Kitsap Conservation District partners with landowner to restore Carpenter Creek wetland

Landowner Keith Beebe lives off of Barber Cutoff Road in Kingston and recently initiated a restoration plan for the Kitsap Conservation District along the Carpenter Creek wetland.

Some 18 volunteers showed up on Oct. 4 to begin the lengthy process of removing Himalayan blackberries and other invasive weeds on the property, under the supervision of the conservation district.

“Restoration often works best if you do it over a number of years,” Kitsap Conservation District Resource Planner Jesse Adams said. “Before we do planting here, it’s best to get the weeds that are competing with them taken away. We’re just starting the process.”

Smayda Environmental Associates, Inc. was hired to prepare methods to restore the stream and wetland habitats at the site, improving water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, according to the draft plan. The goal is to help the area recover from its agricultural past, improve stream and wetland functioning, reduce weeds, and increase the abundance and diversity of native plants and animals.

“These guys have been amazingly helpful for this project,” Beebe said. “They have grant money available to fix up the property; it’s a lovely relationship. I hope more people along Carpenter Creek would use them because you have a lot of choice in what you do.”

Some of the other noxious weeds present on the property include wild chervil, Canadian thistle, bull thistle, Scotch broom, yellow-flag iris, purple loosestrife, evergreen blackberry, and tansy ragwort.

The site was in agricultural use from at least 1965 through 2013, the draft plan states. During this time the property was fenced with barbed wire, trees were cleared, the creek was straightened as a ditch, the lake water level was lowered, and a farm bridge provided cattle access to graze both sides of the creek.

During the last five years, beavers have returned to construct several small dams across the ditch, water levels have increased, and reed canary grass now dominates the former pasture areas. Unlike many western Washington wetlands dominated by canary grass, the Beebe site wetland appears to be deeply inundated throughout the year. Areas adjacent to the creek are inundated by about two feet of water and are located on soft peat soils, making access with heavy equipment impractical.

On Friday, Oct. 11, a group of volunteers will continue the restoration process by digging and planting native plants prior to the removal of 200 feet of driveway — to loosen and de-level compacted soils in order to restore hydrologic flow patterns and improve soil tilth. Fencing along the interior driveway and parts of the western site boundary will also be removed in efforts to allow free passage of wildlife through the property while maintaining fences along Barber Cutoff Road to reduce the potential for wildlife and vehicle interactions.

Large woody material will be installed within the upland habitat area and along the wetland margin to increase the structural diversity of the habitats, according to the draft plan. Retention of woody material enhances microbial and wildlife habitat and provides nursery sites for many plant species.

Throughout the project, periodic checks will be conducted to ensure each element of the Backyard Habitat Plan is implemented as specified in the written document and design drawings.

“Next year we’re planning on starting some work,” Adams said. “Kitsap Conservation District also helps maintain the project for up to five years after the work is done. It takes a long time.”

“What we’re doing is accelerating the process to get some species back,” Beebe said.

Kitsap Conservation District provides technical assistance to landowners to help preserve vital natural resources, according to their website. For more information call 360-204-5529 or email them at kcd@kitsapcd.org.

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