Submitted by Nancy E. Henderson.
On Sunday, 29 October, 19 volunteers, including a local witch, enjoyed ideal weather conditions as they began restoration of a stretch of the 5th Street Waterway. The workers ranged in age from 3 to over three quarters of a century. The project was led by Alex Chaney, a member of the Steilacoom Parks and Environment Advisory Committee. The workers completed the task of laying down a layer of cardboard then mulch to suppress invasive plants well ahead of the two scheduled hours.
New to Steilacoom work parties is the addition of a trailer equipped by Public Works with tools and supplies for volunteer use. Having tools already on site was a great convenience.
The 5th Street Waterway in the Town of Steilacoom flows from Farrell’s Marsh into Puget Sound collecting stormwater along the way. A 0.4-mile stretch of the waterway is degraded with invasive plants and is exposed to full sun. There are few native shrubs to shade the waterway to reduce water temperatures flowing into the Sound or to provide cover for resident amphibians.
The Steilacoom Town Council selected this waterway as the priority focus area for the Town’s Stormwater Management Action Plan. As part of that plan, the Steilacoom Parks and Environment Advisory Committee, with consultation from the Pierce Conservation District, coordinated with Town staff plans to restore a section of the waterway. This demonstration project will help determine the practicality and feasibility of further plant restoration along other sections of the waterway.
The next step will be to add mulch to the current layer. Later, native plants will be planted through the mulch and cardboard layers, protected by plant tubes and cages as needed. Periodic volunteer work parties will need to be held for several years after the planting to ensure that invasive plants are suppressed until ideally native plants predominate.
The Town of Steilacoom is grateful for the $2000 grant awarded to the Town by the Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed Small Grants program. The funds will be used for the purchase of native plants, installation materials, and informational signs.