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Planting 1,500 trees not a problem for 75 kids with shovels

Having found what seemed like a good spot for a new tree, Sheryl Johnston, 10, digs in with her shovel to make room for a Douglas sapling. -
Having found what seemed like a good spot for a new tree, Sheryl Johnston, 10, digs in with her shovel to make room for a Douglas sapling.
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MARYSVILLE The air was a little chilly, but the folks on hand didnt hesitate to travel down the narrow, mossy paths in search of yellow tape.
When they spotted the tape, they dove into the thick, wet underbrush, usually carrying a shovel and up to 25 tiny, bundled, Douglas fir trees.
The really cool thing is, when you plant these trees today, you can come back every year and watch them grow, said Michael Kundu, the founder and director of the all-volunteer Project Seawolf Coastal Protection.
Kundu made his comments early the morning of March 31 to a large crowd of young and adult volunteers just before they made their way into the woods of Marysvilles Deering Wildflower Park.
Project Seawolf was behind the effort to plant what could become the dominant form of vegetation in Deering Park. With the help of about 75 students (and nearly as many parent volunteers) from the Marysville School Districts Cooperative Education Program, Project Seawolf volunteers and city recreation workers oversaw the planting of 1,500 fir trees.
Who knew planting trees was so much work, declared Sheryl Johnston, age 10, as she dug into a patch of the parks wet dirt. Sheryl was hard at work along with her classmates and mom Tammie Johnston.
The Cooperative Education program is unique in its degree of parental involvement. Partly because of that involvement, Johnston noted kids have the chance to take field trips just about every month. Still, she said the rugged setting provided by Deering Park was unique.
Theres plenty of these kids who have never seen anything like this, Johnston said.
Sitting in the Sunnyside neighborhood, Deering Park is far more remote and a whole lot less tame than Marysvilles other municipal recreation spots, noted Mike Robinson, park maintenance manager for the city. He and Kundu both said there were specific reasons for planting all those fir trees and for doing so now.
Our desire is to have an evergreen forest, Robinson said, adding the park currently consists of deciduous trees, mostly alders, making up what he termed a first stage tree canopy.
But according to Kundu, the parks forest is in a natural stage of progression. Older trees are starting to die off, making now the perfect time to provide some new trees. As they fall and start to decay, the older trees will help nurse along the younger generation. Further, Robinson said the new trees will serve as a buffer against housing that has sprung up recently near the park.
In 10 years, with these trees, people on the trails wont be able to the houses, he said.
Besides helping the forest along, Robinson saw the tree planting as a chance to gain some publicity for Deering Park.
The park is not that well known and this was an opportunity to work with these kids and introduce them to the park, he said.
Robinson added the city undertakes plenty of projects in its other parks on a regular basis, so he figured it was time to give some attention to Deering.
A member of the Marysville School District Board of Directors, Kundu started Project Seawolf in 1979.
Weve done big campaigns, weve done small campaigns, he said.
The biggest probably was saving an orphaned baby orca lost in Puget Sound a few years ago, a story that gained national attention. But Project Seawolf also has taken on smaller projects, such as promoting lawn signs that announce the property owners intention to use only natural gardening and grass products.
According to Kundu, this is the second tree planting undertaken by Project Seawolf. Last year, the group set its sights on Strawberry Fields and along side a local creek. Kundu hopes to make the efforts annual, with state and federal grant picking up much of the tab for the saplings.

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