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How do you choose the plants that you have put in?

The whole Burke Gilman Trail has been broken into segments by Seattle Parks with descriptors of the current status of vegetation. It also has a suggested native plant list that we use to develop our planting plan.  We usually start with trees and shrubs and as the area matures begin to add flowers and other ground covers.

What are the piles of vegetation along the trail where you have cleared?

We are composting on site!  The blackberry canes and other invasive materials are piled up on a platform and then allowed to compost.  As soon as the area is stabilized and the material in the piles has dried and begun to rot, we can break the piles down and allow them to rot back into soil.   Usually the piles are down to about a third of the original size after the first year and a third again the next year. This saves Seattle Parks alot of money and time and we will ultimately get good soil from the rotted material.

Why do you have to take out all of our blackberries?

The Himalayan Blackberry is a highly invasive plant and you will see it all over Washington.  It grows faster than native plants and soon overwhelms them.  You can find out more about it at the King County Noxious Weed Board.  Another concern is that the Burke-Gilman Trail used to be a railroad track and the steam trains that used it until the late 1940's burned coal for fuel.  Burning coal releases lead, cadmium and mercury, all toxic materials.  The toxins are in the soil along the track.  We do not know if they are in the plants or the berries.  There is no shortage of blackberries in Seattle and we think it is safer to pick our own blackberries elsewhere to protect our families.

Where and how do you get the native plants that you put in?

Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail at Sand Point is a non-profit organization.  All of the plants that we purchase are from money that has been donated by neighbors, friends and stewards or has been developed by writing grants.  Most of our plants come from Four Corners Nursery or from Storm Lake Nursery, both of which specialize in native plants.  Both nurseries are growing rapidly as people begin to see the advantages, beauty and ultimate cost saving of using native plants.

We have seen people topping trees and dumping garbage along the Burke Gilman Trail, why are they allowed to do this?

Actually they are not!  The Burke-Gilman Trail is a Seattle City Park and public property.  If someone is caught cutting or topping trees they are subject to a $5000 fine and possible jail time.  Dumping garbage in the park or anywhere in the city gets a $1500 fine.  It is often easy to cut trees or dump in an area that looks unkept as when the area is covered with blackberries, but it is still public property and a park.  If you see activities such as these going on, Call 9-1-1 and report it.  Get pictures, license numbers.      You can also help by treating the trail as part of your neighborhood and pick up trash and bottles.  There are usually garbage cans at reasonable distances along the trail. 

Who does all of the work clearing the Trail?

So far about two miles of the Burke-Gilman Trail have been cleared from NE 35th St to NE 77th St.  All of this work has been done by volunteers who often are neighbors as well as others from all over the city who are interested, care about the trail and who want to do something for the environment as well as their neighborhood.  This same work is going on in parks all over the city.   If you would like to join us, we have work parties usually three times a week and a work party on 2nd Saturdays of the Month.  You can find and sign up for them at:  http://seattle.cedar.greencitypartnerships.org/event/map