What you don’t see in this photo along the east edge of the city-owned Myers Way Parcels in southeast West Seattle is part of what this story’s about. It’s a restored wetland area, tens of thousands of square feet previously choked by blackberries and other weeds, in the watershed of salmon-bearing Hamm Creek.
Those piles are just part of what was removed in a yearlong project led by the nature-steward organization Weed Warriors, including help from residents of Camp Second Chance, which is also on the Myers Way Parcels, where more than 50 tiny houses shelter people experiencing homelessness. On Saturday, several of the camp residents who participated in the restoration project joined Weed Warriors leader Grace Stiller in a celebration at the site, just outside the encampment’s north fence.
Stiller marshaled assistance from organizations including the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, National Wildlife Federation, and Puget SoundKeeper to underwrite the restoration project, which also included instruction for the participants. Along with working on the land, they took online classes on topics including plant identification. Saturday’s celebration was a “graduation” too – with certificates, and a chance to sign a new plaque marking the restored area, where project participants planted 175 new trees along with native shrubs.
Weed Warriors teaches a “Code of Environmental Chivalry,” and during Saturday’s event, Stiller ceremonially pronounced program participants to be “Knights of the Living Forest.”
Attendees read aloud from the code – one tenet is “Show courtesy and consideration for the native habitat and wildlife that surrounds us.” Along with certificates and cake, the Saturday celebration also included the presentation of stipend checks – the grants covered $15/hour for work on the site. Stiller hopes to launch the next phase of restoration in the fall, provided the permit process with the city goes as planned. (She also is a member of the Camp Second Chance Community Advisory Committee; we cover its monthly meetings, and that’s where we heard about this.)