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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January 2012 Plant Profile: Salix lasiandra

January 13th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s been a very mild winter season so far and and we’ve been blessed with several cool and clear days that bring out the best in the winter landscape. Working out in the Union Bay Natural Area, I was drawn by the picturesque views of the bay and looking out into the restoration sites, I also couldn’t help but notice the glowing stems of vibrant willows. Naturally occurring in consistently wet areas, UBNA just seems to glow and you can’t help but stop and admire them especially on a sunny day. UBNA is home to several species of willow, but the Pacific Willow stands out the most.

In the managed landscape, there are several species and cultivated varieties of Salix that are highly attractive. Salix alba, a European species, comes to mind along with the cultivars ‘Golden Curls’ and ‘Scarlet Curls’ derived as hybrids from S. matsudama ‘Tortuosa’, the famous “corkscrew willow”. These plants are fast growing and are often best coppiced in the winter or late springtime to get the slimmest stems with the most intense color the following year. This is achieved by taking down the shrub to about 6-10 inches tall and allowing new growth to develop from the base.

Common Name: Pacific Willow
Family: Salicaceae
Location: Union Bay Natural Area
Origin: Pacific Northwest Native
Height and spread: 20-30ft. high and 10-15ft. wide.
Bloom Time: Late winter

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Seasons of Life, a book of UBNA images

July 28th, 2011 by Kern Ewing

Marilyn Smith Layton has created a book of images called Seasons of Lifein the Union Bay Natural Area, and she is donating the profits from the sale of the book to projects in UBNA. The cost of the book is $60, and $20 of that will go to help the natural area.

You may purchase a copy in the Miller Library (cash or check only). If you would like to purchase by mail, please send a check (written out to Marilyn Smith Layton) to:

Marilyn Smith Layton
c/o UW Botanic Gardens
Box 354115
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Please include an additional $6 for postage and your mailing address. Books will be sent via USPS.

Seasons of Life has emerged from years of photographing the Union Bay Natural Area:  a sanctuary of renewal and inspiration within the UW Botanic Gardens.

A resident of the nearby neighborhood since 1968, Marilyn walks with camera in hand to capture the lives and light that are forever shifting. When her husband Richard Layton was recovering from a near fatal brain disease in the summer of 2009, they measured his progress by how much of the path he could cover. Slowly he came to walk its full circle again.

Both Marilyn and Richard Layton have close ties and loyalty to the University; Richard graduated in the fifth class of the UW Medical School (1954) and for many years directed a residency program in Family Medicine at Providence Hospital for the university, receiving the 2001 Alumni Service Award from the school. Marilyn completed her doctoral coursework in the UW English Department but a full-time teaching contract from North Seattle Community College prevented her from completing the degree, a choice she has not regretted.

For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member and presently vice-chair of its scholarship-granting Education Fund, and as the secretary of the Seattle Community Colleges Foundation. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at
conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and a few of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues launched her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband began to travel widely to wild places like the Antarctic and the Galapagos. Those travels have helped focus her love on what is so close to home: the Union Bay Natural Area.

Proceeds from this book will provide financial support for this well-loved place.

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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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A successful season of restoration in UBNA!

May 29th, 2011 by Jake Milofsky - UBNA RA

This spring quarter wrapped up a wonderful season of restoration events in the Union Bay Natural Area, with fantastic progress being made on several projects.  Tallying 177 individual visits in the spring quarter, students and community members collectively donated over 400 hours of their time to the restoration efforts being made in UBNA!

The northern end of Yesler Swamp saw a major improvement with the removal of a large monoculture of Himalayan blackberry.  UW students and the UWBG partnered with the Friends of Yesler Swamp to complete this work and install a suite of native plants including Indian plum, red-flowering currant, snowberry, Douglas hawthorne, ocean spray and live willow stakes.  Maintenance will continue in the coming months as volunteers return to weed this area and support the growth of these newly installed plants.

 

A community volunteer helps remove bindweed from live willow stakes in Yesler Swamp

A large amount of effort was put forth this season in the newly established woodland at the western end of Wahkiakum Lane as well.  What had seemed like an impenetrable sea of Himalayan blackberry during the winter quarter was tamed by the efforts of many students in UW’s Environmental Science course.  As they supplemented their course work with these service learning opportunities in ecological restoration, they also saw many native species appear from below the blackberry as they cut, pulled, and dug it out of the ground.

