Outdoors

Micro Management

Do good, feel good

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

It’s been a tough winter. Pandemic-prescribed isolation, bouts of nasty weather and a seemingly unending cycle of negative news has done a number on our collective psyches. But although we’re not quite out of the woods when it comes to conquering the coronavirus and figuring out a new normal, that doesn’t mean we can’t still make meaningful connections with our community.

For those looking to both feel good and do good, a variety of upcoming outdoor work parties will bring together those who have a desire to not only help nurture the natural world, but also want to acquaint themselves with likeminded humans as winter turns to spring.

Bellingham Parks and Recreation began their weekly community work parties in late January, so they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to figuring out how to host events while still keeping people safe. To that end, each work party is limited to 10 participants—two separated groups of five—and strict COVID-19 protocols must be followed throughout the three-hour outings, including wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.

While volunteers are restoring wildlife habitat, maintaining trails, picking up litter, planting native shrubs and trees, and removing invasive species, they’ll also be making new friends, learning new skills and—hopefully—having a good time while doing so. Register in advance for upcoming work parties taking place in Bellingham at the 16th Street Trail (Feb. 27), Cornwall Park (March 6), the Parks Native Plant Nursery (March 20 and 27), Julianna Park (April 3), and Squalicum Creek Park (April 10). Tools, gloves, hand sanitizer and instructions will be provided, so all participants will need to do is dress for the weather, wear sturdy shoes and show up with a mask at the ready. Info: http://www.cob.org/parkvolunteer

Micro work parties are also the name of the game for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, the longtime nonprofit focused on reversing the trend of declining salmon runs in Whatcom County. While enhancing river, creek and riparian habitat, they also educate people of all ages in ways to provide Pacific and steelhead salmon the best chance of survival. Those who volunteer not only get an up-close look at the bodies of water the iconic fish will travel through, they also learn about how the work they’re doing will help them brave the currents. For example, those taking part in a Sat., Feb. 27 event at Landingstrip Creek—a property owned by Whatcom Land Trust on a tributary of the South Fork of the Nooksack River—will likely find out why this stem of the Nooksack is critical habitat for most of the Pacific salmon species such as coho, chum and Chinook as they plant native trees and remove invasive species such as pesky Himalayan blackberries.

If that event is already full, look ahead to work parties at the North Fork of Baker Creek (March 6), Terrell Creek (March 13, April 22, and May 1), the North Fork of Dakota Creek (March 18 and April 17), Squalicum Creek (March 20 and May 22), a repeat event at Landingstrip Creek (March 27), Whatcom Creek (April 3), the NSEA Nursery (April 17, 22 and 24), Tenmile Creek (April 24), Vanderyacht Park (May 8), and California Creek (May 15). Before signing up for one or more of the meetings, be sure to review the new policies and precautions NSEA is implementing to keep its community safe during the pandemic. Info: http://www.n-sea.org

With a similar goal, the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group exists to involve local residents in habitat restoration and watershed stewardship with an aim to enhance salmon populations. Since 1990, the nonprofit has worked with local landowners, conservation groups, government agencies and tribes to make this happen, with a mantra of “healthy watersheds, healthy communities.” Volunteers are apt to learn more about the Skagit watershed’s unique ecosystem—which is home to all five species of salmon and three species of sea-going trout—that includes the Skagit and Samish river watersheds, as well as those of the San Juan Islands and northern Whidbey Island.

From 9am-12pm every Thursday through March 25, SFEG staff will be onsite at the group’s native plant nursery in Burlington to share their knowledge as volunteers join weekday potting parties. Maximum participants is 12 for each event, and registration is required (as are masks). From 9am-11:30am and 12:30pm-3pm on Feb. 27 and March 6, planting parties at DeBay’s Slough Swan Reserve in Mount Vernon will also ensue. Each shift will be limited to 25 people, and volunteers will be in separate groups of five people each. By restoring native vegetation, you’ll be doing your part to help the earth and its inhabitants, and it’s likely you’ll feel all the better for it. Info: http://www.skagitfisheries.org

Photo courtesy of Bellingham Parks and Recreation.

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