holyoutlaw: (me meh)

Three Forks is one of my favorite places to work because it has a great view of the south side of Mt. Si, which is practically across the road. I worked there many times last summer, with groups large and small — just a few Parks staff, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and employees of the Norton Group (who gave us a BBQ lunch!), students from Ryther, and others I’m sure. What we had done is work on clearing blackberry from along the shoreline and in a small meadow.

Employees of The Norton Group and King County park staff work to clear blackberry at Three Forks Natural Area in July.

Employees of The Norton Group and King County park staff work to clear blackberry at Three Forks Natural Area in July.

Working again in the fall to plant in the cleared areas gave me a good sense of the cycle of restoration work. I’ve been through that cycle several times with North Beach Park, of course, but I felt it strongly Saturday morning.

The weather was perfect: brilliantly sunny, with an overnight frost that made the morning beautiful.

Frost rimed grass.

Frost rimed grass.

Unfortunately, the overnight cold temperatures had turned the potted plants into potted popsicles. We spent the first hour digging holes to give the plants time to thaw.

A field of popsicles, staged for planting.

A field of popsicles, staged for planting.

About eight members of the Northwest Fly Anglers joined us. Over the course of about four hours, collectively we planted nearly 300 plants. Trees and shrubs along the shoreline, and trees a little upland.

Northwest Fly Anglers Conservation.

Northwest Fly Anglers Conservation.

The planting had been delayed by three weeks, two floods, and four cancelled events, as the Parks project manager put it. Flooding had moved lots of plants, so before the volunteers arrived Parks staff had to restage them. You could see the flooding in two ways. Many plants had a layer of river silt on top of the potting soil.

River silt on top of potting soil.

River silt on top of potting soil.

Another way you could see the effects of the flooding was that many of the pots had a layer of dirt on one side.

River silt on the pots.

River silt on the pots.

When I had last been to this site in early August, there was a gravel bar large enough to comfortably hold 50 people for lunch. Here it is from last Saturday.

The lunchroom gravel bar completely covered.

The lunchroom gravel bar completely covered.

Keep in mind that this is several feet below the height of the flood — where my coworker (she’s brandishing the shovel) and I are standing would have been a couple feet under water.

The sun was warm enough to keep us comfortable as we worked. We were even able to wrap up early enough for the Parks project manager to give the fly fishermen a brief tour of the site, including Morgan Creek and the conjunction of Morgan Creek and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie.

If I work for King County Parks again next summer, I’m sure I’ll return to this site several times. The plants will need mulching and weeding, and maybe watering. There’s also more blackberry to remove.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

Note: On another venue (Dreamwidth), people were declaring December a “topic open house,” and asking for topics to write about. So far, the requests I’ve gotten are on-topic for this blog as well, so I’ll post them here (probably more spread out than every day). The first question was “What is my favorite NW Plant?”

My first thought was: how could I choose between osoberry and skunk cabbage? Both are very early bloomers, the first plants you’ll see blooming in the forest — skunk cabbage starts appearing in early March.

Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) Madonna

North Beach Park looks like a terrible wreck during the late winter: all the seeps look highly eroded, the leaves have rotted, everything is all twigs and branches. When these plants start appearing, I feel a sense of relief that it’s going to be all right.

But soon enough, osoberry is joined by red-flowering currant (another early-blooming shrub), then a number of shrubs burst out at roughly the same time, and osoberry blends into the shrub layer until late August, when it’s one of the first to drop its leaves.

However, skunk cabbage remains distinctive, and that’s why it’s my favorite. Its leaves are bigger than anything you’d expect outside of a tropical rain forest (four and a half feet/ 1.5 meters), which makes it stand out all season long. In the wet areas it thrives in, there isn’t a whole lot else growing. There have been times when we’ve cleared an area but been unable to plant it in the fall, only to see it come back lush with skunk cabbage in the spring.

Also, I know more of its uses: It was an early-spring famine food, even though it’s not very tasty. The leaves were used to line baskets, berry drying racks, and steaming pits. I like this story, related in Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (Pojar & Mackinnon):

In the ancient days, they say, there was no salmon. The Indians had nothing to eat save roots and leaves. Principal among these was the skunk-cabbage. Finally the spring salmon came for the first time. As they passed up the river, a person stood upon the shore and shouted “Here come our relatives whose bodies are full of eggs! If it had not been for me all the people would have starved!” “Who speaks to us?” asked the salmon. “Your uncle, Skunk Cabbage,” was the reply. Then the salmon went ashore to see him, and as a reward for having fed the people he was given an elk-skin blanket and a war club, and was set in the rich, soft soil near the river.

