Labor of love: Who’s digging in at those “work parties”

April 4, 2009 11:56 pm
|    Comments Off on Labor of love: Who’s digging in at those “work parties”
 |   Environment | West Seattle news | West Seattle parks

Every Friday in the West Seattle Weekend Lineup, we include listings for Saturday morning work parties at West Seattle’s greenbelt treasures, from well-used parks to tangled greenbelts. So who are the intrepid volunteers who show up to help tend what so many of us take for granted? We sent a new WSB contributing reporter out this morning to meet one group and find out how much progress they’re making.

By Jonathan Stumpf
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The first Saturday of every month is like most at Lincoln Park: Dog-walking, jogging and baseball make up the bulk of activities in this 135-acre urban forest. But among the shrubbery and trees, a group of individuals — the Friends of Lincoln Park — are performing an activity that is vital to the park’s future: the removal of invasive plant species.

The Friends of Lincoln Park is a volunteer group led by West Seattle resident and trained forest steward Sharon Baker. For three years she has been leading individuals into Lincoln Park to help with the removal of invasive plants like English holly and ivy, Himalayan blackberry, Stinky Bob, nipple-wort and clematis, with hopes of reclaiming the forest for the native plants.

Today, nine volunteers are on hand for this work party to help with removal of Stinky Bob and blackberry in the north end of the park. While Baker is not a botanist by trade, she did take an intensive course on plant identification through the Native Plant Society. “I know enough to be dangerous in the park,” Baker says. This knowledge is passed along to her group of dedicated volunteers—this is the first event for only one volunteer—and they begin ripping the blackberry and Stinky Bob from the undergrowth.

Volunteer Grant Nelson has lived in West Seattle for 23 years and is a frequent park user. “I didn’t realize how bad it was,” Nelson says, referring to the invasive species, as he drops a pile of blackberry on the sidewalk. Retired, he enjoys contributing his time to the park’s health. “I can see the progress and I really appreciate it,” Nelson says.

Kathy Davis (shown above with Sharon), another volunteer, moved to West Seattle from California a year ago to be closer to her family and says that since she doesn’t have a garden anymore, she is glad to have this outlet. Plus, she adds “You can walk away and you don’t have to worry about it.”

Aside from helping to restore healthy forests, Baker says this work helps to keep her balance. “Being in the woods is how I keep my sanity.” In addition to helping with the forest restoration, Baker says that work parties are a great way to burn calories. She says three hours of forest work burns roughly 1,000 calories.

Last year with the efforts from the Friends of Lincoln Park and another hired crew, they helped to successfully remove invasive plants in eight acres of the park – roughly six percent of its acreaage. It’s an overwhelming task, Baker says, adding that 80 acres of the park are forested. But she says they just prioritize strategically and environmentally, sometimes getting help from local schools and more recently, the parks department. A new Native Plant Policy is presently being proposed with the goal of making the vegetation in natural park areas of Seattle 80 percent native.

The Friends of Lincoln Park is just one of many groups throughout Seattle that do park restoration. The overall goal was created by the Green Seattle Partnership — a collaboration of the city of Seattle and Cascade Land Conservancy — and has 50 active restoration sites throughout Seattle, with 13 of them in West Seattle.

This 20-year plan is made successful by the volunteer efforts of groups like Friends of Lincoln Park. Last year, volunteers contributed over 70,000 hours, with several hundred being fulfilled in Lincoln Park. However, Baker adds they can always use more volunteers and presently they are looking to train another individual to become a forest steward to help lead another crew into the park.

Friends of Lincoln Park volunteers are usually out in the park the first Saturday of each month; you can check work-party schedules for parks and greenbelts all over the area, in advance, at

No Replies to "Labor of love: Who's digging in at those "work parties""

    Sorry, comment time is over.