What lead you to start working as a Forest Steward?
I love birds, and for years have spent countless hours in Discovery Park watching, photographing and generally enjoying the huge variety of bird species found in Discovery Park. Discovery Park has also been an important place for my kids – they both attended pre-school at Nature Kids, and learned about the many plants, insects, birds and mammals that live in the park from their [excellent] teachers.
Knowing this, one of my friends asked if I wanted to spend some time volunteering in the park, so I tried it out and really enjoyed it. When he moved away from the area, I took over his Forest Steward duties.
How long have you been involved with Green Seattle?
I took over a friend’s area (David Divelbiss), where I’d done some volunteering and am very happy to have the opportunity to work in Discovery Park. I’m a first year forest steward, having completed the training classes in September 2018.
What keeps you volunteering with the Green Seattle Partnership?
Everything: The people, the other forest stewards (especially Jeff Rahlmann in my area, and of course the great guys from the Capehart crew); the work; the plants; the enjoyment of watching the areas you work on blossom; the joy of watching more and more birds come through your area; the interactions with people who see you from the loop trail; the sense of peace that comes with working in the forest; and meeting the wide variety of people who turn up for a few hours to pull weeds out of the ground or plant trees and bushes.
Do you have a favorite memory from your involvement?
The first volunteer event that I organized through CEDAR is a favorite. We had an exceptionally hardworking group of volunteers that day. I’d been hitting a wall a bit with the area, realizing in full that I was going to have to learn a lot about working with plants first of all, and secondly also rein in my expectations quite a bit if I was going to be an effective Forest Steward That day, the amount of work this group did, and the fantastic job they did, left me beaming – I couldn’t believe it – and it inspired me. I think that’s the day I really became a Forest Steward.
What is something funny or unusual that has happened at an event/while volunteering?
Mice in our job box was fun: Jeff and I cleaned them out twice as we had a bit of a learning curve with how to keep them out of the job box. They had built quite the cozy nest in there! Also a close encounter with a barred owl that silently landed on a branch a few feet away from where I was working on some blackberry removal one evening.
What part of the work makes you feel that you are making a difference in your community?
I often work close to the loop trail, where there’s a lot of positive feedback from the walkers and hikers. Often people assume that you’re working, not volunteering, because of the orange vests, and also because very few people actually know about the GSP Forest Steward program. I often have to explain my role, and then I inevitably try to recruit them in some way to help. The positive reactions I get show that there is great appreciation in the community for this kind of volunteer work in our parks.
If you were a plant species found at your restoration site (native or non-native) which would it be and why?
I grew up in England, so I feel bad that so many of the invasive species are English… ivy, laurel etc… But joking aside, I’d be Oregon grape, sword fern or salal. I love those plants because they provide the building blocks for the forest.
Anything else you want us to know?
Want to get a chance to meet Tim, and to pick his brain about restoration and the symphony? Or feel inspired to dig in at Discovery Park? Then make sure to check out some of our upcoming Discovery Park events!