What’s Going on Around the Burnt Tree?

March 12th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

By Andrew Fraser

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler's Pond

Preparing the area to be planted with native grasses and flowers near Shoveler’s Pond

If you have walked around Shoveler’s Pond in the Union Bay Natural Area (Montlake Fill) this month you have seen the area undergoing a flurry of activity from plowing to bulldozers moving dirt. This is all part of the ESRM 473 restoration project. Each winter quarter, students in the class design and implement a restoration project in the Union Bay Natural Area. Previous year projects have included mound construction and prairie plant installation around Shoveler’s Pond, trimming the willows and clearing up the area around the large central pond, wetland construction and prairie conversion of the E5 parking lot.

photo

Planting native grasses near Shoveler’s Pond.

This year is the first of a multi-year process of converting the non-native grassland of UBNA into that of the local South Puget Sound Prairies and Gary Oak Savannas. Students have selected, propagated and purchased a large quantity of plants and seeds of  native flora and have begun installing them this week. The goal of these projects is to help our native flora to get a leg up over the large number of non-native plants in the area and provide an easy view location of some of the beautiful local native grasses and wildflowers. Within the next two years, this year’s project site will change from an open gravel and sand patch to a prairie landscape covered with native grasses such as Idaho Fescue, Blue Wildrye, and Tufted Hairgrass with wildflowers such as Common Camas, White Fawn lily, Chocolate lilies, Prairie lupine, Scarlet Paint Brush, and Broad-leafed Shooting Start blooming in the area from Early Spring to Early Summer.

Please forgive our mess and come see the next stage of UBNA’s transformation from the Montlake Dump to a premier Seattle natural area.

UW Student Restoration Ecology Program featured in BGjournal

March 8th, 2013 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

BGjournal 10.1The January 2013 edition of BGjournal features an article on the restoration work UW students have accomplished as part of the Restoration Ecology Capstone course sequence. The capstone works with community partners to accomplish restoration projects in and around Seattle. Capstone projects have helped to restore 15 acres of the Union Bay Natural Area, a former landfill.

To learn more, read the full article:

BGjournal 10.1

UBNA hosts creatures of all sizes…urban wildlife never ceases to amaze!

February 10th, 2013 by Rosemary Baker, UBNA RA

 

A surprising UBNA find - a western redback salamander (Plethedon vehiculum)

A surprising UBNA find – a western redback salamander (Plethedon vehiculum)

Amphibians are the canary in the mineshaft, warning-systems for deteriorating ecosystems and yet this species was found in the former-landfill, Union Bay Natural Area, in January 2013.  Nestled beneath woody debris and in hibernation mode, it was accidentally discovered by a volunteer during a work party to remove Himalayan blackberry.  Why isn’t this one “red-backed”, you ask?  That’s because although most commonly having an orangey-red dorsal stripe, this species occasionally presents a yellow one instead.

What a great find!

 

 

What’s new in Union Bay Natural Area for 2013, you ask?

February 10th, 2013 by Rosemary Baker, UBNA RA

Greetings! I’m excited and grateful to be the 2013 UBNA graduate student manager for winter and spring quarters. I will be leading volunteer groups maintaining restoration sites throughout the natural area and this season we have begun an internship program with students from Edmonds Community College!

The interns and I are working every Tuesday and Thursday through early June, so if you have any interest in getting dirty, releasing some pent up aggression on the proper objects (weeds!), and basking in the beauty of urban nature, we’re happy to have individual folks join us.  Or if you have a group and wish to arrange for a volunteer work party please contact UBNA manager, Dr. Kern Ewing. His contact info can be found through the University of Washington staff directory.

UBNA Assistant manager, Rosemary Baker planting Skunk cabbage

UBNA Assistant manager, Rosemary Baker planting Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)

Am so pleased to contribute to the Center for Urban Horticulture community. Happy gardening!

-Rosemary Baker

Native Camas in bloom

April 24th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

Did you know that the Camas bulb with its stunning blue and purple star-shaped flowers is native to the western US?

We recently spotted some Camas in bloom in the Union Bay Natural Area near parking lot E5. Go have a look!

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

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

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.

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

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!