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

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What does the Arboretum sound like?

December 22nd, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Abby Aresty photoSeattle-based composer,  sound artist and UW doctoral student in music Abby Aresty has designed an amazing sound installation for the Washington Park Arboretum planned for autumn 2012. But she needs to raise more money for equipment to build the installation. Abby describes the public art project on the fund raising site KickStarter where backers can donate cash in any amount. But there’s a catch. Abby must raise the $8,000 she needs by February 14th. Funding through KickStarter is all or nothing. If the full amount is not raised by the deadline then the artist receives nothing and the donors are not charged.

Please help Abby realize her vision, become a backer today!

Follow Abby’s progress in her Blog

Hear Abby explain her vision for Path II: The Music of Trees

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UW Student Completes Draft for Campus Sustainability Fund Proposal

September 15th, 2011 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

UW undergraduate Jeanine Carlson developed a draft proposal for the Campus Sustainability Fund as her Capstone project. The proposal imagines a cafe and permaculture demonstration garden at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Jeanine shares her vision for the proposal:

The Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden is a display and study of permaculture perennial plant guilds in an event hosting site. It provides visual demonstration, experiential learning, and a place for community to gather in sharing, learning and celebration. With the addition of the Greenhouse Café the site will provide a social hub for students, visitors, University of Washington Botanic Garden (UWBG) patrons and parents of children in educational programs.

Read the rest of the Executive Summary.

Permaculture Perennial Guild Garden Plan Sketch


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UW Student Reports on Stormwater Planting at CUH

September 14th, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Communications Specialist
Rain garden at CUH

Proud students admiring their hard work planting up the rain garden.

The Arboretum has its bog garden. The Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) has its rain garden. A new rain garden is part of a larger project designed by Berger Partnership to direct rainwater from the roofs of Merrill and Isaacson Halls to the existing roof garden, an as-yet undeveloped hillside garden, and collection bins (rain gardens). When funding is found to complete the project, the CUH will present a completely integrated water system which collects rain, delivers it to the gardens, and drains to Lake Washington.

Lisa Haglund, a recent graduate with a degree Community, Environment, and Planning  in the UW College of Built Environments, created the planting plan for the rain garden with guidance from the UW Botanic Gardens’ Dr. Kern Ewing, David Zuckerman and Barbara Selemon. In May, students from Maggie Rose’s Ingraham High School science classes prepared the site with Haglund and Patrick Mulligan, after Selemon arranged for Haglund to give a presentation on stormwater at their school. Ingraham currently has no available site for rain garden construction, so the Ingraham students’ trip to the CUH was funded through GROW, a program designed to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens.

Lisa describes her experience working with high school students:

From the first field trip to the last, I saw an awakening interest in plants, planting, maintenance techniques, and natural systems take root in many of these young people. Through experiential learning students gained knowledge of how plants and soils act to capture and filter out the contaminants in runoff, the value of freshwater and freshwater ecosystems, and how each of them can make a difference by implementing Low Impact Development  projects at their homes and schools.

Lisa’s complete LHaglund_Stormwater_GROWProgram with photos. Visit Lisa on LinkedIn.

 

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How does your garden grow?

August 29th, 2011 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

The following was submitted by Angela Williams, one of five UW student interns who worked with us this past spring through the Carlson Leadership Center. Angela and co. were tasked with transforming the long neglected “Back 40″ located between Plant Donations and the Greenhouse at the Arboretum into a vegetable garden…

“As a student majoring in public health nutrition, I’ve worked in many food-related service learning/volunteering positions in the past several years. My recent experience as “Greenhouse and Garden Caretaker” at the UW Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, however, was by far my favorite position ever. I so looked forward to my Friday shift each week; it was a welcome break from the classroom as I was outside working in the fresh air tending to the garden. I could hardly wait to get there each week to see how much the plants had grown. Seeds that I had put in the ground only weeks before had evolved into beautiful spinach, kale, pea, beet and tomato plants!
It really was a pleasure working with the staff; Patrick and Cari were so responsive and knowledgeable. They provided great leadership and support, yet also allowed me to work independently and use my own creativity; such as deciding what and where vegetables should be planted. They taught me a variety of organic gardening methods that I have already put to use in my own garden.
I find it especially rewarding to know that the garden I helped establish will be used as a learning garden for field trips and summer camps. It makes me happy to know the sustainable, organic produce grown in this garden will provide many years of delicious education for the thousands of children that visit.”
-Angela

