(Wednesday photo by Dylan Grace-Wells: EarthCorps crewmember beginning to blaze a path through intensive wild clematis and ivy)
Southwest of the historic Fauntleroy Schoolhouse, a green but threatened treasure is finally getting long-planned TLC – not just a round of weekend work parties, but instead, the toughest restoration project in the Fauntleroy Creek Watershed: Work has begun in the Kilbourne Ravine, announces Fauntleroy Creek watershed steward Judy Pickens, the project coordinator. After the final permit was procured, EarthCorps crew members were booked to get going with the project during two work days this past week.
The work along the middle reach of Fauntleroy Creek, between California SW and 45th SW, will focus on getting rid of invasive vegetation – aka weeds – and restoring appropriate vegetation. This in turn will accomplish goals including controlling erosion, filtering runoff, and reclaiming the ravine as wildlife habitat.
It’s a 2 1/2-acre site that is a mix of private- and city-owned property, classified overall as an “environmentally critical area.” But it’s infested, as are many of our greenspaces, with invaders including Himalayan blackberry and English ivy, as well as wild clematis and other invasive shrubs/trees. Judy reports that the work plan for the first week included:
*Cutting all clematis, especially where growing up trees, to prevent flowering and seeding this season
*Cutting blackberry (where growing in larger patches without native plants) in preparation for future spray treatment
*Pulling clematis away from native plants in preparation for future spray treatment
*If time allows, begin cutting ivy off native trees (survival rings)
*If time allows, begin treating invasive trees (holly, cherry laurel) using injection lance
*Hauling out garbage and debris as needed.
Fighting the invasives benefits more than the ravine itself – it also reduces their spread to nearby property. According to the project FAQ, this is the start of six years of work. But that will honor a legacy that is many decades old; according to Seattle Parks, its part of the ravine was donated by Dr. Edward C. Kilbourne, who established the Washington Dental Association. (Perhaps, then, it is fitting that some of the extensive work just to get to the point where restoration work can begin, sounds to have been a bit like pulling teeth.)
But Pickens and other intrepid volunteers/advocates have been at it a long time, with achievements including the restoration of Fauntleroy Creek itself as a salmon creek, so they’ve been taking it milestone by milestone, including two years of fundraising work which has yielded $55,000+ so far. Pickens notes support from “the Puget Sound Stewardship and Mitigation Fund, a grant-making fund created by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and administered by the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment.”
P.S. If you pass the ravine and notice rappellers – that’s what it’ll take for some of the work, given the steepness of the slopes!