ARYSVILLE — The citizens of Marysville made a “Clean Sweep” of the weekend prior to this year’s Earth Day with volunteers literally taking to the streets, as well as the neighborhoods and the parks, to help beautify the community on Saturday, April 20.
While Youth Peace Park received a paint job on its climbing wall and Hickok Park got the same for its table and bench, landscaped areas along assorted sidewalks were weeded and received freshly planted flowers, including the areas around the Marysville City Hall where the Community Shred-A-Thon started at 9 a.m., filling up trucks with tax paperwork and other sensitive personal and financial documents to be shredded.
Graffiti eradication units likewise met up at Cedarcrest Middle School at 9 a.m. to spread out throughout the community, joining trash pickup crews at the Marysville Library and the intersection of Interstate 5 and Fourth Street, while other litter details headed out to Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Totem Middle School and Smokey Point Boulevard between 106th to 116th streets, the latter of which also saw trees planted along the sides of the street.
Perhaps one of the more popular activities of the day, at least in terms of the diversity of its attendees, was the planting of native trees and shrubs at the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project site by Harborview Park, which drew young people from as far away as Mill Creek, such as Girl Scouts Seoyun Chon and Siena Mandy, and Snohomish, such as high school students Nathan Stockwell and Brandon Dennis.
At the age of 16, this year marked the fourth “Clean Sweep” for Alex Stribling, but her first planting trees and shrubs at the Qwuloolt Estuary.
“I just like to help out,” said Alex, whose 13-year-old brother Nick was shoveling mulch while she applied mulch around a freshly planted sapling. “I’d done the graffiti paint-out a couple of times, and picked up trash too. I like to see the community benefit from the things we do. If you can help out, you should. Plus, it’s a great way to get together with your family and meet new people.”
Marysville’s Bennett Nier, 8, looked on in rapt fascination as Walt Rung, an ecologist with the Adopt A Stream Foundation, explained how placing protective sleeves around the bases of young trees not only prevents rodents from eating them or weeds from crowding them out, but also serves as a mini-greenhouse.
“This is actually the second wave of planting in this area,” Rung said. “The first one was by Sound Salmon Solutions, but a number of those plants died, at least a few from being choked out by reed canary grass. Once these trees grow tall enough, they’ll shade out the reed canary grass, but in the meantime, the reed canary grass always runs the risk of shading them out.”
“It’s nice that everybody came come out to do this, even if it is just for one day,” said Bennett’s dad, Chad Nier. “When you come out to clean up your neighborhoods and plant some trees, you get to meet more of your neighbors, and who knows, maybe you’ll decide to do it again the next week.”
Erin Martin of the Washington Conservation Corps estimated that approximately 100 volunteers planted about 300 native trees and shrubs at the Qwuloolt Estuary, which she deemed important not only for the ecosystem, but also to foster environmental mindsets among future generations.
“We have to teach the young people, because they’re the ones who will keep this going,” Martin said. “I’ve overheard these kids using the proper plant names while they were working, which means they’re learning.”