Dana Schuerholz and Sarah Wright have been named conservation landowners of the year by the King Conservation District for restoration work they undertook last year on their seven-acre farm on the west side of Vashon.
The two women moved to the property in 2010 and began working to “day light” a small, year-round stream that ran along one edge of their property a year later.
The project — which entailed removing thick walls of blackberries and other invasive plants — quickly became one involving children who attended the Homestead School, an alternative learning program the two women ran at the time, Schuerholz said. (Wright is no longer involved in the school.)
During the course of their work, Wright learned about King Conservation District’s cost-sharing program for private landowners from a King County staffer and applied for a grant. By the fall of 2011, with grant funds in hand, Schuerholz and Wright ordered 200 bare root native plants from the conservation district and expanded the restoration effort.
All told, the project cost about $8,000, with Schuerholz and Wright kicking in 10 percent of the costs. What’s more, the agency lent significant on-the-ground support — a team of workers from the Washington Conservation Corps came to Vashon and worked side-by-side with the kids and adults.
The financial and physical support jump-started the project, Schuerholz said, “turning our 20-plus year project into a five-year project.”
The King Conservation District has been around more than 60 years, created — with hundreds of other conservation districts across the country — in response to the short-sighted land-management practices that led to the devastating Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Today, it provides grants for conservation-focused projects and programs and initiates community outreach activities that include workshops, education programs, site visits, farm plans and consultation on land, water and wildlife management.