Volunteers work to restore Snoqualmie Pass habitat

Volunteers work to restore Snoqualmie Pass habitat

Conservation Northwest / Oct 13, 2015 / Connecting Habitat, I-90 Wildlife

Volunteers begin the trek to the restoration site. Photo: Alaina Kowitz
By Alaina Kowitz, Communications and Outreach Associate

Conservation Northwest volunteers and staff met up with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and U.S. Forest Service staff to lend a few hands in a restoration project on Snoqualmie Pass this past Friday.

The project, implemented by WSDOT, involved planting over 600 willows and 2,000 sedge plants on a mitigation site sandwiched between the Keechelus Lake reservoir and I-90. 

Learn more about our I-90 Wildlife Corridor Campaign

According to WSDOT’s Mark Norman, “This site is here because in order to build the highway we had to expand into the reservoir and displaced some of the water. To compensate for impacted wetlands, we have to restore those areas that we affected.”

Conservation Northwest’s volunteers were smiling and enthusiastic employees of Experience Momentum, a physical therapy clinic in Lynnwood, who not only helped transport all of the willow and sedge starts from the drop-off point to the site (about a half-mile trek one way), but also swung pickaxes to dig planting holes in the rocky ground.

Not even rain could deter these able-bodied folks, and we feel fortunate to have had them for our volunteers!

Forest Service botanist Helen Lau debriefs the volunteers with I-90 in the background. Photo: Alaina Kowitz

Helen Lau, a botanist for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest who was present for the planting party, said the plant starts are native to the area and will thrive in the riparian areas that will become inundated with water during winter months and drain out in the spring and summer.

“We have highway infrastructure, but we also partner with people like Conservation Northwest to create restoration places around highways,” she said.

Volunteer Amy Maddox shows off her brute strength. Photo: Alaina Kowitz

And our Experience Momentum volunteers seemed eager for more opportunities to get outside and help out with these important restoration projects. “We’ll be back,” volunteer Erin Gettman said. “I feel like a kid out here digging and getting dirty!”

Fellow volunteer Shanon Tyland agreed, and added, “We drive over I-90 a lot. It’s going to be cool to see the changes in this area over time.”

For more photos of the planting party, see Experience Momentum’s Facebook album and our Flickr page.

This work is complemented by our ongoing efforts at Gold Creek valley on the other side of I-90, where this fall we’ll be planting an additional 500 native plants and distributing over 50 lbs of native seed.  This work is supported by the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition, National Forest Foundation, and the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest’s Resource Advisory Committee.

Volunteer with us!