Businesses Create Better Ground

At the end of August, Snohomish Conservation District gathered dozens of local volunteers together behind the Stanwood Camano Village to help restore a bare and degraded landscape right in their own backyard. Our Community Conservation team has been working hard to reach businesses and community members within project areas. 

We feel that educating the public and the people who use the land is just as important as actually implementing these low-impact development projects. We are looking for projects that can be sustained by the people who live and work there so projects can continue to function long after they have been implemented. For this project, we recruited employees from local businesses, including the YMCA, the Everett Clinic, Port Susan Dental Care, Subway, and Process Solutions.

The natural area southeast of the 57-acre Stanwood Camano Village has historically served as a secluded walking spot for locals. This area includes a bioretention swale and two fenced retention ponds. These natural areas filter and retain stormwater runoff from the nearby parking lots, but have remained largely undeveloped and off-limits to the public, we’re grateful to the City of Stanwood for their help and openness with this project. 

Many volunteers who participated in the event had no idea this area even existed! Now that they have contributed to the project, gotten their hands dirty, and helped to create a more inviting green space, many say they will be back to walk the trail on their lunch break and visit the plants they planted. 

It is this type of community engagement the District’s Community Conservation team strives for. When businesses and community members are given the power to improve the places they live and work, there is much more incentive to keep these places looking nice and functioning properly while also opening the door for future work. 

Using grant money from the Department of Ecology, we removed the 8-foot high chain link fence and invasive weeds that blocked access to the ponds, opening up the viewing space. With the help of volunteers—including 22 children from the local YMCA Stanwood Summer Camp—we began planting 1,000 ecologically-friendly plants, including native strawberries, roses, and dogwoods.

Leftover work was completed by our crews—the Washington Conservation Corps crew and the Veteran Conservation Corps crew, composed of AmeriCorps members and United States military veterans, respectively. We hope that this project will remain an ecologically-healthy, beautiful space for the community to enjoy for years to come.

By Alicia Kellogg and Cameron Coronado, Community Conservation Technicians | From Volume 28: Issue 2 of The Nexus