By Ann McCreary
A mob with a mission gathered on a chilly morning last Saturday (Nov. 8) in the park by the Barn in Winthrop.
About 100 volunteers answered a call from the Methow Conservancy to head to fire-scarred areas around the valley to scatter native grass seeds to help heal the wounds left in the wake of summer wildfires.
The seed-spreaders gathered in several groups to travel to burned areas including Rising Eagle Road, Pipestone Canyon, Stokes Road and Texas Creek, focusing primarily on areas where the soil had been disturbed by bulldozers setting fire lines and utility crews replacing burned power poles.
“In areas of disturbance, the seeds are to provide competition for non-native plants,” said Rob Crandall, owner of Methow Natives, who helped advise the Conservancy on the project.
“The work we’re doing will be really beneficial to the landscape,” Crandall said.
About a dozen people headed to Texas Creek with Conservancy Director Jason Paulsen, where they concentrated on spreading seeds in a burned riparian area and along fire lines that traverse the hillsides above Texas Creek Road on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife land.
“We had people wanting to know how they could help,” Paulsen said. “In the early days [after the fires] there wasn’t a lot to do. We wanted to give people a hands-on role in the recovery process. There’s no substitute for manpower.”
The job looked overwhelming at first, with blackened soil and charred vegetation along Texas Creek, and exposed dirt where bulldozers dug fire lines extending into the distance. After a couple of hours, however, much of the riparian area had been seeded and raked, and volunteers had climbed nearby hillsides to seed and rake long stretches of the fire lines.
“It’s a good community project,” said Jackie Luke of Mazama. “It could be us next time.”
“We all came here because we wanted to be a mob,” said Kay Morgan of Gold Creek. “I wanted to do something for the land and wildlife. I have a special protectiveness for the lower valley.”