Here are all the photos on Flickr tagged “skunk cabbage.” The variegated purple ones are Eastern Skunk cabbage, and there’s a white one that looks like Calla lilies to me, but the one around the PNW is the yellow-flowered one.

I also have a favorite groundcover, Pacific Water leaf (photos) and a favorite fern, maidenhair fern (photos).

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

As I study North Beach Park, I learn more and more how dynamic it is, and how much of an effect water flow has on it.

We’ve noticed a rill forming on a steep hillside. I think it might have started when some mountain beaver tunnels collapsed, but my theories usually only have a passing relationship to reality.

Here is a picture of the rill. The area of concern starts in the center of the picture and slants down to the left.
The rill
This was taken Saturday (9th), after Drexie and I had installed a few nootka rose live stakes. Nootka rose is supposed to live stake pretty well, and this area is too dry overall for salmonberry.

This is Drexie, in the process of putting the nootka rose into the ground.
Live staking Nootka Rose
The area we were working in was very steep and soft, in that the ground moved under our feet.

On Monday (11th) Tad and I went back to the rill and did some more work. We added a fence or dike made of branches from a fallen alder (there are enough of those around).
Erosion Control Structure

We staked the dike on both sides, then wedged some rolled-up burlap sacks at the base.
Burlap wattles
The burlap provides a finer barricade to the dirt than just the stakes and branches would, yet will still allow water to flow through if necessary. The branches were pushed back over the burlap. Just for belts and braces’ sake, we added some regular stakes on the uphill side of the entire structure.

Last but not least, we added some wood chips to the whole thing.
We could have added another couple buckets of wood chips, but it was time to go.

Still to come: More wood chips and a tree below the structure to buttress the whole thing.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

The other day, Tad, Drexie, and I built what I hope will be an erosion control structure.

There’s been a seep eroding a section of one of the social trails for a couple years now. It’s been getting wider and taking a greater divot out of the trail.

Notch in trail
This photo is from September, 2011, almost exactly two years ago. The notch is wider now, but as usual I forgot to take a picture before we started working.

The structure we built is a cross between a live crib wall and a soft gabion, although nowhere near the scale of either of those links. We had a small failure, less than five feet wide at the base, and eight feet at its widest.

First, Tad cut points into the 2x4s that would become the uprights. We had eight 2x4s, four for uprights and four for braces.
Seep Structure
(Quite the sawhorse there, eh?)

On site, we cleared the seep and slope wall of ivy.
The work area

The soil in North Beach Park is very sandy. It’s slippery when wet and very friable when dry. It sits on glayed soil, which is compacted anaerobic sand. Water seeps through the sandy soil and then travels horizontally when it reaches the glayed soil. The water then acts as a lubricant between the two surfaces, gradually carrying away the soil above. The more I learn about the hydrology of North Beach Park, the more I realize that working with the hydrology will be an important part of the restoration. But I’m glad it’s been a gradual process; I still feel like I could be rushing in too fast.

We drove in the four stakes to be uprights. Then, in the tradition of all DIY projects everywhere, we immediately saw how we should have done it differently. For the braces, we measured the available space, then Tad (most often) cut a piece to length.

Starting the nails
Tad and Drexie would start the nails, then hand down the brace to me. Sometimes I drove the nails, sometimes Drexie.

Once we had the cross braces nailed in, we began to fill the gap between the structure and seep with brush, using mostly downed branches broken or cut to fit. Finally, we cut salmonberry branches from elsewhere in the park and live staked them into the soil around the structure.

Here is a top view.
Looking down
You can see both the brush used to fill and the live stakes.

We hope that the organic material and soil will be trapped by the brush, but the water will still be able to move through. The structure will stabilize the soil around it well enough for the live stakes to establish. Since live stakes, even with salmonberry, have a low establishment rate, we used a LOT (and could probably have used more). In November, we’ll install native wetland plants and shrubs around the seep and the wall.

Here is a front view, from down in the seep.
The structure

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

This spring, the Parks Department gave North Beach Park 1/4 acre of invasive plant clearance on steep slopes, an area volunteers are not allowed to work. I’ve always assumed it was a liability issue, which I think now is only partly the case. I now see it as a skill set issue as well.

