On October 24th, Foster Creek Conservation District celebrated Make a Difference Day by hosting a native species planting to support wildlife habitat, water quality, and post-fire recovery along West Foster Creek near Bridgeport. Despite a winter storm, cold, and windy conditions, the event received a stellar turnout of people travelling from as far as Spokane, Richland, and Enumclaw. A total of 35 people attended, including community members, staff from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and members of organizations such as Washington Native Plant Society, the Ruffed Grouse Society, and the Audubon Society. A total of 2,300 trees and shrubs were planted on private land; volunteers planted approximately 1,600 plants at the event and the remaining 700 were planted by FCCD and WDFW.
As a result of the September Pearl Hill Fire, nearly all the vegetation was burned in the Dyer Hill area, an ecological hotspot for the “State Endangered” Columbian sharp-tailed grouse. This burn decreased water quality, increased erosion and potential noxious weed problems, and resulted in a massive loss of habitat for sharp-tailed grouse and other wildlife. We selected tree and shrub species known to provide good habitat and stable food sources for sharp-tailed grouse. Here’s a bonus: as the plants and roots grow, they will control soil erosion and improve water quality in West Foster Creek and the Columbia River. That’s also good for salmon.
We at Foster Creek Conservation District are grateful to everyone who came out to help put plants in the ground! We would also like to thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for project support, and Aspect Consulting and the North Central Washington Community Foundation for allowing us to purchase supplies, hot food, and beverages. And finally, a thank you to the landowner and operator who invited us onto their property and are active partners in restoration. This project will provide important habitat for wildlife for many decades to come.
We thank the Washington State Department of Ecology for supporting this article.