Volunteers prepare Hamlin Park Forest Restoration Site for planting season

Friday, October 13, 2023

Mulching Hamlin Park
Photo by Oliver Moffat
By Oliver Moffat, Park Volunteer

Community volunteers have been busy at Hamlin Park preparing the forest restoration site for planting season. 

Stewards and volunteers from the community have been digging out noxious weeds and restoring the health of the soil by spreading mulch on over a quarter acre. 

The Hamlin Park stewardship team has ordered 25 different species of native plants and a total of 341 plants to begin planting in December. 

Habit restoration sites across Shoreline will be celebrating Green Shoreline Day on December 2, 2023 by hosting work parties.

The Hamlin Park forest restoration site is within a fifteen minute walk of the North City neighborhood urban heat island that is rapidly developing with new apartment buildings. 

As summers continue to get hotter, it is becoming increasingly important for people in the future to have access to cool and shady spaces where they can recreate. The future forest will provide a cool, shady space for people who live in neighborhood apartment buildings.

So far this year, volunteers have rooted out over a quarter acre of noxious weeds (primarily invasive blackberry, holly, laurel and cherry) at the Hamlin Park forest restoration site. 

Noxious weeds harm native plants and wildlife, can be difficult to eradicate and prevent native trees from growing into healthy forests. 

To remove noxious weeds, volunteers dig out the roots of the weeds with shovels and haul the live roots out of the restoration site so they will not regrow.

Hamlin Park is a refuge from Heat Islands
Photo by Hitomi Dames

Despite the hard work, noxious weed seeds and rhizomes are inevitably left in the soil and will sprout again, which will require ongoing weeding by hand for years to come. As the native trees grow into a tall and shady forest, the noxious weeds will gradually be replaced by native plants.

After digging out the weed roots, volunteers cover the disturbed ground in a thick layer of wood chip mulch to restore the health of the soil. The goal is to cover the ground with six to twelve inches of woody mulch before planting season begins. 

So far this year, volunteers have laid down more than 100 cubic yards of wood chip mulch and are working to spread at least another 100 cubic yards to reach the goal. 

Mulch holds water during dry summers to help young trees survive droughts and support the fungi, flora and fauna that establish symbiotic relationships with forest plants.

There are five zones within the restoration site with differing microclimates that are being prepared for planting. 

Two zones were cleared and planted in previous years and have trees and tall shrubs that are shady enough to support new ground cover plants such as sword fern, woodland strawberry, and trailing blackberry. 

One zone in full shade, one in partial shade and one in full sun that were cleared this year of noxious weeds will be planted primarily with trees such as Douglas fir, western red cedar, and bigleaf maple.

Courtesy City of Shoreline

The current forest restoration site includes the eight acres on the north end of Hamlin park bounded by 165th street to the south, 168th street to the north and 16th and 18th avenues to the east and west. This was the original Hamlin park that was donated to King county in 1939 and developed into ballfields by the Works Project Administration (WPA). The site was used as ball fields until the early 2000s. 

The remainder of Hamlin Park was donated to the county when the Navy hospital was decommissioned after the Second World War.

The restoration project is managed by the Green Shoreline Partnership, a collaborative effort between the City of Shoreline, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the Shoreline community at large. 

Stewards are trained by the Washington Native Plant Society in forest restoration practices and organize regular work parties.

The Hamlin Park stewardship team has work parties scheduled most Wednesday afternoons at 1pm and Saturday mornings at 10am. 

The community is welcome to learn more and sign up to volunteer by visiting the Green Shoreline Partnership website. Students can earn community service hours while learning urban forestry skills and having fun outdoors.


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