Friends of Marymoor Park

Tree and Natural Area Replacement Project 2003

See a table of Avian usage of the Snag Area Jan. 2003-Sept. 2004

In the early 1900's, several rows of Black Cottonwood trees were planted at Marymoor Park.  One row was along the south edge of the west entrance road.  Another row was along the line separating the Community Gardens ("Pea Patch") and the Interpretive Lot from the grass athletic fields.

By the end of 2002, these cottonwoods were about at the end of their natural lives.  Unfortunately, the end of life period for a cottonwood involves dropping large branches randomly over a period of years. (When I say randomly - the most common time is in the middle of a nice, hot, summer day).  Because of the high number of people who use the park right underneath these trees, the County decided that they had to go.

Friends of Marymoor Park (FOMP) has long advocated for more replanting of trees, so FOMP and the King County Parks and Recreation Division (Parks) partnered to apply for, and get, an Urban Forestry Grant of $37,500 from the Natural Resource Stewardship NetworkThis project is funded in part by the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks through the Natural Resource Stewardship Network, with assistance from Washington Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. The total project budget of nearly $100,000 includes contributions of labor, materials, and equipment by the Park, as well as significant material contributions and hundreds of volunteer hours from Marymoor Park user groups, including FOMP, SODA, the Community Gardeners, the Sammamish Rowing Association, Lake Washington Soccer Association and the Marymoor Velodrome Association.

Rather than simply removing these trees wholesale, this project aims to enhance these zones as wildlife corridors.  The project involves evaluating the condition of the trees, preserving the existing trees that are viable and healthy, retaining large portions of the trunks of some of the trees as snags for habitat trunks and nesting, and selective removal of the remaining trees.  Arborists cut the trees during the third week of January. 

More than 1500 replacement trees and under-storey plants will be planted, weed barriered and mulched, which will increase the diversity of habitat for wildlife. The entire area will be fenced to protect the plantings.  Volunteers will help with planting and fence building, as well as aftercare and monitoring of the site.  The first planting was held on January 20, and several hundred new trees and shrubs were planted.  Additional plantings will be held in February 2003.  Fencing will also be installed before March 15. 

There will be interpretive signs to let park users understand what has happened, and why this will be a benefit to the park in the long term, as well as providing a safer environment in the short term.

Given that the trees were deemed a hazard, and had to be removed, we feel that this is the best possible outcome.  The corridor of trees will be enlarged, in fact, and snags will provide interim habitat until the new plants can grow larger.  There will obviously be a change in the character of the area over the short term.  But 20 years from now, we should be able to point to this as a real cooperative success in improving the park.

Thanks go to the Natural Resource Stewardship Network for the grant and to the Marymoor Park user groups who have volunteered.  Kudos to the Marymoor Park staff and FOMP President Greg Helland for their hard work in bringing about this park enhancement.


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