You don’t need a green thumb to help maintain a healthy environment in your community. All you need are willing volunteers, gloves and maybe a shovel or two.
Luckily, that was provided to the volunteers at this year’s Green Tukwila Day, which took place Oct. 6 at Tukwila Park.
According to Olena Perry, volunteer and events specialist for the city of Tukwila, more than 50 volunteers worked during the second Green Tukwila Day.
She said volunteers included Tukwila REI employees, high school students, environmental clubs, Rotary Club of Southcenter and Tukwila residents.
Although Green Tukwila Day has only been around in Tukwila for two years, it has a nation-wide connection.
Green Tukwila Day is part of “Green Cities Day,” a national collaboration of cities working toward the same goal — restore parks and open spaces in each city, according to Perry.
“Tukwila’s program and initiative is called “Green Tukwila.” Together with Forerra, EarthCorps, the Student Conservation Association, Duwamish Alive Coalition and the Tukwila community, Green Tukwila will care for public parks and natural open spaces across the city,” Perry explained in an email. “Throughout the next 20 years the partnership will work to restore and maintain 138 acres of Tukwila’s urban forest.”
The hope is that Tukwila will continue to have healthy parks and open, natural green spaces.
Perry said parks and green spaces are a gift that people should not take advantage of.
“They provide places where people can connect with nature close to home, provide a variety of health benefits that natural spaces bring, they also keep air and waterways clean, buffer noise, provide habitats for local wildlife and absorb carbon to fight against climate change,” she said. “These places can take care of themselves in an urban environment if we make sure we have sustainable, healthy urban forests for today, tomorrow and into the future.”
During this year’s Green Tukwila Day, Perry said volunteers were tasked with trying to get rid of “invasives.”
Invasives are plants like English ivy, Himalayan blackberries, knotweed and others, which are “choking out native wildlife,” Perry said.
By removing these invasive species and establishing native species, it will establish healthy ecosystems and benefit the longevity of the green space, Perry said.
There are multiple ways these invasives get into the green spaces in Tukwila.
“A lot of the invasives we see in parks and green open spaces are ones that have maybe been brought in as ornamentals, like English ivy was brought in a long time ago for a lot of people’s gardens and for ground coverage at businesses, and then things happen,” Perry explained. “Maybe birds or animals eat them or eat the berries — fly off, travel — the berries go through their system, come out the other end, get dropped in our open spaces and parks. Some of these invasives were actually planted before we understood what they were or how invasive they truly were. So they could travel by animal, they could travel by wind, they could travel environmentally, they could be planted on purpose and then they just take over and get out of control.”
This year, Perry said volunteers planted 122 native species and added 6-8 inch mulch rings around each plant — this helps plants survive during the dry months in summer.
She said volunteers were also able to remove 6,000 square feet of English ivy.