The restoration effort on Maury needs to continue | Editorial
March 5, 2013 · Updated 11:53 AM
It’s deeply encouraging to see the restoration work unfolding at the Maury Regional Marine Park, a beautiful expanse of land that bears the scars of years of mining.
For months, a crew of young people — funded by a forward-looking state program — has been at work, pulling Scotch broom, blackberry and other invasive plants. In recent weeks, the fun part has begun — planting the trees and shrubs that will truly heal this 300-acre expanse.
With the introduction of those native plants, a whole cascade of good things begins to happen: carbon, which is heating up the atmosphere, gets absorbed by the growing trees; soil erosion lessens, and rapid run-off ends; birds and small mammals find habitat; insects from trees hanging over the beach fall, feeding foraging fish at high tides.
This is the beauty of a functioning ecosystem: All the parts work together, creating a biofeedback loop that reinforces itself over time.
But this expenditure of public funds is an investment in our future only if we invest the time to ensure the restoration effort succeeds.
Scotch broom seeds persist in the soil for decades. Once those native seedlings get tall enough, they’ll shade out the Scotch broom, and a new ecosystem will take hold. Until then, the noxious broom will pop back up, reclaiming the acres workers have just cleared.
The work was undertaken by the Puget SoundCorps, a newly formed branch of the Washington Conservation Corps. And it appears the corps will have enough funds to continue its work for one more year.
But it will take years of persistence to ensure that this jobs program is more than just that. If we want to see the hard work these young people have invested pay off, if we want to see ecological health return to the eastern slopes of Maury Island, we’ll have to continue working there for years to come.
Volunteer work parties will be needed. The friends group that has formed to oversee the regional park will need to remain engaged. And state funds will still need to be brought to bear: It’s unlikely volunteer efforts alone can shoulder this project.
Aldo Leopold, who powerfully articulated the need for a conservation ethic decades ago with the publication of “The Sand County Almanac,” noted that we “abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.”
“When we see land as a community to which we belong,” he added, “we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
That undulating expanse — a former gravel mine turned county park — is as much our community as the Village Green, as the town core, as the playgrounds and schools and gathering places that we associate with human life. Its health is tied to the health of Puget Sound, which in turn supports a regional health critical to our future.
So let’s celebrate the restoration that is taking place there. And let’s make sure it continues.