Turning weeds into natural beauty

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Max Herzog with his Eagle project.
Photo by Kurt Herzog.
Eagle Scout candidate Max Herzog of Shoreline Troop 853 recently completed a project in Shoreline to return a large plot of land overgrown with weeds and invasive plants back into the Northwest natural environment.

The project was completed at Richmond Beach Congregational Church United Church of Christ at 1512 Northwest 195th St, Shoreline, WA 98177. Several years ago, the church removed several trees at the request of neighbors. Since then the land had turned into a strip of weeds and invasive plant species.

In keeping with the church's mission as a steward of the natural environment, the church board wanted the land restored to its native state. Along came Max Herzog, 15, a church youth group member and a boy scout with Troop 853 in Shoreline. Max took the project on as his Eagle Scout Project.

Max started last January by taking measurements and a survey of the 3,000-square-foot site. Then Max researched what native plants might be right for the site. He also was guided by church members who were experts on native plants, Sarah Baker, director of nearby Kruckeberg Gardens and Don Norman, a local expert who owns Go Natives!, a nearby native plant nursery.

Troop 853 working the site. Photo by Kurt Herzog.
Max learned that the most environmentally friendly way to remove invasive species is the "cardboard method." This involves covering weeds with sheets of cardboard and then covering the cardboard with bark mulch or wood chips. This was important to the church because they had already worked to be designated an official Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Program through the state. This designation requires the church to agree to use only the most environmentally friendly methods of stewardship.

Obtaining that much cardboard meant six months of Max and his dad scouring appliance stores for cardboard boxes and stockpiling 3,000 square feet of the stuff. They also carted several pickup truck loads of free woodchips from Hamlin Park. Several tree removal companies that were solicited to donate wood chips also came through.

By the project date on June 18, Max had enough materials to blanket the site.

In the meantime he had also created a 3-D model and video of the site using Google Sketchup, a free imaging program. Max presented the video, model and budget to the church board last May.

With the church's help and member donations, he was able to obtain about 75 native plants to install on the site. He made sure to leave native species already on the site such as salal, Oregon grape and red-twig dogwood. Other species he planted include: Ocean spray, Nootka Rose, Mock Orange, Tall Oregon Grape, Serviceberry, Red Stem Ceanothus, Red flowering currant, Subalpine Spiria, Snowberry, Thimbleberry, Evergreen Huckleberry, Salmonberry, Sword Fern, lace fern, Kinnikinnik (Bearberry), Sea Pink (Thrift), Beach Strawberry.

All plants are labeled to be used as a method to educate other Troop 853 scouts about native plants, a requirement for scouts to obtain their second class scout badge.

On the big project day the scouts of Troop 853 planted the native plants and then carefully laid cardboard around the plants and then covered that with the woodchips. By the end of the day 22 scouts, adults and church members had worked a combined total of 112 hours on the project.

Since then, Max -- and other church members -- have been watering the site until the plants are well-established. Max says, "Feel free to come by and check it out."

--Scoutmaster, Troop 853


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