lasting mark on the landscape, the landscape leaves a mark on us, and it is this impact that galvanizes our commitment to conserving and caring for the natural areas that nourish us.