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GROW participants visit CUH and the UW Farm

June 3rd, 2011 by Barbara Selemon

May Fieldtrips

Chickens made a big impression

The two days that GROW high school students visited CUH and
the UW Farm were full of sunshine. Students from Susan Barth’s horticulture class at Nova High School and students from Jessica Torvik’s horticulture/ecology classes were introduced to resources for their GROW projects through scheduled tours and activities. Maggie Roses’ science classes from Ingraham focused on working with Lisa
Haglund and Patrick Mulligan on the site prep and plant installation in the
newly restored storm water garden at CUH.

Lisa Haglund is an undergraduate in Community, Environment and Planning
and has taken on the redesign and installation of part of the storm water
garden at CUH.   For most students this was their first visit to the Center for Urban Horticulture.  A main function of the GROW program is to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens through the environmental education department at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Ingraham students work with UW students and staff at CUH

These field trips provided an opportunity to interact with faculty, students and staff and see how outdoor research is conducted and how undergraduates are engaged through projects and farm education at the university.  They also could take back new knowledge and ideas in constructing their school gardens.

CUH tours and activities

Tours led by Restoration Ecologist Dr. Kern Ewing and gardener, Annie Bilotta, introduced them to research and display of plants found at  CUH. Nathan Hale students toured UBNA for 1 1/2 hr., learning about native grasses versus introduced grasses, the benefit of shading to minimize invasive weed species, the survival of oaks post fire and where and how native prairie species thrive.  Annie introduced them to the variety of plants demonstrated in the rain, fragrance and Soest gardens.

Nathan Hale students get a lesson in UBNA

Nova students were introduced to Rare Care and the Miller Seed Vault by Wendy Gibble. After a mere few minutes in the vault, the students were eager to get back outside to a warmer environment. Miller Librarians Carrie Bowman and Tracy Mehlin gave overview tours of the library and a few students came away borrowing books from the loaner collection.

Interaction with UW undergraduates

While all students spent a small portion of the visit helping Lisa Haglund prep the site for the storm water garden, Ingraham students made this the focus of their trip to CUH.  Not having a site on their school grounds to implement their own rain garden, they were bussed to CUH for a day of helping Lisa and Patrick work on her senior project.

Ingraham students help remove sod from stormwater site

Using shovels and Hori Horis to remove sod, students assisted in the clearing of unwanted weeds and grass prior to the installation of selected native plant species to be planted in the deep depressions that collect storm water runoff.

UW students from Lily Nash's class serve up lessons to Nathan Hale students

UW Farm students led Nova and Nathan Hale students on tours and students from Lilly Nash’s class led interactive sessions on soil structure, permaculture, plant identification (treasure hunt) and chicken farming to Nathan Hale students.  There was high adventure when one chicken escaped being held by a Nova student and fled far beneath a spiny holly hedge. Luckily, the UW farm student was practiced in rounding up chickens and getting them safely back to their coop. More than anything else, the chickens impressed the students and I heard pleas for the teachers to allow chickens at their schools.

Nova students learn how to grab and move chickens

Benefits of Field Trips

Funding that was provided through the GROW program enabled Ingraham and Nathan Hale students to visit the university. A major obstacle in having high school students participate in environmental learning with the UW Botanic Gardens is transportation and time away from classes. The teachers were thankful to have their students learn outside of the classroom and their students got to view actual research sites, learn about seed saving techniques, interact with undergraduates at the UW (senior project, farm student lessons) and discover the Miller Library loan system.  For the UW Botanic Gardens, the reward may be the lure of future students interested in restoration, conservation, ecology and/or horticulture.