I forgot about it until I was asked to review the contract a couple weeks ago. In the meantime, I had allowed a group of volunteers… um… to work on some steep slopes in the very area the crew was being contracted to work. Which caused some confusion we’re still resolving.

In the last week, the crew has come in and done some erosion control and some new invasion removal.

Erosion Control
Here’s a side view of some of the erosion control on the Headwaters Bowl slope.

The jute netting is rolled down the hill. Successive stretches of netting are stitched together. At the top of the slope, a narrow trench is dug, and the netting staked into it with 2×2 stakes. This is covered up when the trench is reburied.

Erosion Control
There were some restoration plantings at the top of the slope that they worked around. They also preserved some restoration plantings at the bottom of the slope. (After taking this picture, we mulched around the plants.)

Erosion Control
Here’s a side view of the HWB slope erosion control. It’s steeper than it looks from this angle. The wood and branches are laid on the jute to weight it down. Here is a view of the slope before removal, with some workers at the bottom to give a sense of scale.

The crew also did some work in another area of the park, even steeper, the North Slope.

Erosion Control
You can see the stitching a little better in this picture. The coir log is laid across horizontally to absorb any street run off from 90th St/25th Ave.

Here’s a side view of the North Slope work.
Erosion Control
It looks like this slope is even steeper than the Headwaters Bowl slope.

And here is the trash the crew got off the North Slope.
This seems about right, a few bags of cans’n'bottles, some fencing, a couple tires.

The full set of ten pictures is on Flickr.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

Ivy Forest

Aug. 1st, 2013 03:06 pm
holyoutlaw: (me meh)

The other day, doing another stream survey, I got a sense of what an ivy forest might look like.

We’ve all seen ivy on the ground, where it “should” be — the roots are shallow, the vines thin. You can easily pull up great stretches of English Ivy. This can lead to what I call “ivy madness”, as you get wrapped up in pulling a root and it leads you 10 feet or more away from where you started.

English Ivy monoculture
In an unmanaged park, ivy can establish monocultures. This photo was taken in 2011, before any work had been done in North Beach Park. The ivy has covered the ground and suppressed all native plants. It was climbing the trees and would have reached the crowns soon enough.

That’s what ivy does. It’s quite happy scampering along on the ground, growing (I’ve heard) up to 7 feet per year. It can also survive in such low-light conditions it can’t be shaded out. If it hits an obstacle, such as a tree, it grows up towards the light.

Ivy infested tree.
Once the ivy reaches the crown, it gets enough sunlight to flower and fruit — well out of reach of human intervention. Pollinators go for the nectar and birds eat the seeds. If beetles or pollinator larvae at the leaves, we might not have as much of a problem with it.

As the ivy climbs the tree, the roots thicken and develop ugly, centipede-looking root hairs that grip the tree. The ivy doesn’t parasitize the tree directly, but the weight of the mass of ivy slows tree growth, and the leaves create a great sail that can bring a tree down in winds it might otherwise have survived.

Ivy roots cut through
Here is what some ivy roots look like cut through. They are far from the thickest we’ve seen in North Beach Park. I remember when we cut through these roots they snapped with quite a loud crack.

Presenting LOG
This is one of the thickest ivy roots from North Beach Park. For scale, that’s lying on a 50 gallon lawn’n'leaf garbage bag.

But the other day I saw a new form that made me think this is what an ivy forest would look like.

I was at the base of a slope that enclosed the Headwaters Bowl (a large wetland where most of the water enters the park). There are few trees growing in the bowl itself as it’s too wet. On the slope there are old trees, but the few saplings aren’t enough for succession. But at the base of the slope, where I was, there were a number of logs that had fallen into the bowl. They were covered with thick ivy vines, still rooted into the ground. The ivy was growing out into the sun and receiving direct sunlight for most of the day; there was very little shade.

Ivy Forest
Note how smooth the vines are — no need for the centipede hairs, I guess.

Ivy leaves in sunlight
And look how different the leaves are — thick, leathery, almost completely filled in. This is what it looks like at the crown of trees.

Just as on the ground, it still twines all around and about. However, these vines are thumb-thick and thicker. They form a more solid thicket than blackberry (you can cut through blackberry with a machete, but this would take a saw). Almost as dense as holly, but less prickly.

