River shoreline getting greener

The Nisqually River shoreline will once again become greener and healthier next Monday in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, thanks in part to Cris Peck, a Washington Service Corps AmeriCorps member. For the third year in a row, Peck has organized volunteers to remove invasive species and plant areas of the shoreline with native shrubs and trees beneficial to stream-bank restoration. In honor of the day that annually honors King's memory, Peck will lead a group of about 40 volunteers on Jan. 19 in the planting of Nootka rose, Pacific ninebark, Scouler's willow and other native species in part of the Yelm Shoreline Protected Area, a three-mile stretch covering almost 250 acres. The University of Puget Sound, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and other AmeriCorps members will supply volunteer time and muscle. Peck knows the shoreline well. He spent the last two years as volunteer coordinator for the Nisqually Land Trust, a non-profit organization that works to preserve the Nisqually River watershed. "I really identify with the Land Trust mission,GÇ¥ said Peck, who moved to the Northwest from Ohio after earning a university degree in environmental studies. "Ever since I got here, I wanted to stick around.GÇ¥ Washington Service Corps members can serve at schools, non-profits and public agencies fighting illiteracy and poverty, and promoting public safety, access to healthcare and other community needs. To prepare for planting, Peck, Land Trust staff members and volunteers spent months battling reed canarygrass, an invasive species that can quickly grow a carpet of grass eight feet tall, crowding out native plants that support habitat and protect against erosion. "We weed-whacked, then laid down burlap sacks to keep the canarygrass from sprouting in the spring,GÇ¥ Peck said. "Then we came back again and again and again to weed-whack more and lay down more burlap. Our goal is to reforest the area for the health of the water and the health of the wildlife, especially the salmon that run upstream.GÇ¥ Two planting sessions are scheduled for Jan. 19 - one from 9 a.m. to noon, the other from 1 to 4 p.m. Depending on their shift, volunteers should arrive at 8:45 or 12:45 p.m. to walk with him to the site to be sure they can find it, Peck said. They can meet him at 17836 State Route 507 SE., across the road from Stewart's Meat Market in Yelm.


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