I was in Ellensburg this past week for the Greenway Trust’s first foray into planting projects at Reecer Creek, a tributary of the Yakima River. Until October of 2010, nearly 4,000 feet of the stream’s lowest reach was confined by a levee. The Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration project set back the levee, opened up 58 acres of floodplain, carving a meandering stream channel through the area. This fall, the Greenway Trust is helping to plant trees in order to restore the health of the area.
The schedule included a week of site prep followed by two volunteer events on Friday and Saturday.
We sent one of our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crews to Ellensburg to spend the better part of the week planting trees at the Reecer Creek site preparing for the events. Mid-week, they were joined by our National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) crew. Both crews assisted the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group and two local WCC crews, helping to plant over a 1,000 trees on-site on one of the days alone. The high energy and enthusiasm from the 30+ AmeriCorps crew members was a highlight for the Mid-Columbia staff. The enthusiasm was so contagious that Scott Nicolai, Fish Biologist for the Yakama Nation, who worked with the NCCC crew during the site prep and planting, was kind enough to pay for the NCCC crew members to attend a music performance Friday night at a local cafe where a great time was had by all.
On both Friday and Saturday, we supported two of Mid-Columbia’s volunteer events. These events (20-25 folks each) were a lot of fun and a great introduction to the Ellensburg community. Even though we had some chilly weather, we had a strong group of afternoon volunteers who planted more than 300 trees. The morning shift had been cancelled because it snowed Friday night. We had to make sure that the plants wouldn’t freeze by storing them in one of our partner’s horse trailer with a propane heater.
It was a great opportunity to work with new and existing partners, explore the area with our crews, and continue raising awareness about the Greenway. Our NCCC crews are out working on the project again this entire week.
Tor Bell is the Greenway Trust’s Restoration Program Manager.