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Sounders assist at Lake Sammamish State Park

By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Press
Players join Mountains to Sound Greenway restoration project

Seattle Sounders FC fans often hold blue-and-green scarves aloft to show support for the team at CenturyLink Field.

Fans offered the same ardent support Aug. 29 for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust at Lake Sammamish State Park. The restoration team greeted Sounders forward David Estrada and midfielder Servando Carrasco as volunteers pulled invasive plants.

The invasive plants crowd out species native to Western Washington, such as salmonberry and Western red cedar. Some waist-high Western red cedars — the result from a 2010 greenway project — lined the makeshift path to the restoration site along Issaquah Creek.

The restoration project attracted dozens of people to the creek ban on a balmy summer afternoon, as clouds and sun played peek-a-boo overhead.

Fans, some dressed in Sounders regalia, trekked to the remote stretch along the creek to thorny blackberry plants.

Greenway Restoration Program Manager Tor Bell said the organization relies on volunteers for maintenance and restoration projects in the greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington. The greenway stretches through Issaquah along Interstate 90.

The ongoing project fits into a broader effort to remove invasive plants from creekside habitat and add native plant species to create a canopy.

“Restoration is a very long-term goal,” Bell said.

The multiyear effort received a boost in recent months as FedEx, Microsoft and Starbucks dispatched employees to restore the park habitat. The collaboration between the greenway and the Sounders marked the initial joint effort between the organization and the soccer club.

Greenway Information Manager Amy Brockhaus and son Holden, 9, joined the restoration project to participate in community service — and for a chance to meet Sounders players face to face. Brockhaus and Holden, like other Sounders fans in the state park, cheer on the team at matches.

“We try to volunteer, and I teach him to give back to the community,” she said as Holden heaved a blackberry vine from the creek bank.

The greenbelt links natural areas, farms, forests, communities, recreation opportunities, and habitat for fish and wildlife, such as salmon in Issaquah Creek.

“We can make a very big impact in a very short time,” Brockhaus said.

Greenway Restoration Specialist Jennifer McKeown dressed almost-18-month-old daughter Anastasiya in Sounder blue and Rave green — down to a gossamer tutu in the same shades — for the Lake Sammamish State Park project. McKeown’s husband Geoff, a fanatical Sounders fan, joined the restoration effort, too.

McKeown created the planting plan for the section along Issaquah Creek. The opportunity to see progress as trees transform from seedlings to something more is gratifying, she said.

“I’ve been back to see projects go from knee high to 25 or 30 feet tall,” she said.

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