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DNR to Remove Invasives, Restore Native Plants in Pioneer Park on Mercer Island

In exchange for participating in the state Urban Forestry Restoration Project, Mercer Island will receive an in-kind grant of manpower to remove invasives and restore native plant life in Pioneer Park this November.

Mercer Island City Council unanimously approved a plan on Monday for a State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) team to help restore part of the urban forest in Pioneer Park.

Under an interlocal agreement with DNR's Urban and Community Forest Program, a team of six Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) workers will remove English ivy, Himalayan blackberry and other noxious weeds from a section of the northwest quadrant of Pioneer Park through November.

The work is intended to improve the health and functionality of trees and forested sites in urban settings. According to the city, invasive, non-native plants compete for water and nutrients from this otherwise healthy forested area and diminish the health and ability of the forest to manage stormwater and enhancing air quality up to its full potential.

In exchange for its participation in the project, City Hall will be required to develop and implement a three-year maintenance plan for the project site, to include annual monitoring, and to report monitoring results to DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program annually for three years.

City Parks & Recreation Director Bruce Fletcher says the city will receive 720 hours of labor in exchange for tracking the report. Fletcher says that six staff members from the Department of Natural Resources will work for the city of three weeks, a $10,000 value.

An additional benefit to noxious weed removal is the elimination of the dense thickets that can harbor rats and other vermin and the public safety hazard they represent. Once the unwelcome plants are removed, native vegetation will be planted in its place.

The work to be performed by the WCC is consistent with restoration efforts outlined in the City's Open Space Vegetation Management Plan and the Pioneer Park Forest Health Plan. The work will complement previous invasive species removal efforts initiated in the area in 2004.

To learn more about how you can help keep Pioneer Park healthy in the future, contact Alaine Sommargren, Mercer Island Parks Natural Resource Specialist, at 206-275-7879 or alaine.sommargren@mercergov.org.

(Ed. Note: Some of the information in this article was obtained from a city press release.)

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