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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Live Stakes

Saturday I returned to a project area I talked about last Spring.  We had spent a fine Spring morning burlapping to supress Reed Canary grass.

Now is the time to get native plants placed in this area.  Fast growing plants to fill in this open side channel will help to further choke down the Reed Canary grass.  The cold, crisp weather continues and I ventured a look at the Mesonet weather report for the area.  Seventeen degrees Fahrenheit with no wind (thank goodness).  This is a terrific site and for planning a day out it cannot be beat.  Temperature Wind High/Low rainfall all in one handy place.


Didn't need the Mesonet to tell me what my car window could.  Armed with a nice cup of coffee in my thermos mug I drove down to Yelm, enjoying a lovely clear blue sunrise.  I was early, as usual and wandered around the meeting area.

You know it is DARN cold out when a glacier fed river is warmer than the surrounding area and sending up wisps of warmer vapors.

The ground is covered in Big-leaf Maple leaves and samaras.

This one is a science experiment in the making as the seed is down in a hole in this post.  The surrounding moss guarantees that it will stay insulated and moist.  I wonder if it will sprout?

Today's group included 20 gentlemen from McChord AFB.  Young troops and their leaders, these helpers from the base are always eager to work and work hard.  One was from El Paso Texas and had never experienced woodlands like we have here.

The backwater area still has burlap in place and the grasses were tamed down.  The beavers who contributed to some of this side-channels construction appear to have moved out of the area in the last season.  They left behind an empoundment deeper in the woods that made out usual woodland trail no longer available.  We hiked about 1/2 mile along a service road to access the property area.

Today we are driving live stakes of three native Salix willow species; Pacific Sitka and Scoulers. These stakes were cut from growing plants.  The beveled end is plunged into the ground half the length of the stick, which was about 2 feet long.  Nodes that make contact with the moist soil will sprout roots, above ground the nodes will send out branches.

The ground is soft here and there are hardly any stones.  A drive bar starts a hole and you simply plunge it in.  A few good whacks with the mallet and the live stake is planted.  Charlie and I placed the stakes on the steep portions of the creek bank.

Charlies neoprene hip-waders made this pretty comfortable duty.

Others working in teams of 4 or 5 placed the willows along the top of meandering bank.  There are hidden pitfalls in this area thanks to the handy work of the beavers and the coverage of the Reed Canary grass.  Occasional jeering and hoots were heard from the troops when someone came afoul of a slippery place.  Happy to say there was only one soggy leg and I believe it was that of an officer which no doubt delighted the younger airmen.

The live stakes were driven then protected with the usual tubes and wooden stakes.  This keeps rodents from chewing and enjoying.  A further application of latex paint mixed with sand followed. This can be a good beaver deterrent.

It took about 2 hours to plant over 450 stakes.  What a treat to have such a good turn out of help on such a cold day.  No one really felt the cold, the sun and activity once again made this a pleasure.

Added bonus is that it is a pretty peaceful place.  It is going to be fun to watch this area quickly transform into a more complete habitat.  Willows grow fast and they are wonderful habitat for many of our native songbirds like warblers and flycatchers.  We will be returning in a few months to place transition plants like Salmonberry and roses as well as some tree species.

Within a few years this place is going to be totally transformed.

Back in my car, the thermos mug did its job and my morning coffee is still warm.  Isn't technology grand.


  1. This is really a great post. You always have a great deal of fun on these outings, Marti. That certainly is obvious and I'm a bit jealous.

  2. Thanks for the visit, Marti. Not much opportunity to get out these days with the rotten weather.

  3. Thanks once again, Marti. Not much winter so far, but more rain than we needed or wanted. Wonder how the mild temps and excess rain will affect the wildflwoers.