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Jan 19

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Caring

Posted to Conservation Corner by Laura Wagner

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15th, Pierce Conservation District hosted four different invasive plant removal work parties at Bradley Lake Park, Silver Creek, Deadman’s Pond, and Whittier Park. Though the temperature only reached 20 degrees and the ground was frozen in some locations, over 55 volunteers across our restoration work parties braved the weather to serve their community. A surprise visit by Executive Director Dana Coggon with warming goodies was a huge help in the cold!

Dana sports a jacket and PCD Beanie while handing out beanies and handwarmers

Executive Director Dana Coggon poses with important goods for 20 °F weather: free beanies and handwarmers. Begone cold fingers and ears!

January 15th is a national day for people to celebrate the legacy and work of Martin Luther King Jr. People honor Dr. King’s legacy in various ways; educating themselves about his work, learning about historical and modern injustices, doing advocacy work, volunteering, or serving their community. Many Pierce County Residents honor the work of Dr. King on the 15th through community service opportunities like the ones hosted by Pierce Conservation District.

AmeriCorps Day of Service

Pierce Conservation District hosts seven AmeriCorps members who provide volunteer service to improve their local communities. These seven members cover a wide range of services here at the Conservation District with at least one person serving in each of our branches; Harvest Pierce County, Farm & Agricultural Assistance, Water Quality Improvement, Habitat Improvement, and Public Communications.

For AmeriCorps members, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a National Day of Service. National Days of Service are special opportunities to address community needs, collaborate with other AmeriCorps members, and show the difference AmeriCorps members make nationwide, among other opportunities. On their Day of Service, our members dedicated themselves to a service project in their community that will create lasting change for years to come. All of these AmeriCorps members joined one of the four restoration work parties Pierce Conservation District hosted on Monday. Pierce Conservation District was also joined by three AmeriCorps members from Habitat for Humanity at Bradley Lake Park for their Day of Service.

Three people hold a gigantic blackberry root wad and their shovels

Three Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps members proudly show off the massive blackberry root wad they extracted at Bradley Lake Park!

Our AmeriCorps Gleaning Specialist from Harvest Pierce County, Lex Barnard, was excited to have the opportunity to attend one of the district restoration work parties. “As a worker under Harvest Pierce County, I normally don’t have the availability to attend the other branches’ work parties. I had a lot of fun getting to experience a new side of PCD and improve local habitat!”

How This Work Impacts Each Site

All of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day volunteers did invasive plant removal work that will positively impact those sites’ riparian habitats for years to come. 

While Bradley Lake Park is now a lovely public space, it initially existed as a peat bog. For decades, it has lacked the biodiversity and native plants that it needs. However, thanks to years of hard work by Pierce Conservation District and countless volunteers, Bradley Lake Park is gradually growing into a healthy, biodiverse space! The removal of invasive species this past Monday ensured that the new plants we installed last year and the ones we will plant this year have a low competition from invasive plants. 

The ongoing efforts at Whittier Park focus on the invasive plant presence creeping down from a nearby residential area. English ivy is very prevalent in this space. The relentless efforts of all 21 volunteers to remove invasives from this site made a huge difference for the quality of water that flows through the ground.

Over by Silver Creek, the invasive plant removal site was right along the length of the stream where growing pollinators reside. Removing those plants along Silver Creek ensures that this salmon bearing stream has healthy, good quality water and that the pollinators nearby have the nutritious soil and water that they need to thrive.

One of the most important creatures living in Deadman’s Pond habitat is the endangered Western Pond Turtle! While we aren’t directly involved in efforts to restore their population, the work we do to protect their habitat indirectly helps Western Pond Turtles. The invasive blackberry removal on Monday not only protects the recently planted pollinator garden from competition with invasive plants, but it also indirectly provides high quality water for the pond.

A group of volunteers at Deadman's Pond take a selfie with Dana Coggon

Everyone at Deadman's Pond huddles together for a quick selfie with Dana Coggon

We hope you all had a wonderful Martin Luther King Jr. Day this Monday. We see firsthand how much Pierce County residents like you care for our community. Though Martin Luther King Jr. Day is only one day of the year, we show up for our community in many ways throughout the year. If you're looking for a chance to step up for your community, consider joining one of our many work parties listed on our Calendar of Events & Volunteer Opportunities.

Dec 22

Hatchery Field Trip Program Finishes 2023 Strong

Posted to Environmental Education by Gracie DeMeo

by Maddie Snook

Two volunteers holding up a sign that says "Thank You Hatchery Volunteers!"

Two education docents, Georga and Patty holding a banner gifted by the Puyallup School District. 

That’s a wrap on our field trips at the hatchery for 2023! From September to December, Pierce Conservation District assisted the Puyallup Historical Hatchery Foundation and Puyallup School District with a STEM program to give every 4th-grade class in the school district a learning opportunity that will last a lifetime. Students had an opportunity to see real salmon spawning in Clark’s Creek, learn about the salmon life cycle, and discover how humans have affected their population. Now, over 2,200 students are salmon conservation stewards! Thank you to our education docent volunteers, without whom these field trips would not happen. 

An education docent holding up their hand and pointing to their palm, while students in coats listenEducation docent Isabel teaching students how to remember the five species of salmon in Washington using the "high-five" method.

A hand showing each of the five fingers as they relate to salmon.

The "high-five" method for remembering salmon species, courtesy of Andrew Chan from The Sierra Club.

Jan 29

Rappelling for Restoration: Crews Share Steep Slope Safety Skills

Posted to Habitat Improvement by Gracie DeMeo

Crew supervisor Dan Nakamura demonstrating knots for the team assembled.

Tacoma crew supervisor Dan Nakamura demonstrates safety knots.

Earlier this winter, restoration crews from Pierce and Thurston Conservation Districts spent the day with the City of Tacoma’s Washington Conservation Corps crews at the McKinley Slope Restoration area overlooking the Tacoma Dome and the Thea Foss Waterway. Through a dense fog, crew members watched demonstrations of knot tying, rope work, and safety instructions for accessing steep slopes for restoration planting. The City of Tacoma’s crew supervisors Kevin Sandin and Dan Nakamura bring over ten years of experience to steep slope restoration and generously shared their best techniques and lessons learned. 

TCD crew members try their hand at erosion control fabric installation after a demonstration from th

Tacoma crew supervisor Kevin Sandin teaches the crew members techniques for installing and planting into erosion control fabric.

By mid-morning it was time to hit the slopes. With continued instruction, the crews planted, mulched, and installed erosion control fabric on the McKinley Slope to supplement previous planting efforts.

PCD’s WCC crew finishes their installation of erosion control fabric to support a restoration planti

 Crew members try their hand at erosion control fabric installation after a demonstration from the City of Tacoma.

Conservation Districts and municipalities partner with a number of restoration crews from organizations like AmeriCorps’ Washington Conservation Corps program, to accomplish on-the-ground conservation. These are the folks who get things done! 

Pierce Conservation District and City of Tacoma’s WCC crews at the steep slope training.

Pierce Conservation District’s Washington Conservation Corps crew finishes their installation of erosion control fabric to support a restoration planting.

Starting this year, the Pierce crew is gearing up to support our Shore Friendly Pierce program, which sponsored this training opportunity. Restoration crews take on all kinds of projects, gaining new skills and experience along the way. Cross-trainings like this one expand the work our crew is able to do for conservation in Pierce County. 

Pierce Conservation District and City of Tacoma’s WCC crews at the steep slope training.

Pierce Conservation District and City of Tacoma’s WCC crews at the steep slope training.