News of Madison Valley

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt: A History of Community Activism, Chapter 5

MAY 17, 2017 | CATHERINE NUNNELEY

In the first four chapters, we learned of the past 20-year history of our Greenbelt. Now we come to today’s restoration efforts.

Continued work in the Greenbelt has been done by two sets of neighborhood volunteers. First, Evelyn Hall and I worked together for a few years. Then, the past three years have been under my and Trina Wherry’s stewardship.

 

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Catherine Nunneley and Trina Wherry

 

As restoration efforts expanded the area cleared and planted, maintenance became almost unmanageable for just two stewards. We were so busy maintaining the newly planted area that further restoration was incremental in spite of our best efforts. We were feeling overwhelmed.

Three years ago, however, the Bush Middle School students and their teacher, Ben Wheeler, rescued us. Ben began to teach a class in Urban Forestry as part of Bush’s elective curriculum. About a dozen eager students come to the Greenbelt twice a year and have made a huge contribution. Ben does some classroom teaching and then we provide the fieldwork experience.

 

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Bush School students

 

The students use picks and loppers to remove invasive plants such as ivy and blackberries. They create “life rings” around trees to protect them from the invasives. A layer of burlap and wood chips is then put down over the newly bare areas.

Each session has its own rewards. In spring, the students experience the bare branches of shrubs and trees at the beginning of their session and then delight in the leafing out and flowering that occurs over the weeks.

Fall’s reward is the installation of new plants. The Parks Department delivers a treasure trove of native ferns, trees, and shrubs that were ordered by the Greenbelt’s forest stewards. It’s tons of fun to plant the new forest baby plants.

Both classes do ongoing maintenance in the older areas. Seattle Parks Dept with Forterra provide all the gloves and tools in a big, locked job box on site. The students come to the Greenbelt for five weeks and do the work that it would take us several months alone. There are no adequate words to describe our appreciation.

 

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Bush School students

 

Trina and I also meet at the site at least yearly with the Forterra volunteer coordinator, Andrea Mojzak, Seattle Parks gardener, Sara Franks, and our new plant ecologist Will Pablo. We walk the site with them and discuss problems, solutions and future plans. It’s wonderful!

This year the trees and shrubs we planted in 2011 are finally becoming part of the larger forest. It’s quite a beautiful sight and an integral part of the community.

The Harrison Ridge Greenbelt is still a large wild area in need of ongoing restoration and maintenance. Although we are squeaking by with the Bush School help, it would be so much better to have some involvement from the community. We have not been successful requesting volunteers from the neighborhood even with small events. We are trying again to encourage participation with an upcoming work party.

Trina and I will host a summertime work party to introduce this community treasure to the neighbors and perhaps spur interest in ongoing support. We certainly hope to see YOU there!

Saturday, July 15, 10AM to noon
32nd Ave E between E John and E Denny. (signage will be in place)
All tools will be provided but bring your favorites if you prefer.
Coffee and snacks provided
Restroom facilities at nearby businesses
Contact: Cathy Nunneley cjnunneley@yahoo.com

It’s because of neighbors like you who appreciate the natural beauty of the Greenbelt that we have been able to save this little sliver of forest for ourselves and future generations.

 

Topics: Beautification, Nature