SEDRO-WOOLLEY — Once overrun with thickets of invasive Himalayan blackberries, a 7-acre piece of city-owned land is on its way to becoming a new forest and recreation area.

On Saturday, about 50 volunteers planted 500 native trees and shrubs, poured wood chips to make a trail, and installed interpretive signs at the new section of Riverfront Park, which is next to the Bark Park dog park.

The project is a partnership between the city of Sedro-Woolley and the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group.

“We want people in Sedro-Woolley to use this park,” said Kelsey Taylor, riparian restoration coordinator for the fisheries group. “Before, it was inaccessible.”

She said volunteers also helped lay the groundwork for a future forest, which will help ensure water is cold and clean for salmon. The area is next to an unnamed creek that connects to the Skagit River.

She said the forest also acts as a sponge and helps mitigate floods.

Grants from the state Department of Ecology and Rose Foundation are funding the project. Taylor said the city of Sedro-Woolley donated the wood chips for the trail and helps maintain the area.

Sedro-Woolley City Councilman Karl de Jong, who volunteered at the event, said he requested money in the city’s 2020 budget to connect the area with a trail system at Riverfront Park.

“We’re creating more access to our natural beauty, more space for family-friendly activities, and the interpretive signs will help educate about our connection to the Skagit River and quality of life,” de Jong said.

Sedro-Woolley resident Megan Chatt heard about the event online and decided to volunteer with her three kids.

“We thought it would be neat for the kids to contribute to the community and see something they planted,” she said.

There will be a second volunteer work party at Riverfront Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday, Nov. 2.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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