Families

Planting, beach cleanups, volunteer options for families

Cora Burns, 8, and her mother, Analiese Burns, plant a bush during a volunteer work party to plant trees and other native plants Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham. The 2015 event was coordinated by Americorps members, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association and the City of Bellingham.
Cora Burns, 8, and her mother, Analiese Burns, plant a bush during a volunteer work party to plant trees and other native plants Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham. The 2015 event was coordinated by Americorps members, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association and the City of Bellingham. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Between jumping in puddles and leaf-piles this fall, consider taking the family out for a few hours to volunteer at one of the many weekend work parties in the area.

Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association

Nearly every weekend from mid-October through early December, the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, known as NSEA, hosts family-friendly work parties in a variety of locations throughout Whatcom County. The work usually involves removing invasive species, planting native species, and other tasks to help restore salmon habitat.

Older kids can volunteer on their own, as long as they have signed adult permission. Parents or guardians should accompany younger volunteers. NSEA provides the work gloves and tools; volunteers are asked to come dressed for the weather and to wear long pants and sturdy shoes.

For information on specific parties, go to n-sea.org/work-parties.

Bellingham Parks and Recreation

Every Saturday morning from mid-September through the first week of December, Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department hosts outdoor work parties that allow even the tiniest volunteers to get their hands dirty.

“We almost always have families, so we’re very masterful at finding things for everyone to do,” said Rae Edwards, parks volunteer coordinator. “It’s part of engaging the community: not turning anybody away if we can.”

Similar to NSEA, the parks’ volunteer days tend to focus on removing invasive plants and putting in native ones to keep the parks looking sharp.

Volunteers should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, and dress for the weather. The city provides gloves and tools and has staff available to help direct everyone for the day’s project. Older kids who volunteer without their parents need a signed liability release form.

To find a list of this fall’s volunteer opportunities, go to cob.org, search “parks volunteer program” and click on the first link.

Locust Beach Cleanup

As part of International Coastal Cleanup Day put on each year by Ocean Conservancy, local environmental groups will gather at Locust Beach to pick up trash and log how much they find. The one-day event will take place 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 19.

Whatcom County Marine Resources Committee, Northwest Straits Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, North Sound Kiteboarding Association, and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities will host this year’s cleanup. Volunteers are asked to meet on the beach, located at the end of Locust Avenue, off of Marine Drive. Parking is extremely limited along the side of the road.

To get to the beach, walk to the end of the road, cross under the train tracks, then follow the trail on the right. The beach is rocky, and volunteers are advised to wear weather-appropriate clothes.

After everyone gathers trash from the beach, volunteers will tally up how many pieces of plastic, bottles, cans, and other debris are picked up, said Eleanor Hines of Northwest Straits. The information is sent back to Ocean Conservancy to be put into a worldwide database.

Garbage pickup supplies will be provided, and light snacks and refreshments will be available. The event is part of this year’s Whatcom Water Weeks.

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