FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
City Completes Gee Creek Enhancement Efforts through Department of Ecology Grant
Press Contact Information:
Steven Wall, Public Works Director
Ridgefield, WA, November 15, 2010 – The City of Ridgefield recently completed non-native plant species removal and stream bank stabilization along Gee Creek through the planting of 150 native trees with funds received in 2009 through the Terry Husseman Account Grant administered by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The $10,818 grant enabled the City to continue its multi-year effort to eradicate invasive, non-native plants from the areas bordering on Gee Creek. Himalayan blackberry and English ivy were cleared from areas along the creek and Japanese knotweed was injected with herbicide. Native plants, including western red cedar and red osier dogwood were planted by volunteers in streamside areas following the invasive plant removal. This was another great step in an ongoing effort to improve Gee Creek, its wildlife habitat and public access.
The success of this project was in part thanks to the efforts of an AmeriCorps team hired with grant monies through the Northwest Service Academy. The City previously used AmeriCorps teams in its enhancement efforts along Gee Creek, including efforts in 2006 that were funded through a grant provided by National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and returned to the Northwest Service Academy once again for assistance through the AmeriCorps program because of the great success in past efforts.
Assistance from a core group of volunteers also made this project a success. Volunteers prepared areas along the creek and marked large stands of knotweed for injection of herbicide by the AmeriCorps teams. Volunteers were also responsible for the planting of the 150 native trees to help stabilize the banks of Gee Creek in areas that were cleared of blackberry, ivy and knotweed. Steve Wall, Public Works Director for the City stated “The City is very grateful, once again, for all of the community support on projects such as this. Volunteers made this project a success. I would specifically like to thank volunteers Paul Snoey, Lynn Cornelius, Tevis Laspa and Gary Bock for their efforts in supporting this project and their continued efforts in the enhancement of the Gee Creek Watershed”.
Tree Planting volunteers James Barhitte, Mayor Ron Onslow, Lynn Cornelius, Council Member Don Stose, Jim Walker, and Jill Peoples
Japanese Knotweed was first observed in the Gee Creek System in the vicinity of the upper end of Abrams Park. Japanese knotweed is a highly aggressive invasive species. The plant commonly grows to a height of 7 feet or higher in a single season. The plant spreads through seed, roots and pieces of the plant. To mow it merely prepares hundreds of small pieces to facilitate its further spread. While the plant often develops an extensive root system, the roots are fragile and do not significantly contribute to stream bank stability.
Northwest Service Academy
Northwest Service Academy is an environmental service and leadership development organization that partners with more than 130 community-based organizations, government agencies and schools to address significant environmental issues in communities across Oregon and Washington. Northwest Service Academy’s more than 200 part & full-time AmeriCorps members, with help from countless community volunteers, are able to accomplish a wide variety of projects including restoring watersheds, building trails, teaching environmental education, coordinating volunteer programs and much more.
AmeriCorps, often described as the "domestic Peace Corps," is a national community service program that was established by Congress, with bi-partisan support, in 1993. AmeriCorps provides thousands of Americans of all ages and backgrounds with education awards in exchange for a year or two of community service.
More than 1,000,000 people have served in AmeriCorps since its inception. AmeriCorps Members are "Getting Things Done," through service in five target areas: Public Safety, Education, Human Needs, Homeland Security and Environment. Across the nation, AmeriCorps members serve daily to revitalize America, one person, one classroom, one community at a time.
AmeriCorps members receive an education award that can be used to help cover the costs of education or to pay back qualified student loans. Full-time members may also receive a living allowance, medical insurance, loan forbearance and/or child-care. Beyond these benefits, members also have the opportunity to gain new skills, take on new responsibilities, make new contacts and know the satisfaction of Getting Things Done.
Terry Husseman Account Grant
Under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 90.48.390, the Washington State Legislature created the Coastal Protection Fund to serve as a non-appropriated revolving fund for restoration of natural resources. Within the Department of Ecology the account is divided into the Oil Spills sub-account and the Water Quality sub-account. The latter sub-account is referred to as the "Terry Husseman Account" and is where water quality penalties assessed under Chapter 90.48 RCW are deposited. These funds are equally distributed to the four regional offices. The respective Regional Water Management Teams are responsible for approving the distribution of these funds in the form of grants, subject to the limitations and basic eligibility requirements.
The City of Ridgefield, incorporated in 1909, is a rapidly growing community located in northern Clark County, Washington approximately 10 miles north of Vancouver, Washington. Over the next 20 years, the City of Ridgefield expects to grow to a population of over 26,000 persons with an employment base of over 13,000 jobs. The City has adopted the council-manager form of government. The City Manager acts as the chief executive officer of the City overseeing daily operations, annual budget development and implementation, and personnel. The City Manager works with a management team composed of the Director of Finance and Administration/City Clerk, the Public Works Director and the Police Chief to insure that community services are provided and that the policy directives of the City Council are carried out in the most efficient manner possible.