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Apr 27

Restoration Continues at South Prairie Creek Preserve!

Posted on April 27, 2022 at 2:16 PM by Camila Matamala-Ost

A volunteer plants Western Red Cedar at Orca Recovery day.Restoration efforts continue at Pierce Conservation District’s South Prairie Creek Preserve! In mid-October, we kicked off the fall planting season with a large-scale planting on the north floodplain. Between October 2021 and March 2022, several new planting areas were the focus of our revegetation efforts. Read on to learn about the restoration accomplished over the fall and spring and the challenges we faced on the way.

It Takes a Village to Make a FloodplainFour members of Washington Conservation Corps Crew sit in front of a field of trees they planted.

Everything at South Prairie Creek preserve relies on collaboration, and this planting season demonstrated that.

We began plant installations with the celebration of Orca Recovery Day 2021, where volunteers planted 360 native trees and shrubs. Following Orca Recovery Day, PCD hosted two additional volunteer work parties in mid-January and mid-February, where volunteers planted 490 native shrubs.

Between these volunteer planting events Washington Conservation Corps crews, Pierce Conservation Disrict staff and interns installed 10,943 native plants over 15 acres of floodplain and riparian habitat. In addition to those plantings, several EarthCorps crews completed three infill plantings within our restoration areas.

Overall, our collaborative efforts resulted in installing 12,293 native trees, shrubs, and live stake cuttings across over 20 acres, and along half a mile of South Prairie Creek! It really does take a community to plant a floodplain!Longtime volunteer Lloyd Fetterly adds protective tubing to plants at South Prairie Creek Preserve

Overcoming ChallengesArtboard 4

Although we made some great progress, this planting season has not been without its challenges. Three flooding events took place over the course of this planting season causing slight setbacks. As water levels rose, newly installed plants were submerged underwater in portions of the site. A small number of plants were uprooted and swept away. Plant protection tubes were dispersed across the site and large woody debris were deposited across the floodplain. These events created extra work, but despite these setbacks, we were able to clean up the flooding damage and meet our planting goals.

The ecosystems along South Prairie Creek are resilient and have adapted to survive extreme events such as flooding. As the newly installed plants become established, they provide critical functions to the ecosystem. These functions include; flood mitigation, filtration of water and sediments, erosion control, groundwater recharge, and the creation of vital habitat for numerous wildlife species.

A big thank you to all the amazing community volunteers, crews, and other helping hands who made this work possible! We look forward to seeing many of you back out at the site as we continue our restoration efforts at South Prairie Creek Preserve.

Protective tubs next to young plants in a field at South Prairie Creek Preserve.

A field of plants protected by tubes at South Prairie Creek Preserve

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