I think the ground is too wet for the ivy to root, and most of the rooting happens on the slope. This might make it relatively easy to make a serious dent in this ivy, by cutting it from the logs as if we were making a horizontal survival ring.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

Last Saturday (7/13) was another EarthCorps event at North Beach Park. This one featured ivy removal on a slope at the Headwaters Bowl. The previous work party had about 50 people signed up, but the summer work parties have much smaller attendance. This time, we had about 16 people altogether. This was exactly enough people for the spaces we were working in and the work we had to do.

Tools ready for use
When EarthCorps arrives on site, they set up a couple shade structures and tables, and they set out the tools expected for the day. (They also provide a porta potty and bring a big bag of energy bars. All helpful!)

Now we have a few “before” pictures:

Holly Thicket
Holly thicket Before
About five people (altogether) worked throughout the day on pulling up this holly thicket.

Ivy Platform
Ivy slope: Before
Friends of North Beach Park built this ivy platform in June; we thought that it would last a couple work parties. Not only did one EarthCorps work party completely fill it, but they had to build two more platforms, one for the holly and one for more ivy.

Headwaters Bowl Slope
Ivy slope: Before
This is a partial view of the ivy removal work area. The slope was pretty much an ivy monoculture.

Morning Plan
Planning the morning
Ethan (from EarthCorps) explains the morning plan.

Platform filled in
Platform almost filled
After about an hour of work, the platform was almost filled. Masha (from EarthCorps) in foreground.

Gigantic Holly Root
Holly root.
Tad holds up a holly root. It’s that large brown mass in front of him.

Slope Crew
Slope workers
The morning slope crew poses for a quick snapshot. You can begin to see how much they’ve cleared already, about about 90 minutes of work.

Slope at Lunch Break
Slope at lunch break
The bare slope in this picture was covered in ivy just a short while before. The ivy still visible is just scraps.

For the afternoon, we basically split into three crews. One worked on putting burlap down on the exposed slope, another worked on more ivy removal, and the third returned to the holly thicket.

Afternoon Removal
Afternoon removal
The afternoon removal crew worked in an area that had ivy and sword fern mixed.

Mulching the Slope
Afternoon Slope workers
Even though it’s burlap, it’s still considered mulch. We used up the burlap that was on site, and for the next work party (in September) we will finish covering the slope with burlap and then add some wood chips on top. This will both suppress ivy resurgence and keep the soil moist.

And now a few “after” pictures, taken after the work party was over.

The slope with burlap
After burlap
Since we only had a little burlap, we only did one layer. On other slopes, we’ve done two layers. Even so, there’s enough overlap that there are some areas with two or three layers of burlap. The stakes hold the burlap in place and provide footing as you work up the slope. Starting at the bottom allows you to overlay the burlap like roof shingles. Overall, this will slow down (if not stop) the water to allow it to soak in, rather than just run off.

Holly Thicket After
Holly thicket after
This is the holly thicket, much reduced. Although there is still a lot to do, and we’ll have to keep an eye on this site for a while. Holly can resprout from even tiny root fragments. But they’ll be easy to pull.

Afternoon Debriefing
Masha leads the afternoon debriefing, a quick survey and general feedback.

Trash Haul
Trash pile
And last but not least, the trash haul this time: Three tires, a couple coolers, torn-up mattress, and three contractor bags of bottles’n'cans. Not spectacular, but about average.

Also in the park that day was a film crew for the 48 Hour Film Project, Team Bad Elephant. I didn’t get to see what they were doing, but it was fun to have another group in the park doing something completely unrelated to what we were.

The remaining EarthCorps work parties are on these days. All events meet at the main entrance to the park, 90th St. and 24th Ave NW., and all events are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go here to sign up. As of this writing, they’re not posted yet.

Saturday, September 14 (more removal, mulching of cleared areas)
Wednesday, October 23 (planting!)
Saturday, November 9 (planting!)

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (me meh)

This summer I have a number of questions to answer about the seeps in North Beach Park.

The best way to answer the questions about location, size, and number is by walking the stream from where it bubbles up from the ground to the end of the main park. Maybe this is just an excuse to explore the park in a way I haven’t yet, but I think that’s the rationale for a lot of my so-called “research.”

I used a Garmin eTrex 10 for recording trail and waypoints. But, um, didn’t know how to save, so I lost all that data. The walk was still worthwhile, though, because I worked out a consistent method for data recording and what to observe.