 

Nova students learn about soil structure

Students view the cobb oven used by UW farm students to make pizza


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Farm Groundbreaking -May 22, 2011

May 22nd, 2011 by UWBG Horticulturist

“It’s really happening!” shouted the small, yet ecstatic, gathering of Farm Partnership* members, as they watched the plow turn the first soil over in the Center for Urban Horticulture’s northwest field. Farm manager, Robert Servine, knows this is just the first step of many to come before the .75 acre farm will be in full production. It’s certainly a major tangible step after months of planning with UW Botanic Gardens and UW campus grounds management, as well as between the 2 Farm Partnership organizations, to get this exciting urban farm project launched.

Thanks to the generous donation of Full Circle Farms, groundbreaking was a one-person job accomplished via use of tractor, mower and a 4-blade moldboard plow. The conditions for turning earth today couldn’t have been better. After a cold, wet spring, last week’s warmer, sunnier days, dried the field out for accessibility w/ heavy equipment. The plan now is to wait a few weeks, let the weed seed that’s now at the surface germinate, then come in and disc the field. Also, because the field’s soil is depleted of most nutrients, it’s been estimated that 600 yards of compost will need to be incorporated to bring the fertility up to standards needed to grow healthy vegetables.

The farm will contribute to the bounty of our region’s food system by producing vegetables for sale on the University of Washington campus and at the University District Farmers’ Market.

  • The Farm is a partnership between Seattle Tilth’s Seattle Youth Garden Works program and the UW Student Farm.
  • Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW) empowers homeless and underserved youth through farm-based education and employment.
  • The UW Student Farm is a student organization committed to growing and learning about sustainable food systems.

For more info or to get involved, contact: Robert Servine, SYGW Farm Coordinator – robertservine@seattletilth.org or (206)633-0451 x102.

Michelle Venetucci Harvey, UW Student Farm – michelle@uwfarm.org

Plow used to turn soil

 

 

 

Attaching plow to tractor

 

 

 

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Past and Present: Continuing the Tradition of Restoration in UBNA

February 17th, 2011 by Jake Milofsky - UBNA RA

Earlier this season as we were getting ready for a new quarter of restoration work in the Union Bay Natural Area, a friend supplied me with her wonderful collection of photographs from the 2004 planting of UBNA’s “blue tube forest”.  It was a pleasure to be given a look back in time to the beginning of this project, as I have only been familiar with UBNA for a mere 2 years.  During the 2004 project, students planted over 1,000 bare root trees into what was then a grassy field, mulched these new seedlings, and protected them with blue plastic planting tubes.  Today, as anyone who strolls along Wahkiakum Lane well knows, that area is certainly not a grassy field any more!

In addition to the planting, students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring the bald eagles back to UBNA; an effort whose success our birding friends can attest to.

Let’s have a look back to 2004:

(All 2004 photos courtesy of Katie Murphy)

Looking east from within the planting area

Looking north from within the planting area. The three mature trees just off of Wahkiakum Lane still provide good reference points for this image

Students also participated in a Native American ceremony to bring bald eagles back to UBNA

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Walking through UBNA today, one notices many of these once tiny cherry, poplar, ash, willow, and alder seedlings have matured into healthy saplings, filling in the canopy of this new woodland.  In more recent years, the overall diversity has been increased with supplemental plantings of conifer species such as western red cedar and Douglas fir.

What a difference 7 years can make!

Unfortunately the woodland restoration plot has also been impacted by invasive Himalayan blackberry, which competes with the desired woodland species for important resources and threatens the overall health of this newly established ecosystem.  This invasion has been consistently managed over the years and will remain a perennial effort until the canopy is mature enough to cast shade over the blackberry plants, bringing them under a natural control.

Fortunately, UBNA has many friends in both the UW community and the general public who have given their time over the years to help nurture this newly established woodland, and 2011 has been no different!  During the winter quarter there have already been 3 volunteer work parties, with several more scheduled throughout the rest of the academic year.

UW students and members of the general public alike provide valuable volunteer support in the maintenance of UBNA's restoration sites.

If these efforts sound intriguing, you too can join the efforts to create healthy native ecosystems in the Union Bay Natural Area.  For info on upcoming volunteer work parties, have a look at the UWBG’s volunteer calendar and register for an upcoming event.  You’re guaranteed to leave feeling a sense of accomplishment, and you may even see a bald eagle!

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