The native plant nursery helps us better achieve our goal of restoration while creating more volunteer and learning opportunities through grant funding like Aquatic Land Enhancement Account (ALEA) grant. We grow native trees, shrubs, and even flowers at the nursery. As a salmon enhancement group, we mainly care for riparian plants that will be used along streams and creeks. Yet, ever so often we care for near shore species that will be planted out on the estuary. Having our own nursery not only allows us to donate native plants but gives our community a chance to be directly involved in growing life.
Importance of Natives
Restoration projects are done to help restore an area that no longer provides sufficient habitat for the organisms living there. Habitat loss can result from an unnatural introduction or removal of a plant, structure, or animal. For example, a new plant may outcompete a native plant which then destabilizes the banks. The eroding banks create turbid water that fish cannot live in, which may lead to death or will prevent migration later in life. As a result the bald eagle population declines because they have lost an important food source. This does not happen every time but gives a real example of the domino effect that happens in a natural habitat. Native species depend on each other to survive and function. That’s why here at SFEG, we raise and plant native species.
Native plants are an essential aspect to creating a healthy ecosystem and helps SFEG achieve best management practices. Plants provide native insects, mammals, birds, and fish with food, shelter, and protection. Whether it is bees collecting pollen from native shrubs or Western hemlock shading the creeks for salmon, native plants create a safe and functional home for animals. Another benefit to using native plants rather than nonnatives ornamentals, is because local plants have already adapted to survive in the specific area’s soil, temperature, weather, and other affecting forces. This results in less maintenance and better survival for these plants, thus creating a successful riparian restoration project.
The nursery resides within the Samish watershed along Thomas creek tributary to the Samish River. Many days in the nursery can be spent seeing a diversity of birds including Dark-eye Junco, Bald Eagle, Red-tail Hawk, Chickadees, Golden-crowned Kinglet, wrens, Killdeer, Barn Owl, and much more. We also have Townsend voles, coyotes, and the aloof nursery cat, Malachi.
One of our fun facts about the nursery is that it is a part of real life love story. The land that the nursery sits on was originally owned by woman named Josephine. Josephine fell in love with a member of the Samish Tribe. When she passed away, as a token of her affection, she donated her land to the Samish tribe. SFEG leases the nursery from the Samish Tribes and together we have created a partnership to care for and maintain native riparian plants.
For more information on native plants found in our nursery: Native Plant Guide [under construction]
For more information on volunteer opportunities in the nursery: Volunteer and Internship Opportunities