Before I got to the head waters, I noticed something about this yew tree:
Yew (Taxus brevifolia)
This had been almost completely enclosed by a holly and laurel thicket until some of us went at it with a weed wrench. This picture was taken yesterday; compare to this picture taken in April. The angles are pretty different, but it looks to me like the yew is really spreading out towards the light. That was the good news; the bad news is that I’m also seeing more signs of herbivory.

Here is one of the places that underground water bubbles up into the park:
The headwaters

This is at the base of the slope that comes down from 24th Ave. There are a couple others that I’ll have to find. They’re all in the part of the park we call “Headwaters Bowl.”

The Headwaters Bowl is large, flat, and open, surrounded by slopes. There is very little canopy cover, and what there is comes from trees leaning over the bowl from the slopes. This makes the Headwaters Bowl a scrub/shrub wetland.

I did find this small seep:
Small Seep
and took several more picture of it. One of the questions about the seeps is their flow rate. How I’ll do that is yet to be determined. I think a more important issue might be how deep is the soil layer. For instance, because the stream has a sandy bed, the footing there is quite firm, as opposed to places with a deep, saturated soil layer.

Another seep I discovered is very large, about 200-300 square feet. I remember it from other seasons. The footing there is quite firm, which means I think that the soil on the top is being carried into the stream. If that’s the case, I’ll try slowing down the movement with either barriers or plants. If it turns out the seep is running over the glayed soil (anoxic sand), we might have to put down barriers to catch the dirt for a while. I’m reluctant to put down barriers because I think the water will find the one way through, and then channelize and move faster, when the intent is to slow down the water. Straw wattles might do the trick, allowing the water through while trapping the dirt. I’d also like to avoid staking something into the slope, as I think sometimes that just cuts away the part of the slope below the stake.

I’m going to have to start over, not least because of the GPS data not being saved. But that’s part of the fun, I think.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

One of the attractions of urban restoration to me is the way it breaks down the false dichotomy separating nature and the city. It forces us to connect with nature where we are, immediately. Nature is not something we drive to visit, not something remote photographed for the BBC or PBS, it’s right here. Ungainly, degraded perhaps, but still cracking through the cement, still living.

Thierry Cohen photographs cities and their night sky in a very meticulous fashion. He photographs a city during the day; nine so far, all cities large enough that we can recognize them at a glance — Sao Paulo, Paris, New York, Hong Kong. He then eliminates all signs of human activity, as if we had vanished completely.

He records the exact latitude of his position, the angle and direction of the camera, and then travels to a flat place free of light pollution at the exact same latitude. In the case of Hong Kong, that’s the Western Sahara, a distance of 7,800 miles. For New York City, it was the Black Rock Desert. He photographs the exact same night sky that would be visible over the city, even to the camera angle and direction.

He then carefully superimposes that exact sky over the earlier photograph of the cityscape. I’d have no idea if he used the right sky or not, but his meticulousness pays off, particularly when looking at several images in a row or different shots of the same city. We know the variation in climate and location of the cities, these photographs show us the night sky varies over them as well. Sometimes drastically different skies in the same city, depending on where you’re looking. He even works in the shadows of the cityscape, a detail that if missing would hardly be noticed, but when added is stunning.

There are several lessons I get from these photos. One is the distortions of maps and the world: I would never have guessed that New York and the Black Rock Desert, or Hong Kong and the Western Sahara, were the same latitude.

Another is the awesome majesty of the night sky that we’re missing. I grew up in Chicago, and there was so much light pollution that at best you’d see a few stars; the moon itself, if old or new enough, disappeared in the haze. I was 18 before I saw my first deep sky unscreened by urban light. I thought, if we live on spaceship earth, let’s build a few space canoes. And, if we could see this where we lived, if everyone in the world could see the night sky, there would be no question of directing our energies to going there.

A third lesson is that if humans did vanish magically, the world would abide. It would continue getting warmer for a while, but probably sooner than we think it would start healing itself and cooling off. I find that last reassuring.

I also find the photographs very aesthetically appealing. The oily darkness of the cities, the only color coming from the sky itself. The detail in both sky and cityscape. I could become entranced by these photos, look at them for hours.

Cohen’s photographs show us what we’re missing with light pollution. They provide another way of breaking down the city/nature lie. They show us another connection to the universe.


Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
Skunk Cabbage (Lyshichiton americanus)
Let’s start off with one of my favorites, skunk cabbage. It’s called that because of how it smells, but I’ve never noticed a bad smell to it. It smells skunky to attract its pollinators, flies and beetles. I like that it shoots and blooms so early, and that its leaves are so large. This is the same plant as the one I photographed last week. This plant is in a very accessible location, so I should be able to photograph it weekly.

We also saw plenty of new skunk cabbage shoots throughout the park, so my fears of it being too easily disturbed are partially calmed.

Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
A different plant than I photographed last week, but you can sill see the bud developing.

Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
New this week, red flowering currant. Another early bloomer, very popular among hummingbirds and early-waking bumblebees.

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
Salmonberry (rubus spectabilis)
This is by far the dominant native shrub, very common, holding back (if not fighting off) the blackberry. You don’t have to worry about bushwhacking through it, it’ll grow back.

Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens)
Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens)
There are groves of this shrub in the park. It can grow quite tall and solid.

Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
One of my all time favorite plants in the park. I like its delicacy, the leafing pattern, and the way it grows in nooks and crannies. It likes rotting wood, and grows in a number of the stumps. This particular example was planted in fall, 2011, and appears to have survived the August-September (2012) drought. In fact, this was the plant that boosted my spirits last summer when I got one of my periodic sads about the seeming invisibility of the restoration work in the face of the task left to be done.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

“Phenology” is the study of annual events in nature, such as plants budding or birds nesting. It also makes for a great excuse to walk through North Beach Park once a week or so. I’m not getting there as often these days, since my studies about how to restore the park are taking me away from the actual restoration, paradoxical as that might seem.

Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)

I did see some skunk cabbage. I remember in previous years there would be areas positively lush with it. I think it’s a very easily disturbed plant, though, and it seems to disappear from areas where we’ve done any work. It grow in places too wet to work in until after it’s died back, but that still seems to be enough of a disturbance. It’s one of my favorite plants, and seeing it in North Beach Park and finding out about it is one of the things that drew me to the park.

Pacific Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes)
Pacific Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes)

There was also Pacific Waterleaf coming up all over the place. Pacific Waterleaf grows from early spring until July or August and then dies back. While it’s around, it can form a very dense carpet. And when it blooms, it can hum with busy bees. This plant, too, appears to be disturbed by restoration work. It grows among ivy, and once it dies back the ivy gets to keep going. Pulling up the ivy and mulching can really cut back on the waterleaf return.

But it wasn’t all mixed news.

Nootka Rose (Rosa nootkensis)
Nootka Rose (Rosa nootkensis)

This Nootka rose was planted in March 2012, which is late in the planting season. Despite the long, cool spring, the plants we put in that late didn’t have much time to establish their roots before the long drought of August-September hit. But this plant seems to have survived, and is putting out buds nicely. Nootka rose was brought into the park by restoration.

Indian Plum or Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)
Indian Plum or Osoberry (Oemlaria cerasiformis)

This Osoberry looks in good shape, too. This is another very early plant, that blooms before almost anything else.

I didn’t do as good a job of recording what was planted where in 2012 as I might have. So one of my goals for 2013 is to better document the planting season (October — January).

In the meantime, there are plenty of invasives to remove.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest [With CD (Audio)]
Photography by Amy Gulick
Illustrations by Ray Troll
Braided River, 2010

The Pacific Northwest temperate rain forest extended from Mendocino County up to Anchorage, Alaska. It was larger than all the other temperate rain forests combined. You don’t think of Scotland, northern Japan, Chile, or Norway as having rain forests, but they all once did.

The southeast Alaska Panhandle, the northern coast of British Columbia, and all the archipelagos off their shores, are the largest surviving intact temperate rain forests in the world. This book deals with the Tongass rain forest in Alaska.

Even when being set aside as a national forest, the trees were made available to logging companies at dirt-sale prices; one article says a tree would be sold as raw lumber for the cost of a cheeseburger. Economics have weakened the pulp industry, and, in the way of extractive industries, the companies have fired the workers, closed the mills, and moved on.

What is left though is still intact enough to survive and is the largest national parks and national forests in the country.

This book shows us what remains in essays and photographs that made me want to go there. The Tongass rain forest is one of the wildest places on Earth. The essays range from rapturous homilies to the beauty of the landscape, to reports on research being conducted in conservation and ecology.

