Submitted by Kathy Jacobson, outreach consultant, with the Chehalis Lead Entity
On a recent clear Saturday in October, more than 30 volunteers came together to help restore an old gravel quarry, known as the Lower Satsop or Keys Road project. According to Anthony Waldrop, Watershed Restoration Project Manager, with Grays Harbor Conservation District, “This project located east of the Satsop River is to reestablish the historic floodplain function of this area, improve habitat for salmon and other aquatic species and increase floodwater storage.”
With funding from the Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative, in Phase I (2019) of the project, 4 acres were planted with 5,000 trees and shrubs including Western Red Cedar, Oregon Ash and salmonberry. The Grays Harbor Stream Team participated in this planting by bringing out 37 volunteers in two work parties to plant around 2,500 of the plants.
This year, in Phase II of the project, volunteers ranging from 3 years old to adult worked diligently to help plant up to 20,000 wetland emergent plants. The emergents included slough sedge, small-fruited bulrush, and others. These plants are grass-like plants naturally grow in and along the edges of wetlands and rivers, and provide important habitat and food sources for wildlife, filter and trap nutrients and soil, and help to prevent soil erosion.
First time Stream Team volunteer, Zachary Lupfer, learned about the planting during a Zoom micro plastics lesson that Stream Team Coordinator, Alexa Brown was leading for Zachary’s Aberdeen High School biology class. “The planting sounded like fun, “said Zachary. “I just moved to Aberdeen from Spanaway, and with the pandemic, and this sounded like a way to meet new people.” Alexa added, “While also keeping a healthy social distance.”
Alannah Cross shared, “I’m a student at Grays Harbor College in the four-year forestry program. With all of my classes now on-line, this is a great chance to work outside for a good cause, and to stay in shape. This will also help me build my resume, and to encourage other new students to work outside.” Alannah hopes to one day work in stewardship forestry, which focuses on reforestation and building healthy and resilient forests.
At the planting, the Giuntoli family of five was present, as dad, Josh Giuntoli heard about the project with his work with the Washington State Conservation Commission. Daughter, Zoe, a sophomore at Tumwater High School said, “I wanted to come outside with my family and help out the local environment.”
Hoquiam High School junior, Ellie Winkelman encouraged her mom and younger sister to join in the planting. Ellie said, “I really like helping to clean up the environment, and I work hard to have a smaller carbon footprint. As the current ‘Miss Bowerman Basin’, my pledge is to clean up plastics from our waters. I really like to look back at what we did. It provides me with a sense of accomplishment.”
Laura Lopez and Sam Howell have been active volunteers in many of the Stream Team events, and shared, “We are doing what we can to make a small difference.”
Alexa said, “I believe that our volunteer stream restoration projects bring the community closer together around being stewards of our public lands and waterways. During the times of COVID it can be hard to have safe social interactions and these work parties provide the space for that. Not only do you get to meet enthusiastic individuals from your community you can also make a difference in doing so!”
A partnership was also formed between Grays Harbor Stream Team and a local brewery, Olympus Brewery. With the help of employee, and life-long “Harborite” Daryl Blumberg, the brewery featured a specialty small batch of Stream Team beers. According to Daryl, “At Mount Olympus Brewing Company the hops and malts that we used when brewing the Stream Team NW Style Fest Lager are certified Salmon-Safe (salmonsafe.org) and grown in the Pacific Northwest. Farms certified as “Salmon Safe” practice land management practices that limit the impact on salmon habitat by using less water and pesticides, and thereby reducing pollution from stormwater runoff. Daryl also added, “This is our local community. My wife and I live on a homestead near the project site that’s been in my wife’s family since 1896. These plantings will also help to prevent lost land alongside the river to erosion.”
Here’s a list of upcoming Streamteam events to keep you outdoors and engaged in your local community!
- Willow Planting on Wildcat Creek, in McCleary Saturday, November 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
- Wynoochee Valley Road Planting Party, Saturday, December 5, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
- Lower Satsop Planting, Saturday, January 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
For more information on these and any other Grays Harbor County Streamteam activities, please email coordinator Alexa Brown, at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Grays Harbor Stream Team Facebook page.