swiftwater-students-seed-native-grasses-on-cle-elum-ridge

By Tonya Morrey, Outreach and Stewardship Coordinator, Central Cascades

Amongst the spring beauties, glacier lilies, arrow leaf balsam root, and occasional trillium, you cannot deny spring is in full swing on the Cle Elum Ridge. What better way to celebrate than planting native grass seed with local school students?

We gathered with students from Swiftwater Learning Center under a large ponderosa pine and we discussed the purpose of mastication, or using big machinery to chomp up brush and small trees. Mastication is designed to reduce the threat of fire in the forest and improve forest health.

A student loads native grass seeds into a seed disperser. Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Learning Center.

A student loads native grass seeds into a seed disperser. Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Learning Center.

On this beautiful day in May we were planting native grasses to out-compete non-native species that try to fill in after the forest goes through a disturbance like mastication.

Students helped seed native grasses in areas that had been treated with mastication.

Students helped seed native grasses in areas that had been treated with mastication.

After our chat, students partnered up and marched over the slash-covered forest floor with long measuring tapes, flagging, and compasses to mark off 40 x 40-foot plots. Once complete, they exchanged their equipment for a bag of grass seed and a seed disperser. With a few passes through their plot, we planted around 20 pounds per acre.

The Swiftwater students planted about half our seed supply in 1 day of work. Their efficiency doubled the next day and the grass seeding machines got the rest planted in a couple hours! I hope the students will hike or bike the ridge and come back to see how their 13 plots are doing in the future.

Read more about restoration work on Cle Elum Ridge.

A happy crew after a full day of sowing native grass seeds on Cle Elum Ridge. Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Learning Center.

A happy crew after a full day of sowing native grass seeds on Cle Elum Ridge. Photo courtesy of Swiftwater Learning Center.

Banner photo © Tomas Corsini, volunteer photographer.


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