Sure, there were logistical challenges: horrible weather, boot-sucking mud, king tides, and the fact that we had to bring in most of the trees and plants by boat. Nonetheless, thanks to the stewardship team, Land Trust volunteers, and very hard-working crews, we planted 35,000 trees and shrubs on our Kandoll Farm site this spring. The site is located on the Grays River in Wahkiakum County, Washington, about 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean. All of the species we planted—including Sitka spruce, black cottonwood, three species of willow, red-osier dogwood, ninebark, and spiraea—are typical to native Sitka spruce swamps, exactly the habitat we’re trying to grow.
If you’ve been following our Kandoll work, you’ll know that we excavated three miles of channels and reconnected the land to the Grays River tides in summer 2013. Planting shrubs and trees is the next step of restoring the land. One day, these young plants will provide shade to lower water temperatures for salmonids and also provide elk, deer, waterfowl, and other wildlife species with native habitat and food sources. They’ll also prevent soil erosion, promote floodwater attenuation, and aid in vital wetland sediment-accretion processes. (Nontechnical translation: They’ll help hold water onsite, which allows sediment to settle out and the land to naturally build up over time.)
We’re also watching how the site’s natural vegetation is responding to its new hydrologic regime, now that tides are flowing over the land again. Early indications are that native grasses and forbs are flushing back, although we’re keeping an eye on reed canary grass and other infamous invaders to ensure they don’t take up residence.–Jeff Malone