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Volunteers of all ages come together to restore park

By Nat Levy
Bellevue Reporter

As a group of more than 60 volunteers toiled away, digging out piles of weeds, and planting rolling fields of wildflowers, all it took was a quick glance east at a captivating view of the Cascades bathed in sunshine to see why they were here.

These volunteers spent their Saturday afternoon at Snoqualmie Point Park for Friends of the Forest Day, a collaborative volunteer project put together by the U.S. Forest Service, Mountain to Sound Green, and the state Department of Natural Resources, among other organizations. A diverse group of volunteers rooted around in mounds of dirt working to make the park a continued destination for outdoors enthusiasts throughout the region.

"I really like dirt and getting dirty," said 17-year-old Michele Dusche, a junior at East Lake High School in Sammamish. "The real perk is this view you don't get to see everyday."

The park was set to become an office area in the late 90s before a consortium of businesses, government organizations, and non profits stepped up to buy the area with the intention to keep it a public park. Since 1999, when the park was purchased, groups continued work to beautify the area, which is one of Snoqualmie's top outdoor destinations. The park connects to numerous trails including Rattlesnake Mountain. Featuring an amphitheater sitting in the shadow of the mountains, it is an often-used spot for concerts and weddings.

"We've got this incredible jewel out here; it's basically the gateway to the Cascades," said Margaret Ullman, membership and community manager for Mountains to Sound Greenway, an organization that works to preserve natural attractions through the Interstate 90 corridor.

But plants and trees at times have a tough time growing in the soil. The park is littered with invasive species and weak soil that organizers and volunteers worked to remedy.

Volunteers had a variety of reasons for helping out. Some were outdoor junkies who wanted to see a park they frequented preserved. Dusche and her group of high school cohorts were there as part of their involvement in the National Charity League.

For Ron Fues, a Seattle native, it was about teaching responsibility. Fues brought with him his two children, Sonya, 8 and Tony 5. While Ron Fues raked tirelessly through a field to prepare for flower planting, he urged the children to join alongside him. Ron Fues hoped to impart in his children a sense of duty and willingness to undertake community service projects in the future.

"I want to make it a habit to make it seem more natural when they grow up."

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