Get Involved: Centennial Woods Restoration at Union Bay Natural Area

In 2007, the SEFS Alumni Group helped organize a volunteer event to plant a wooded area, now known as the Centennial Woods, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the College of Forest Resources. The chosen plot was a .67-acre site along the western edge of the Union Bay Natural Area at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Alumni volunteers originally planted 400 trees there, but without a long-term plan to maintain the site, only 40 survived. Also, some bare-root saplings had been planted in thick mulch rather than in the soil below; others were planted in less than ideal locations for the species, and they didn’t get watered after planting. These factors, coupled with the re-growth of Himalayan blackberry on the site, contributed to the very low survival rate.

View of the site in 2009, two years after it was initially planted.

View of the site in 2009, two years after it was initially planted.

During those first few years, future SEFS alumnus Jon Diemer (’14, MEH) and his wife Martha started spending varying amounts of time volunteering at the site, trying to save trees and keep the blackberry and other invasive species at bay, with bindweed and thistle among the most troublesome. Some of the other non-native grass species, as well, grow taller than six feet by late spring, blocking the sun from the young trees, and their roots often out-compete the trees’ roots. With only two people tackling these challenges, though, there was only so much they could do.

Then, in 2011 Diemer enrolled in the Master of Environmental Horticulture program at SEFS and chose creating a restoration and management plan for the Centennial Woods as his research project. With some more help from his wife, other students, and student work parties, he was able to plant most of the trees that are out there now (about 250). The native species planted, in order from greatest to least number, include: Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), shore pine (Pinus contorta ‘Contorta’), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), grand fir (Abies grandis), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) and vine maple (Acer circinatum). The non-natives from southern Oregon and California include incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

While the woods have been better maintained than in the past, Diemer says the project would be a lot easier to manage with more help. This past summer, for example, with extended drought and record-breaking heat, proved especially challenging. Diemer and his wife spent 12 weekends trying to haul enough water to save the most stressed trees, and they did succeed in rescuing a few. Yet they didn’t have the time or resources to help as many as they hoped, and about a third of the 250 trees didn’t make it—including three larger trees (about 15 feet tall) that had survived from the original 2007 planting.

The restoration has recently picked up momentum, though, and three work parties of ESRM 100 students have helped replace about 30 dead trees. Yet they still have about 70 more to plant this fall, so they’re hoping to recruit more volunteers to help with the planting, blackberry removal and subsequent maintenance.

If you’d like to get involved, either on a short- or long-term basis, please contact Jon at jon.diemer@gmail. He would welcome any assistance you’re able to offer, whether through donations of trees, time or labor—and so would the woods!

Photos © Jon Diemer.

View of the Centennial Woods site taken in 2013.

Photo of the site taken in 2013.

Alumni Spring Gathering: Sunday, April 27!

Coming up on Sunday, April 27, is the annual SEFS Alumni Spring Gathering! Organized by the SEFS Alumni Group, the spring celebration is a wonderful occasion to reconnect with old colleagues and friends, and to meet some of the current faculty, staff and students at the school (and all, of course, while having a great time!).

SEFS Spring GatheringThis year’s event will be a potluck-style barbecue at the NHS Hall at the UW Botanic Garden’s Center for Urban Horticulture from 4-7 p.m. In addition to other activities, we will have open house-style tours available so you can come see what’s happening at the Center for Urban Horticulture, and hear about current projects from staff and students. We’ll also be honoring the career of Jim Brown, class of ’62, for his decades of work in forestry. Come help us thank him for his lifelong dedication to the industry!

Last year’s gathering was a great success, from the incredible weather to the wine tasting to the 150 or so alumni, staff, students, faculty and friends who attended. So come out and join the celebration this year, and spread the word to other alumni and friends!

If you’re able to come, we hope you’ll bring a side dish or dessert to share for the potluck. We’ll provide provide beverages, grillables and salmon, and please sign up as soon as possible to help us prepare for the right number of people. Families and children are extremely welcome, and you can contact Cynthia Welte, one of the organizers, with any questions about the event, or if you’d like to get involved.

See you there!

Alumni Career Mentoring Event: April 16

Coming up on Wednesday, April l6, Xi Sigma Pi and the SEFS Alumni Group are co-hosting a career mentoring session for students to network with alumni working in the public and private sectors.

Xi Sigma PiThe event, to be held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Forest Club Room, will feature representatives from a number of industry employers—including Weyerhaeuser, King County, and the Stockholm Environmental Institute—as well as a mix of alumni at various career stages, and who earned undergrad and/or graduate degrees from SEFS.

Coffee and snacks will be provided, and at the end of the official session, students and alumni can head over to Big Time Brewing Company for some more casual networking!

You aren’t required to RSVP to attend, but if you’re able to sign up beforehand that will greatly help organizers anticipate numbers and better match students to alumni. If you have any questions about the event or wish to get involved, email Natalie Footen of Xi Sigma Pi. Otherwise, register now!

SEFS Alumni Group: Get Involved!

Coming up on Tuesday, February 25, the SEFS Alumni Group will be holding a meeting from noon to 1 p.m. in Anderson 22. The main topic of the meeting will be planning for the annual Spring Gathering on April 27, but other agenda items include leadership transitions, the revamped alumni newsletter, Roots (which will go out this Thursday), the Distinguished Alumni Seminar, student mentorship opportunities, and other ongoing projects. If you have updates you would like to share, or if you’d like to attend or call in from the field, email Alumni Group Chair Jessica Farmer!

Methow Valley

This past fall, Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley led an alumni hike in the Methow Valley–one of dozens of ways you can get involved with fellow alumni!

The invitation to participate goes well beyond this meeting, too. The most successful alumni group, says Farmer, will include representatives of many ages and interest areas, and they’re looking for new members to join in planning social events, developing mentoring opportunities, and providing feedback and support to the school.

Ideally, alumni group members must be willing to commit to the following requirements:

•         Attend the Annual Board meeting and two additional semi-annual meetings;
•         Attend the Annual Spring Gathering;
•         Invite 10-plus people to attend the Annual Spring Gathering, or serve on the planning committee or help underwrite the event ($200+);
•         Maintain your UW Alumni Association membership;
•         Make an annual contribution to SEFS (100% participation, no minimum);
•         Commit to a 2-year term;
•         Enhance the reputation of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the College of the Environment, and the University of Washington.

If you’d like to be an active member of the Alumni Group, please email us at, and we hope to connect with you soon!

Photo © SEFS.