All in all, it sounds like a magical place. Burgeoning with life, all connected and living together. The essays show in great detail, with many different starting points, why this area is worth preserving. And not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because sustainable practices of fishing and forestry will provide longer-term employment than clear-cutting. Douglas Chadwick points out that a giant spruce, sold as raw lumber for the price of a cheeseburger, is worth tens of thousands of dollars when milled carefully to produce sounding boards for music instruments.

There are sidebar interviews with people who make their living in the Tongass — giving flying and boating tours, fishing tours and hikes, doing research. The photos are beautiful, adding to the information in the essays. I think the illustrations could have been reproduced a little larger — they look like “design elements” rather than an integrated part of the whole.

Salmon in the Trees was produced by the Mountaineers to bring knowledge and appreciation of the Tongass to people who might not have heard of it otherwise. I think it succeeds.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

If you wonder what I mean when I say “we put a survival ring around a tree,” this might help explain the process.

First you need a tree with ivy on it. And here it is!

The "before" picture
Tad and Chris stand in front of the tree we’re about to work on.

Before we pull the ivy off the tree, we build a platform to dry out the ivy and let it rot in place. In a few years, it becomes humus.

Preparing the ground
Here’s a blurry an action shot of Morry clearing the ground. It’s frequently the case that you have to pull up ivy to clear the spot for the platform.

First we put down a layer of burlap, to prevent shoots reaching up into the platform. Then long, thick logs (in this case, more than six feet long, and a couple inches in diameter) to form a square. More thick logs are laid out between the square, then a grid is formed by placing thinner logs across the bottom layer. The more separation between ground and platform the better. Then you can put the ivy on the platform.

Putting ivy on the platform
Morrie and Ellie put ivy on the platform. You can see some burlap just above the date stamp, and a framing log towards the middle foreground.

The ivy is cut at shoulder height. The ivy above the cut is left in place to die, and the ivy below the cut is pulled away from the tree. This sometimes takes a great deal of effort. Ivy roots can reach several inches in diameter, and roots growing close together will fuse into a solid mat. A crowbar is one of the most useful tools for this kind of work.

About two thirds done
Tad is holding a root that’s about 2″ in diameter. Also, you can see that we’re working on a slope with this tree.

Here’s the final ivy pile, with Tad standing behind it to give a sense of scale. He’s about 5’6″ tall.
The ivy pile

Here’s the “after” picture.
The "after" picture

It was taken from pretty much the same position as the “before” picture. The ivy above the cut will die, but it might take awhile. Even so, it will stop growing up the tree.

This tree was more than 35″ in diameter, and was about 100′ tall. The complete circumference was covered by ivy to about 70′.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

Ivy rings

Sep. 8th, 2012 09:00 am
holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Ivy infested tree.

The ivy in this tree had almost reached the crown, but not quite. Two other volunteers put an ivy ring around it Sunday, Sept. 2nd. In a month or so, we hope it looks like this:

Successful ivy ring.

This tree had a survival ring put around it in April 2011.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Watering cans

The best time to plant native plants in a park (where they won’t get much maintenance) is mid fall, so the roots have plenty of time to establish themselves during the winter rains. However, the best time to distribute thousands of plants to eager forest stewards is mid winter, when the plants are nice and dormant. For larger parks, with nurseries, this is no problem. For North Beach Park, that meant we put the plants in very late in the planting season (late March). I used to say I was the only person in Seattle who was enjoying the cool, wet spring.

We’re finally having a stretch of dry days — in fact, we’re approaching the record for days in a row without measurable precipitation, and just finished the driest August since weather records were kept. That means the watering cans will be accompanying me to North Beach Park a few more times.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Presenting LOG

“Log” is what my wife and I call the above ivy root (it’s a Ren & Stimpy reference). This is what those little sprigs of ivy turn into when they’re allowed to spend years attached to a tree. Log is about four feet long.

Log gets two reactions from people: aghast horror from people who have never seen an ivy root before, and “meh, I’ve seen worse” from people who have.

Anyway, this is what we’re working to remove from our parks.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

What first attracted me to North Beach Park was the trash in amongst the weeds. This bucket was uncovered during the June work party. That’s an ivy root rising out of the bucket.

The tree the ivy rose towards was so covered in ivy the little area looked like a jungle. Now it’s much more open and pretty.

