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My Experience in Volunteer Service at Green Seattle Partnership

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Environment is the most essential foundation for our lives. Environment and human always have a strong relationship and influence each other all the time. I believe individuals should learn something about environment and try to do something for our living foundation. Therefore, I took this course, and went to do a volunteer service at Green Seattle Partnership. And I did learn useful thing there.

According to its website, the organization, Green Seattle Partnership is an organization found by the City of Seattle, Forterra, community groups and non-profits, businesses, schools, and thousands of volunteers. This organization is striving for restoration and maintenance of the forested parklands of Seattle (1). What we did last time as volunteers was to help local residents to maintain the forest around their living environment. The maintenance includes removing bindweed from trees which would be stunned or even killed by it, eliminating invasive plants which is pervasive, and paving wood chips on ground to prevent the regrowth of invasive species.

First of all, we cut bindweed convoluted on trees. Bindweed is a climbing vine. Normally, the most obvious signal to determine bindweed is that its thin thread-like vines which wrap and twin tightly on plants or other upward objects. (1) Therefore, after warped by bindweed, plants cannot grow naturally cause when plants grow bigger and thicker, they will be wrapped tighter. Plants cannot get enough nutrition and or even killed by bindweed. Therefore, we should control and eliminate bindweed as much as possible. But one reason that it is so hard to get rid of bindweed is that it has a large and hardy root system. Single attempts to remove bindweed roots are impossible to totally eliminate the bindweed. (2). Therefore, what we did that time was simply cut off the bindweed wrapped on plants to alleviate the negative influence on plants. By cutting and elicit a string of bindweed, plants are free to grow until the bindweed grow from its root again.

Second thing we did was to combat with an invasive species: buttercup. Invasive species points to introduced species to a new environment and then establish and spread out. The appearance of buttercup is not that special so I spent some time to memorize and be able to recognize it: Buttercup is a kind of herbaceous perennial species which tend to creep along the ground. It does not have flower and it arches and creeps from roots. (3) As we know, the most important reason for invasive species to spread pretty quick is the lack of natural enemy in a new environment. And this is the case for buttercup. Buttercup has no enemy in Seattle and it proliferate and spread everywhere in the forest. The negative impact of buttercup is obvious: buttercup will compete and use resources for other plants which means it will deprive the chance for the growth of other species, especially in its favorable condition: wet soils. One buttercup can extend over an area around forty square feet within one year. This creeping buttercup also absorbs plenty of and use up potassium in the soil and thus deteriorates the environment of surrounding plants. (4) The way we did to deal with buttercup is straightforward: just to dig out its root. Because its root is not just covered shallowly, we used hammer to dig into ground and up wrapped it out. If we simply used hands to pull it, it’s very likely to just pull-apart its leaves but remain some of its root inside ground and give its chance to regrow.

Furthermore, we have to be very careful about digging out its root since incomplete digging may increase the buttercup population because it can sprout from nodes along stem and root fragments. After digging out roots of buttercup, we covered burlaps on the ground which is used to prevent the regrow of buttercup. Then, we pour wood chips evenly on top of burlaps. Finally, burlaps isolate sunshine which is a key factor for regrowth of buttercup, and wood chips enable new, native species to grow on it.

After we finished all work, we needed to make sure to take away every personal staff in forest. According to official statistics, human made pollution has caused serious environmental issues. We brought bottles of water, which plastic bottles, if left in forest, can be a serious source of pollution to both soil and animals. As we know, plastic is impossible to be dissolved naturally. So we had to make sure to take away every item and trash from the forest.

From this experience, I learned the negative impact of invasive species, methods to control or eliminate invasive species and importance to maintain our environment. I think as a university student, it is good and meaningful to make contribution to our environment. So I am looking forward to take part in more similar activities in the future!

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