Friday, March 13, 2015

A Commited Community’s Passion For Fort Worden

A Story of Service 
By: Shannon Phillips
Marine Exhibit AmeriCorps

Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) is nestled into the heart of charming Fort Worden.  Fort Worden State Park is 434-acres of beauty with over two miles of saltwater shoreline and plenty of trails to hike.  You’ll find yourself entering the Fort and passing by the parade grounds as you head downhill, and then a dramatic turn and you’ll be overlooking the Marine Science Center out on the pier along the sandy shoreline from atop the hills. I find myself fortunate to be gazing out upon this view again as I come in for my second term of service. It’s become almost a second home to me and one that I’m very fortunate to have found. 
View of PTMSC at the end of the pier.
As I learned during my last service term, Fort Worden, in all of its beauty, is also currently serving as a home to several noxious weeds and invasive species. These noxious weeds overgrow and outplace many of the park’s native plants. English Ivy climbs atop the beautiful trees, causing limb breakage with all of the extra weight. Meanwhile, each mature Scotch Broom plant is able to drop over 10,000 seeds, which shade out the native vegetation. In addition to learning about the destructive forces, I also learned that many people are just as concerned about them as I am. The community of Port Townsend continuously gathers to work against noxious weeds in many organized weed pulls, including one I helped organized to be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015. I have a feeling these weeds will only call Fort Worden a temporary home.

Introduction Lecture of the Importance of MLK Day, Pulling Noxious Weeds and Working Together
My one-word description of the Port Townsend community is passionate. The community is, as a whole, passionate about a diversity of topics, and all are able to find a home here. It is with this community that the AmeriCorps of PTMSC have established an annual Fort Worden State Park MLK Day Weed Pull. The many residents of Port Townsend, the AmeriCorps, Washington State Parks employees, and members of Friends of Fort Worden , devoted their day off to removing noxious weeds with assistance from Jefferson Land Trust, Native Plant Society, Noxious Weed Board, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The passion and commitment of those that showed up to assist removing Scotch Broom, English Ivy and Poison Hemlock that have a continuous positive impact on the ecosystem.
Some of the 44 volunteers that attended MLK Day Weed Pull 2015

It is with the community of Port Townsend, that I continuously gain the valuable lesson of collective action and the greater impact that it is able to make. This was my second time organizing the MLK Day Weed Pull at Fort Worden as part of my service term, from contacting organizations to advertising to presenting the importance of this event, I was a small piece in making this PTMSC’s Third Annual MLK Day Weed Pull. For the second year in a row, the passion of this community has astounded me with their devotion to ensuring the beauty of Fort Worden.  44 volunteers gathered on January 19, 2015, to honor Martin Luther King Jr. by donating a total of 117 hours to pulling 1420 pounds of Scotch Broom, English Ivy and Poison Hemlock! Ridding Fort Worden of these noxious weeds will allow the native plants to thrive, adding to the beauty of the place I call my second home. Working together, the community of Port Townsend was able to make this MLK Day, “a day on, not a day off.” I am proud to be a part of this community, serve with AmeriCorps at PTMSC and to help rid the noxious weeds from Fort Worden.
Walking back to PTMSC after a successful weed pull

Check out the 3rd Annual MLK Day Video Here:

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