Before heading across the bluff the students were given a few helpful hints on how to use the weed wrenches. “Watch out for your fingers when clamping onto the root base. Don’t be an animal about it and start ripping and pulling. Warm up, work into it and get a feel for the tool,” advised Craig Holmquist, operations manager for the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Grunting and shouting could be heard all over the park as students pulled and tugged the scotch broom free. Shovels and loppers were brought out to help them position the weed wrenches to the heart of the problem, the roots. Mejia kept track of her conquests, ripping out 30 bushes, but she said her biggest challenge was the tiny ones. “It took me 10 minutes and a shovel just to get one out,” she said.
This was their second day at Ebey’s Landing for 18 high school students from International District Interim WILD program in Seattle and Kulshan Creek Neighborhood Kids program in Mount Vernon. They came out Saturday for the annual Migratory Bird Festival with more than 90 youth and 20 elders and stayed overnight at Camp Casey for the weed-pulling project.
“I would do this again. I learned a lot about migratory birds, Fort Casey and invasive weeds. The best part is meeting new people from Seattle and sharing ghost stories,” said Mejia.
The North Cascades Institute and the Forest Service created the Migratory Bird Festival four years ago to expose urban youth to the outdoors and natural sciences. Multiple agencies help participate in the festival, including the National Parks Service, the City of Mount Vernon, Interim CDA, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.