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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Olalla Bay, Olalla, Washington, USA

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Olalla Bay, Olalla, Washington, USA
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zoemt



Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Olalla
Posts: 1
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Ten years ago, my family made the decision to leave city life behind. As we were shopping for a new home, we stumbled upon a beautiful property in Olalla. With six acres on the waterfront of the Olalla Bay, we determined it was a perfect place to settle. Unfortunately, upon visiting the property, we discovered it practically paved in garbage. Disgusted by the state of a property that houses hundreds of species of wild animals and directly abuts a bay through which salmon reach a nearby spawning site, we determined that by cleaning the house and yard, we could not only make ourselves a beautiful home but also restore local wildlife to a safe and healthy habitat.
When we moved in, the yard was cluttered with hazardous materials. Hypodermic needles, tattered cans and broken glass scattered the yard; five pairs of industrial strength rubber gloves and boots later, my mother, father, two sisters and I buckled down to work. Our first priority was to rid the yard of the massive collections of garbage heaped on every acre. My sisters and I set to collecting the litter scattered willy-nilly while my parents guided work crews in removing not only countless mountains of garbage festooning the property but also an old boat and a half-burned horse trailer—both full of garbage—laying derelict in the front yard. Having rid the yard of the most offensive trash, my family and I began work upon the back five acres of land. Originally a berry farm, then turned cow pasture, the cleared but neglected land had completely overgrown with nonnative species, such as scotch broom and invasive blackberries. Barbed wire fences from the area’s days as a fenced pasture had never been deconstructed, and the dangerous fence spikes as well as the now-rusty barbed wire was woven inextricably through the entire mess. Horrifically, the more mess we cleared, the more we found hidden in the tangle.
I am proud to say that through the cleaning process, my family stayed eco-friendly. The slash we cleared was not burnt, but mulched to fertilize the natural hedgerows of indigenous plants that now fence our property in lieu of barbed wire. The back six acres, while cleared of invasive plants non-native to the area, is now growing ferns, salal, huckleberries, pine, fir, cedar trees and more. Ten years after moving in, we just saw the last of the three cars trapped in the bushes towed off to be recycled.
Today, my family and I enjoy a beautiful property and even more beautiful wildlife. Each year we live here and clean the area, we see more and more white tailed deer; this year we were privileged to watch two does raise twin fawns in our own back yard. We have seen marked improvement in the population of a variety pigmy rabbit native to this area; as that population increases, we have spotted increasingly more coyotes and foxes as well. By using chickens and dogs instead of insecticides, fences and sprays to protect our gardens, we are also now able to enjoy a blossoming population of Northern Flickers and other woodpecker species as they hammer ants and termites out of trees, stumps and anthills. Among other animal populations that have notably increased are tree frogs, blue herons, seals, otters, dog sharks, black bears, eagles, raccoons, opossums, butterflies, hawks, hummingbirds and honeybees. On the waterfront, by designating a pathway down our bank we have limited erosion and have noticed more healthful salmon streams as well as increased populations of sand dollars, starfish, oysters, mussels and crab. My family has even found baby octopi in the nearby tide pools.
I feel that by tackling what was an ecological disaster and creating veritable parkland for native plants and animals, my family and I have made a great contribution to the Pacific Northwest’s general wellbeing. Having finally reached homeostasis on our own land, I have been inspired to reach out further. Every summer, at the Fourth of July, merrymakers flock to the bay and light countless fireworks. The aftermath is horrific: a chaos of cardboard cartons, beer bottles, broken glass and plastic. This summer, I am organizing a summer clean-up crew to tackle the post-Fourth havoc. By removing this toxic tidal wave of litter from the water, I feel that my community can make a great difference in the health of the Puget Sound. I hope that by bolstering community spirit with the Fourth Clean Up, I can encourage my community to organize a series of scourings of the bay itself to clean the sand flats of the golf balls, tires, shoes, beer cans, batteries, Styrofoam, plastic bottles and other litter that permeates the mud of the bay. My goal is that by encouraging the people of this neighborhood to be ecologically conscious, we can stop litter at its source. If we can stop litter in our own corner of the Puget Sound, I hope to see that the spirit will spread and we can eventually return the Sound to a pristine state in which humans and wildlife can coexist peacefully.
Date: December 31, 2010 Views: 6260 File size: 18.6kb, 1919.3kb : 2560 x 1920
Hours Volunteered: 5000
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 60
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 2.4
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pavi

Registered: May 2011
City/Town/Province: tirupur
Posts: 1
May 30, 2011 4:34am

Hey, its a great job done by you and your family. It gave life to many animals.
Keep on doing!