Ecological restoration is important because invasive species will slowly take over our forests dramatically changing their character, reducing habitat for wildlife, and diminishing biological diversity. In short the soaring evergreen forests so iconic to the Pacific Northwest will slowly convert to shrub and vine dominated that have come to dominate slopes along Intertstate 5.
Restoring native forests is no easy task. In 2018 it took 402 volunteer hours to initiate restoration on 1 acre, or about 10% of the park. Restoration at Paramount occurs in three steps outlined below.
During this phase the majority of invasive plants are removed. It is critical to remove as much of the root stock as possible since many invasive species aggressively resprout from remaining material. Manual labor is used for initial removal and we heavily depend on volunteers during monthly work parties to accomplish much of this work. The two most pervasive species at Paramount are English ivy and Himalayan blackberry. Other common invasive species include sycamore maple, English laurel, and English holly.
This phase can occur in several ways. The most rewarding, of course, is planting, because their is an immediate visual impact. Spreading seed should be considered as an alternative because planting is expensive, time consuming, and mortality rates can be high. Seeding can be a cheaper and more effective approach as long as species are adapted to site conditions. The easiest way to establish new plants is to let existing plants re-seed. All three techniques have been used at Paramount.
Often the most time consuming part of restoration. Frequent site visits are needed to keep invasive species in check. Not only will plants that were initially removed resprout, but other invasive species will try and fill the void left by initial removal. At Paramount creeping buttercup and bindweed are the two biggest culprits. Left unattended weedy invasive species can recolonize areas that were cleared within a few months quickly undoing the hard work accomplished by volunteers.