Thursday, October 13, 2016

winter 2016

 The summer has ended and we have a new group coming to help clearing the site for fall planting.  Thanks Fred Hutchenson immunology for taking a friday with us.

 The hill side that was cleared this spring needed a little weeding. We have had persistent problems with Morning Glory and Canadian thistle colonizing sites we have cleared of blackberry and hawthorn. The only control seems to be frequent weeding during the summer to prevent seed forming.

Contractors hired by GSP treated holly, privit and hawthorn with herbicide (some for the second time) to reduce the "seed rain" that these plants produce in the form of nuts, berries and seeds that are spread by the foraging birds and squirrels.  It's estimated that the volume of Holly doubles every 6 years from this growth activity in the Puget Sound trough.
This hill is steep, water rolls right off it, that's why we have to mulch it periodically, and attempted to make a swale from the debris piles that were left from the last blackberry and clematis removal.  Here you can see our unrelenting rose bush removal team going for round three in their attempt to control a particularly viscous specimen that has escaped somebody's garden and hybridized itself  to the site.

                                                                                       Whatever happens, we take a break at noon to recharge and finish strong, more photos to come of the plant's when they arrive.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 24th 2016

some new additions
After receiving over 40" of rain this planting season, we have had a wet time installing the new plants this winter. Anticipating another series of heat events like we experienced last summer, we ordered 40 yards of arbor chips to retain moisture and protect the new plants. The result? Mushrooms!

new planting area
clearing the last section of the 'community view clearing' we planted it out, logging about 300 volunteer hours, put in over 200 various trees, shrubs and ground cover.
loading mulch
several groups came through, we had a good turnout from United Way day of service volunteers, several follow up events culminating with a Martin Luther King day final effort.

 moving chips by hand up the slope

The slopes were a bit too steep to push a wheelbarrow, so a bucket brigade was created to bring up the essential element of  woodchips, and coarse woody debris.
High Bush Cranberry
Several species have begun to push through without any planting as we have pulled back the ivy and blackberry from this site: fringe cup, thimbleberry, trillium, even a few tiny conifer seedlings. The above Vibrunum Adule has been growing on the slope, we have successfully live staked a few more of them along the ridge.

Steep slopes present a special challenge to foresters as they are difficult to work on, new plantings require more care as water will run away from where it's needed, mulch will slide off, erosion is constantly a problem.

To that end we have had the help from Earthcorps, a private contractor hired by the Green Seattle Partnership and the South 34th Ave Homeowners Association. A crew of Americorp volunteers lead by seasoned forest professionals cleared much of the area beside the Dose Walkway, treated invasive shrubs in the bluff areas along the upper border of the Historic Community View Clearing.

To accommodate the concern over view obstruction in the upper area, we have planted Malus Fusca, a native crabapple, and Cascara trees to provide a tree canopy that will shade out the invasive plants that have recolonized the areas we have cleared.  We hope to have more serviceberry trees available next fall to fill in the areas where hawthorn and Laurel have been killed. We have also planted Coltsfoot, a medicinal herb, as a ground cover in the many 'seeps', places where surface water has emerged between strata of earth forming a seasonal wetland environment.

It must be acknowledged there are other issues to urban forestry besides good ecology, and native plant conservation. These include surface water and view management. The name of this parcel of land is called the 'community view clearing' because it has been traditionally managed by the adjacent homeowners to see the lake, mountains and environs surrounding this place. To that end several 'agreements' have been made with Parks and Recreation to manage vegetation, evidence of those efforts have been noted by volunteer stewards as the heavy growth of Beaked Hazelnut, Indian Plum, Vine Maple substory undergrowth and the cutting of mature Broadleaf Maple and Oregon Ash.

When this site was placed under active stewardship in 2013 a target forest of Hemlock\Cedar was designated by GSP ecologists, changing the priorities away from view management to current understanding of a healthy urban forest as defined by SMC 18.30 resolution 29475.

  Cass Turnbull   founder of Plant Amnesty, has a few things to say about this subject;

"Trees and Views-- one of my specialties. Every tree on a hillside is in the way of somebody's water view and most likely more than one person's. So where and when do you stop accommodating folks? Removing trees  devalues public property to increase the value of private property. It's a kind of gold fever that possesses people  and it is often accompanied by a sense of entitlement. 
           That's because there is a flaw in the language itself. People say 'my view'. But they do not own 'their' views or potential views. They own 'their' windows which may or may not have a view of water. What they see from their windows is reflected in the value of 'their' property. But that does not mean it belongs to them. Whether or not your neighborhood has a good school district or a low crime rate is reflected in the value of your house and you have no control over that. So the term 'my view'  implies ownership and moral rights they do not possess . Maybe if they paid their neighbor for rights to the air above them they could call it 'their view'.
      When the neighbor has a garage that is located between your window and Mount Rainier,  you don't expect him to take it down.  People dont regard trees as having value and being deserving of respect. Why? They are too common and they are free, you know like air and water. Trees mostly just happen  in the Pacific Northwest  and they grow for free .       The benefits of trees are ongoing, cumulative and they accrue to the public-- like sequestering carbon  making oxygen, cooling the hot City,  breaking heavy rainfall which causes our waterways to become polluted, cleaning the air,  preventing mudslides and providing habitat.  But  removing a tree or trees benefits an individual by giving them a nice view and raising their property value. A view does not benefit the public, a tree benefits everybody.
     Views change. A tree may grow up and become the view, where once there was a view of water. Or a tree may die or be cut down by a neighbor who owns it or a storm. Then you have a new view which you may like better, or in many other cases, worse.  In any case looking at a tree is not the hardship that looking directly into a neighbor's window is. Last I heard there was a right to privacy, not a right to a view.
   The govt folks get endless calls and complaints about trees growing up and blocking views. But those bureaucrats never have to deal with upset people who demand to know where the trees they want to see are gone. 

I just read some legal wording from the National Environmental Policy Act. NEPA.. "individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time..."40CIR 1508.7.
That's what the removal of trees is.
     For literally decades people have been trying to get Seattle to adopt a meaningful tree ordinance managing trees on private property. You could do me a favor email the council and the mare suggesting it's time for a real Tree Preservation Ordinance. Of course it may have been one of them who said ok to the trees being cut down. My deepest sympathy."

As you can see, there are two sides to this story, This Blog being one, the Homeowners Association have their own, with historical precedent and real property values on the line. This issue is being discussed by Park and Rec staff to manage expectations of current stakeholders of this site. We will update as events unfold. Comment is encouraged.