An energetic force of 60 volunteers, young and old, invaded Clark Lake Park on a clear mission under cloudy skies last Saturday morning.
The task? To remove invasive growth, namely blackberries, plant native oak trees and spread mulch – all part of the 15th annual “ReLeaf” event at the 30-acre undeveloped park that features a fishing pier, hiking trails, wetlands, fields and forested areas.
Desireé Kennedy smiled as the effort, a designated Green Kent Day event, unfolded under her careful watch.
“There’s always blackberries to be taken out,” said Kennedy, volunteer coordinator with Kent’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. “We have lots of opportunities, usually every weekend.”
Led by a base of 30 Green Kent stewards, the volunteer work party is a regular show. The Green Kent Partnership is a collaboration among the city of Kent, partners, community groups and nonprofits, businesses, schools and hundreds of individual volunteers working together to actively maintain the city’s natural areas.
“Volunteering is a great way to give back and to earn community service hours,” Kennedy said. “It’s a fun way to get outside, socialize, meet new people, and help maintain some of our most used parks. … It’s very rewarding.”
Last Saturday, the primary muscle came from high school students, many belonging to the Key Club or National Honor Society, and residents who spent the morning pulling brush, clearing the wet ground to plant oak trees and adding fresh mulch. Mayor Suzette Cooke and City Council members Brenda Fincher and Dana Ralph joined the party.
Oak trees that were planted came from the city’s Public Works Nursery, which propagates about 22,000 plants a year to put back into its parks.
“Trees, shrubs, anything you can imagine, as long as it is native,” Kennedy added.
The city of Kent welcomes volunteers of all ages and abilities to help in the restoration projects.
All events are Saturday mornings, 9 until noon, rain or shine. Tools and staff supervision are provided. Register to volunteer by noon three days before each event at KentWA.gov/ComeVolunteer.
For more information, contact Kennedy at 253-856-5114.
Other volunteer opportunities include:
• Oct. 15 – Green Kent Planting Party, Lake Fenwick Park, 25828 Lake Fenwick Road
• Oct. 16 – Planting the Park Work Party, Park Orchard Park, 11058 SE 230th St.
• Oct. 22 – 5th Annual Green Kent Day, Morrill Meadows Park, 10600 SE 248th St.