NC Wild and Kulshan Creek come together for stewardship

The Kulshan Creek Neighborhood from Mount Vernon joined up with North Cascades Wild students on August 16th for a day of stewardship on Baker Lake.
The last session of NC Wild, and my last event with the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Program this year, was an event to put in the books. Next to the three-day Kulshan Creek Mountain School in July at the Environmental Learning Center, there has been no other Kulshan Creek event to match the laughter and good times of this particular day!
The day began when staff and donors from the Institute and Forest Service employees met with the NC Wild crew to share brief introductions and an overview of what promised to be a fabulous day. When the kiddos from Kulshan Creek showed up and introductions were over, we split up into different task groups and got to work right away! Under the guidance of the NC Wild students, the Kulshan Creek kids, Institute staff, donors, and US Forest Service employees were all put to work to do some good stewarding on Lower Sandy Campground in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

One crew was on demolition duty; they removed all the illegal fire pits from the Campground. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

One group installed a brand new hefty fire ring, one group destroyed illegally placed fire rings, another planted ferns in disturbed sites along the road and trails, and another group picked up trash throughout the whole campground. I was on the trash crew, and everything was going fine for the first half hour until an NC Wild student shouted that she was going to need some help. Evidently, she had found a bag of garbage, unearthed it, and discovered an old garbage dump site filled with aging bottles and trash. Needless to say, our whole crew was focused on that one particular area for a quite some time!

It took some elbow grease and teamwork to clear out a dump site. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

The first half of the day went well and ended with a lot of visible improvements to the campground. Then, the second (and younger) half of the Kulshan Creek group joined us for lunch. During lunch, there was a bit of a rush among the Kulshan Creek kiddos to finish eating and go for a quick dip in Baker Lake. Before we knew it, they were soaked through their jeans and loving every second of it! I even joined them for a bit, thanks to a challenge given to them by my Stewardship partner in crime, Jeff Anderson, North Cascades Institute’s Science Coordinator).

Graduate Student Ashley Kvitek gets in the water with Kulshan Creek! Photo by Jeff Anderson.

The second half of the day was a change of pace, but just as rewarding as the first half. Each student from NC Wild gave a presentation that explained to the audience who they were and why they were participating in the NC Wild program. Each was fantastically done and brought about tears and laughter, not to mention really great questions from the audience. To see how one program and the community that is built around that program can impact the lives of 9 students in just 12 short days is incredibly uplifting; it inspires hope for future generations and for the future of public lands.
At the end of the day, no one wanted to go home. We had been given a peek into a wonderful community filled with really astounding students doing good work for their environment. It was the perfect way to end my year of residency as a graduate student here at North Cascades Institute. Thank you Stew Crew 2012!

A great ending to an amazing day of stewardship and community! Photo by Ashley Kvitek.

Leading Photo of North Cascades Wild students and Kulshan Creek participants getting dirty to help clean up Mt. Baker Recreation Area. Photo by Jeff Anderson.

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