Kellene Collins from Bellevue plants wild strawberries and snowberries.

Volunteers Restore Gold Creek Pond

Volunteers Plant Natives, Restore Gold Creek Pond

Thirty-eight volunteers were soaked and muddy last Saturday after five hours of digging 1,000 six-inch-deep by eight-inch-wide holes with Pulaski’s and shovels in the hard rocky ground, then planting native wild strawberries and snowberries. On that blustery rainy day, they finished what six work parties started this summer, pulling thirty 40-pound garbage bags of noxious weeds, planting 6,000 native species and restoring the acre and a half of trails, picnic areas and shoreline surrounding Gold Creek Pond on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

It was a project that began two years ago when a team of experts from the Forest Service and Conservation Northwest put together a plan to fight the spread of St. John’s wort and Oxeye Daisy at the highly used recreation area. Last fall, the Forest Service contracted a nursery in Oregon to collect seeds and make cuts for organic hardhacks, wild strawberries and snowberries; all carefully selected to adapt to the area’s 20-foot of winter snowfall.

Laura Potash, the forest botanist, said it couldn’t have been done without volunteers: 240 people contributed more than 650 hours in the last five months. “We’re really grateful for their assistance to accomplish this important work,” she said.

Potash said noxious weeds invaded the recreation area during the past 15 years. She explained that invasive plants can produce severe and permanent effects on recreational and natural resources. “Fifty years from now, it will get a lot worse. A mono-culture of invasive species rules out the possibility of trees. Riparian environments need trees to provide shade for salmon,” she said.

Volunteers participated from Washington Native Plant Society, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, Conservation Northwest, Microsoft, Defenders of Wildlife and the general public. Contact Jen Watkins at jwatkins@conservationnw.org to volunteer on restoration projects such as Gold Creek Pond.

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