 

A big thanks goes out to everyone who participated in this year’s efforts!

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Buy a Beautiful Book and Support UBNA

May 18th, 2011 by Kern Ewing

Marilyn Smith Layton has created a book of images called Seasons of Life in the Union Bay Natural Area, and she is donating the profits from the sale of the book to projects in UBNA. The cost of the book is $60, and $20 of that will go to help the natural area.

You may purchase a copy in the Miller Library (cash or check only). If you would like to purchase by mail, please send a check (written out to Marilyn Smith Layton) to:

Marilyn Smith Layton
c/o UW Botanic Gardens
Box 354115
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Please include an additional $6 for postage and your mailing address. Books will be sent via USPS.

Seasons of Life has emerged from years of photographing the Union Bay Natural Area:  a sanctuary of renewal and inspiration within the UW Botanic Gardens.

A resident of the nearby neighborhood since 1968, Marilyn walks with camera in hand to capture the lives and light that are forever shifting. When her husband Richard Layton was recovering from a near fatal brain disease in the summer of 2009, they measured his progress by how much of the path he could cover. Slowly he came to walk its full circle again.

Both Marilyn and Richard Layton have close ties and loyalty to the University; Richard graduated in the fifth class of the UW Medical School (1954) and for many years directed a residency program in Family Medicine at Providence Hospital for the university, receiving the 2001 Alumni Service Award from the school. Marilyn completed her doctoral coursework in the UW English Department but a full-time teaching contract from North Seattle Community College prevented her from completing the degree, a choice she has not regretted.

For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member and presently vice-chair of its scholarship-granting Education Fund, and as the secretary of the Seattle Community Colleges Foundation. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at
conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and a few of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues launched her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband began to travel widely to wild places like the Antarctic and the Galapagos. Those travels have helped focus her love on what is so close to home: the Union Bay Natural Area.

Proceeds from this book will provide financial support for this well-loved place.

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PURPLE MARTIN CONDOS ARRIVE AT CUH

April 28th, 2011 by UWBG Horticulturist

Purple Martin Condos

Condos at CUH by Constance Sidles

 Yesterday the UW Botanic Gardens staff installed some new condominiums west of the greenhouses near the Center for Urban Horticulture. Oh, not for people, but for purple martins.Purple martins, you see, are our largest swallows, and they have been in decline for a long time. They nest in holes, and they like to live together in a colony. Natural habitat that suits them has vanished from our area, and for a while, so did the martins.

Then about ten years ago, one man — a water quality expert and biologist named Kevin Li — began to install houses for purple martins all over Puget Sound. He put up natural gourds for the birds among the pilings near Ray’s Café in Shilshole Bay, at Fort Lawton,  in Edmonds, and many other places. Birders began to see purple martins again in the skies over Seattle.

Before he died in a diving accident in 2006, Kevin tried twice to install gourds at UBNA. Both times, the gourds were stolen by vandals. After Kevin’s death, no one tried again. 

Until now. A couple months ago, Friends of Yesler Swamp  were brainstorming about how to improve bird habitat in the swamp (the easternmost section of UBNA). Kevin’s efforts were mentioned, and everyone immediately realized: Purple martins belong here.

Within days, the word went out to the birding community: We need money to buy purple martin gourds. Birders responded immediately, donating enough to buy eight state-of-the-art gourds. These gourds are specially designed for purple martins. They are molded from real gourds but made of UV-resistant white plastic to resist mold and reflect the hot sun, so baby birds can stay cool inside. The gourds have a little porch for the birds to perch on, and an entrance hole that is ridged so starlings and other pests cannot enter to take over the nest.

In the course of our brainstorming, David Zuckerman of UW Botanic Gardens remembered  seeing an unused cedar log at the Arboretum which could be repurposed to make a perfect stand to hold the gourds. Jerry Gettel of the Friends offered to assemble the gourds when they arrived from the manufacturer, and make a cedar arm for each one, with cordage to raise and lower the gourds so they can be cleaned when nesting season is over. 

Two weeks later, a small group of staffers gathered near the greenhouses to dig a post hole by hand. When it was deep enough, they hefted the 13-foot post with sheer muscle, and lowered it into the hole. Then they hung up the gourds carefully, one by one. We were all thrilled when the pole went up and the gourds started swinging in the breeze. Inside each gourd are clean cedar chips, waiting for a martin passerby to take note and move in. 