Nature Intrudes

This picture encapsulates the idea of “Nature Intrudes.” Nature will break through, not always in ways that humans like or judge as pretty. But it will break through.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

I went for a walk in North Beach Park last Sunday. The park looked like a mess, there have been alder trees falling down, bindweed coming up in places it hasn’t before, knotweed and some other things coming back after supposed eradication. Volunteers can’t work on the slopes (except for survival rings) or in the stream, so we’re kind of hemmed in. I felt pretty discouraged until I saw this.

Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) berries
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) berries

This was planted last fall. Seeing the berries on the new planting made me feel a little better. So did this.

Successful ivy ring
Successful ivy ring

Look at how bushy that is! That means the ivy was getting enough sunlight to probably sets fruit every season. This survival ring will have several benefits: Cut down on the Ivy seed rain, if infinitesimally so. The snag, now clear of ivy, will provide habitat and food for woodpeckers; when they move on, smaller birds will take over. Without the ivy, the snag will stand longer, and when it falls, it will be a nurse log.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

And now some of the tidepool life we saw at Salt Creek this year.

We (my wife and I) like tidepools because they’re so full of tiny creatures. Every square inch might be taken up with something: anemones, sponges, corals, seaweeds and grasses, sculpins, mussels, bivalves, crabs, shrimp, limpets, and on and on. The tidepools at Salt Creek, being on a very rocky shore, are fun to explore on their own. There are dozens and dozens of little enclaves of life, in many different nooks and crannies, some being washed by the waves no matter how low the tide, some covered in only the highest tides.

Tidepools make me think how profligate life is, how every nook and cranny will be filled with something, and how nothing is wasted. It’s also very colorful: either the exuberant coloration of a poisonous or unpalatable life form, or the dramatic mottling of something trying to camouflage itself against a chaotic background.

Goose neck barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus)
Goose neck barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus)
I remember thinking “sometimes, all you want is a straightforward, simple picture of goose-neck barnacles.” I should take this approach more often, as I want my photography to be more documentary or objective.

But sometimes it’s hard to avoid the artistic.

Purple Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus nudus)
Purple shore crab (Hemigrapsus nudus
We watched this little guy eat for a while. It would reach into the mussel shell, struggle for a second or two, and then pull out a tiny little chunk of the mussel meat. A barely visible (to me) portion at any one time, but the crab didn’t have to go anywhere and the mussel certainly wasn’t going to run away. On the other side of the mussel (not photographable due to sun glare) was a much smaller shore crab, like a child or younger sibling.

This is a good example of the density of life in a tide pool, the area you’re looking at is only a couple square inches.

Pink-tipped Green Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)
Pink-tipped Green Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)
Even though the pink-tipped anemone is the subject of this photo, there are hermit crabs, limpets, algae, encrusting corals or sponges, and other life forms in the field of view, if not necessarily visible in the photo.

Also, I like the word “elegantissima.” The “ti” should be heavily accented, and the “ss” very sibilant. Ell – ehh – gan – TIss – ih – mah.

Here is the complete set of photos from Salt Creek this year. Here is a collection of tidepool and tideland photographs from other trips.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Here are some photos of plant life from Salt Creek, in Clallam County, WA.

Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) flowers
I think oceanspray would make a nice landscaping bush. I love its flowers, and the density of them on a bush. I also like the seeds they form, and how the seeds remain on the bush for so long. Last year’s seeds still hung on this bush. I see it all over in Clallam County, not so much in Seattle.

The wood is very strong, and was used to make harpoons, digging sticks, bows, arrow shafts, and even (lately) knitting needles by nearly all Coastal Salish people. Oceanspray pegs were used in construction before nails.

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
I fell in love with this fern as soon as I saw it on the Striped Peak trail. Unfortunately, the trail was narrow, so I couldn’t get back far enough to get a picture of the whole plant or group of plants. It was used in basketweaving by some Washington groups, the shiny, dark stems being used to good effect.

According to Pojar, maidenhair fern is also known as A. aleuticum. So much for scientific names being unambiguous (they’re less ambiguous, but they still change, especially as DNA analysis is used to determine speciation.)

I haven’t seen this in any Seattle park, but I’m sure it’s around. There are numerous places it would work in North Beach or Carkeek Parks.

Here is the complete set of photos from Salt Creek this year. Here is a set of photos of Native Plants of Washington.

Note: This post uses information from Wild Plants of Greater Seattle by Arthur Lee Jacobson, and Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast (revised) by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.


holyoutlaw: (Default)

June 2017

4 5678910


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags