Student Capstone Experience in Habitat Restoration at Union Bay Natural Area

February 17th, 2012 by Caitlin Guthrie
Yesler Swamp Student Restoration Team

Yesler Swamp student restoration team at a habitat restoration work party. Photo by Lewis E. Johnson.

One of the many engaging courses offered to the undergraduate and graduate students at the Center for Urban Horticulture is the Restoration Capstone Sequence. In this course, students of different academic backgrounds work together to complete a local ecological restoration project. Students plan, design, install, and monitor a restoration project while working in teams over the course of eight months, beginning in fall of each year.

Clients in the community, including local governments, utilities, non-profits and private firms, submit RFP’s (requests for proposals) to the UW Restoration Ecology Network concerning restoration opportunities. This year, students are working on projects at Pierce College Lakewood Campus, Cotton Hill Park, North Creek Forest, Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, Ravenna Park, Yesler Creek (near Burke Gilman Trail) and Union Bay Natural Area.

Yesler Swamp Map

Map of the restoration site from students’ Work Plan. Pie charts show the initial relative cover of invasive plant species. The upper left hand portion of the map is the SE corner of the Center for Urban Horticulture’s parking lot.

A seven-student, multidisciplinary team is partnering with Friends of Yesler Swamp to restore a portion of the Union Bay Natural Area to native Puget Sound forest. The site was highly disturbed and much of it was dominated by invasive plant species, specifically Himalayan blackberry.

For the past few weekends, the team has been hard at work, coordinating and executing habitat restoration volunteer events to remove the invasive plants. Many of their volunteers to date have been undergraduate students with little to no previous exposure to natural systems and the field of restoration ecology.

After completing site preparation, the student team will cover much of the site with organic wood chip mulch and plant a structurally and biologically diverse suite of native forested wetland and upland plant species.

To keep up to date on the Yesler Swamp student restoration project and to join in future volunteer habitat restoration events, check out the Restore Yesler Swamp Facebook page.

For more information on the innovative and award-winning UW Restoration Ecology Network:

UW Restoration Ecology Network Website

Article in Science Magazine on the Restoration Ecology Network capstone program

Share