Tree Seedling “Weeds” Saved For Shoreline Restoration

by Katie Kirdahy | February 2017

Katie Kirdahy – 2016-17 AmeriCorps Member

Over the past few years, one of the projects coordinated by the AmeriCorps member serving at the Nisqually Land Trust is a conifer salvage event that is hosted in partnership with the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM). Organizing this salvage and participating in it was a highlight for me during the last few months.

At the plant salvage, volunteers dug up small Douglas-fir and Shore Pine from prairie habitat and then they potted these tree seedlings in 1-gallon pots, so that the trees can be planted on Land Trust properties next winter. This is a great way for CNLM to remove trees, which are considered weeds in South Sound prairie habitats, and a way for the Land Trust to acquire trees at a low cost. These native conifers are used to restore riparian forests throughout the Nisqually River watershed. It is also an opportunity to connect the Nisqually Land Trust volunteers with another local habitat restoration organization and its volunteers.

Collecting Tree Seedlings; Photo Credit: Meredith Rafferty

This year more than twenty volunteers attended this event, representing CNLM, the Nisqually Land Trust, and the Olympia Mountaineers. We collected one thousand trees, which will find new homes in clearings, former pastures, and abandoned roads on Land Trust properties. Many of the dedicated volunteers who helped at this volunteer event will join us again next year to replant the trees they rescued this year. These tree seedlings seem so small now, but I’ve had a chance to see the growth of the trees planted over the last 10 years on Land Trust property and it’s amazing to think about the visual impact these tree seedlings will have on the landscape. As well as the benefits they will provide to fish and wildlife in the years to come.

On salvage day one particular volunteer’s experience stood out, a man in his early twenties who had never volunteered to do any kind of habitat restoration activities before. He decided to come to the salvage as his second volunteer event with the Nisqually Land Trust. It was great to see him connect with the other volunteers, and enjoy the process of collecting the trees. I’m glad that after this extra-long day of volunteering he continues to attend volunteer events and plans to bring his younger sister along as well.

Potting up tree seedlings

My favorite part of serving as the Land Trust’s volunteer coordinator is connecting people to the land. Volunteers are critical to the Nisqually Land Trust. Each time they attend an event, take on new responsibilities, or share their service with the people they care about I see how their investment of time and energy is improving these wild places. My AmeriCorps service experience has helped me to realize how much I enjoy serving with volunteers and how habitat restoration is a powerful way to engage people with the environment. I look forward to continuing to connect others with the natural world in the future.

Glacial Heritage; Photo Credit: Meredith Rafferty