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A 5-acre gravel pit that is being restored to native plant communities as part of re-licensing of the Alder dam run by Tacoma Power on the Nisqually River. The pit is situated well above the river floodplain and contains little vegetation despite previous grass seeding to stabilize soils.

2002 - 2003


2002 - 2003
Project name
Nisqually gravel pit restoration
Ashford, Nisqually River
Tacoma Power Public Utility
S. Baker (UW Seattle; Environmental Horticulture & Botany), A. Ritchie (UW Seattle; Biology - Zoology), W. Osenga, P. Sandvik, J. Hall (UW Tacoma; Environmental Science), J. Moore (non-matriculated)
Site description
The gravel pit has been regraded to remove severe slope angles and stockpiled topsoils were replaced over a portion of the site. Some areas contained non-native vegetation (e.g., reed canarygrass in wet depressions) but most of the site had little plant cover.
Restoration challenge
Client was required to restore the entire site to native plant communities, with a primary goal of providing elk habitat. Students were charged to develop a phased, restoration plan for the entire site along with implementing restored experimental and demonstration plots.
Restoration approach
UW-REN students, working with Tacoma Power staff, removed some non-native species, recontoured slopes, applied top soil, biosolids, and other mulches to prepare the site for planting. Native trees, shrubs, grasses, and herbs were added to experimental plots with a focus on species (1) able to tolerate poor soil conditions (coarse, droughty gravels or compacted hardpans) and able to establish a shade canopy to control potential invasion by non-native species and (2) to promote establishment of forest and shrub communities appropriate for ungulate habitat. UW-REN students established the experimental design and data collection protocols used by Tacoma Power to evaluate planting strategies used for the remainder of the gravel pit area in the coming months.