On Saturday, July 23rd, ECOSS led a nature walk and habitat restoration event for BIPOC communities in collaboration with Mountains to Sound Greenway, Green Seattle Partnership, and the Audubon Center at Seward Park. BIPOC and low-income communities have historically experienced inequality in access to outdoor parks and environmental stewardship programs. This event served as an opportunity for these communities to come together and enjoy a morning of caring for the forest and learning about one of their local parks.
GSP has been funding ECOSS since last year to provide opportunities for more BIPOC and low-income community members to engage in environmental stewardship programs. This year Greenway Trust helped ECOSS secure additional funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Grant to supplement outreach/recruitment efforts. Outreach and recruitment are unique at ECOSS since the staff speaks the community’s languages and they reach out to the community where they are. This personalized and intentional method of outreach builds authentic relationships between organizations and communities.
Community members started off the morning by sharing their thoughts on how they would like to engage with forests/trees in the future and expressed a strong interest in future planting events and nature walks.
The Lead Naturalist at the Seward Park Audubon Center, Ed Dominguez, led a nature walk for the volunteers that included a lesson on how to use binoculars, and information about the various trees and birds that call the park home. Along the way, the group learned about Douglas fir trees and saw a juvenile hawk and a large bald eagle nest with their binoculars.
Afterward, the community members helped to remove Himalayan Blackberry plants, an invasive species, from an ECOSS adopted site in the park. They learned about the tools and techniques to safely remove this plant since it is covered in thorns and has a large bulb-like structure that needed to be dug out. Removal of these plants will make way for the planting of native brush and trees at a future event in the fall. Providing tools, knowledge, and meeting these communities where they were by having 6 language interpreters available at the program paved the way for a fun and successful event that will have a lasting impact.
ECOSS, Mountains to Sound Greenway, and Green Seattle Partnership also provided lunch, Visa gift cards, beanies, native wildflower seed packets, and raffled outdoor gear to participants to encourage them to pursue outdoor activities and environmental stewardship in the future.