When (not if!!) the purple martins establish a colony at our site, we expect you will be able to see them all summer long, coursing over the waters of Yesler Cove in the heart of Yesler Swamp.  Martins love to hunt for insects over water,  and our site is perfect for them: far enough away from possible predators, close enough to a reliable food source, and within sight of comforting people (martins like us to be nearby). 

All together, our community has created a work of art that will, we hope, bring purple martins back to UBNA and Yesler Swamp. No one of us could have achieved this alone. Like everything else here in this special place, our project succeeded because we all helped, because we all respect nature, and most of all, because we try as best we can to balance the needs of people and wildlife.

As human beings, we each have within us the power to create much of our own environment, at least the cultural parts. What we choose to create is up to us — as individuals, but also as people working together. I hope when we each make our choices about how to act in both our natural and cultural worlds, that we choose to better our environment and bring out the best in each other. 

FUN FACTS ABOUT PURPLE MARTINS 

Purple Martin In Flight

• They catch and eat insects on the fly.

• Native Americans have provided nesting gourds for purple martins for centuries.

• Eastern purple martins like apartment-style houses best; western martins prefer gourds.

• Purple martins like to be around people. They are very gregarious.

• Martins are noisy birds with several different songs and calls. Males have a special song they sing at dawn.

• Males look black in dull light and deep, iridescent purple in bright sunlight.

• Females can lay up to five eggs in one gourd.

• Once eggs are laid, they take only a couple of weeks to hatch. Babies are ready to fly a month after that.

• Purple Martins spend the winter in the Amazon Basin.

• Before they migrate, they get together in large groups and then fly south together.

• Thousands of martins used to sit on the powerlines around Green Lake before their population crashed.

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Buy a Beautiful Book and Support UBNA

April 18th, 2011 by UWBG Communication Staff

Marilyn Smith Layton has created a book of images called Seasons of Life in the Union Bay Natural Area, and she is donating the profits from the sale of the book to projects in UBNA. The cost of the book is $60, and $20 of that will go to help the natural area.

You may purchase a copy in the Miller Library (cash or check only). If you would like to purchase by mail, please send a check (written out to Marilyn Smith Layton) to:

Marilyn Smith Layton
c/o UW Botanic Gardens
Box 354115
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Please include an additional $6 for postage and your mailing address. Books will be sent via USPS.

Seasons of Life has emerged from years of photographing the Union Bay Natural Area:  a sanctuary of renewal and inspiration within the UW Botanic Gardens.

A resident of the nearby neighborhood since 1968, Marilyn walks with camera in hand to capture the lives and light that are forever shifting. When her husband Richard Layton was recovering from a near fatal brain disease in the summer of 2009, they measured his progress by how much of the path he could cover. Slowly he came to walk its full circle again.

Both Marilyn and Richard Layton have close ties and loyalty to the University; Richard graduated in the fifth class of the UW Medical School (1954) and for many years directed a residency program in Family Medicine at Providence Hospital for the university, receiving the 2001 Alumni Service Award from the school. Marilyn completed her doctoral coursework in the UW English Department but a full-time teaching contract from North Seattle Community College prevented her from completing the degree, a choice she has not regretted.

For 40 years until her retirement in December 2008, Marilyn taught writing and literature in the Humanities Division at North Seattle. She continues to serve the college as an executive board member and presently vice-chair of its scholarship-granting Education Fund, and as the secretary of the Seattle Community Colleges Foundation. As an active faculty member, she authored three books, a number of articles, and presented workshops on many topics at
conferences around the country, as well as teaching for short periods in India and Argentina. She has participated in photography and art shows, and a few of her paintings still hang at the college.

Years immersed in a natural history class with science colleagues launched her passion for capturing in photographs the life she observed. She and her husband began to travel widely to wild places like the Antarctic and the Galapagos. Those travels have helped focus her love on what is so close to home: the Union Bay Natural Area.

Proceeds from this book will provide financial support for this well-loved place.

Share

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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Many Hands Makes Light Work in the Union Bay Natural Area

September 22nd, 2010 by Tech Librarian, Tracy Mehlin

Between August 2009 and August 2010 the Union Bay Natural Area chalked up 2,050 volunteer service and educational tour hours from student organizations, University of Washington dorm residents, local community groups, the UBNA service corps, and University of Washington courses.  There are numerous opportunities to get involved with the UBNA this academic year through the courses offered as a part of the Restoration Ecology Network, the Society for Ecological Restoration student guild.


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