First ever North Cascades Wild day trip
On Saturday, March 21st, thirteen NC Wild participants joined North Cascades National Park staff members, NCI staff and graduate students for a day of community service projects at the Marblemount Nursery. Our goal for the day was to clean up the nursery beds which were covered with pine needles, small twigs, branches and leaves from a long winter.
The participants gathered early in the morning for a beautiful, spring morning drive up valley. The mountains were finally out after what has felt like weeks of gloom, the sun beamed down on us and blue herons, red-tailed hawks and robins could be seen along the roadside.
Once at the nursery everyone got down to the business of determining who would be going on their trips. For many of us this event signaled the beginning of NC Wild for the season and made us realize that we will soon be out on Ross Lake, canoeing, working on service projects, backpacking, and climbing Desolation Peak. And while I cannot speak for everyone involved I overheard more than one person say, “I can’t wait to get out there.”
The Marblemount Nursery
After introductions, NPS staff Michael Brondi, Pat Buller and Cheryl Cunningham showed us around the nursery and green house. While inside of the greenhouse Mike talked about photosynthesis, seed gathering and plant propagation. He also emphasized the care that the park takes when replanting in disturbed areas and how they use seeds and plant starts that were gathered within one mile of the site.
Mike Brondi teaching NC Wild participants about planting, photosynthesis and native plants.
Finally, it was time to get our hands dirty! Under the direction of Pat, Cheryl and Mike we headed out to the nursery and started cleaning up. This included raking the walkways, moving brush piles and clearing each small pot of pine needles and debris. It was slow work but it gave all of us an opportunity to talk about the upcoming NC Wild trips, learn a bit about one another and just time to think. And this is how we spent the better part of our day, in the nursery, on our hands and knees, carefully brushing pine needles out of small pots so that tiny salal, blueberry, and trailing twin flower could grow.
Carlos, Katie, Mike and Fanny hard at work.
Just before leaving we gathered to reflect on the day and share our thoughts. As we went around the circle comments from individuals included, “I made a difference today,” “I learned how to help the plants,” “I feel more connected with nature,” and “This is hard work!” I think those sentiments say it all. Everyone involved in the service project made a difference, likely went away with a few sore muscles and learned something new about themselves and the plants we worked with.Special thanks to North Cascades National Park Staff Michael Brondi, Pat Buller and Cheryl Cunningham for sharing the day with us and all of the NC Wild participants who sacrificed their Saturday morning to help out at the Marblemount Nursery.