Story & Photos by Michael Brunk 
Perched on the hillside overlooking the Shorewood area is the Salmon Creek Ravine Park. This unimproved wilderness area spreads across 88 acres of mature forest. A network of primitive trails leads you through a lush landscape dotted with sword ferns, broad leaf maples, red cedar, hemlocks and other native plant life.
Unfortunately, all is not well in the forest. Like many of the areaâ€™s parks, invasive species are crowding out the natural vegetation and taking over. The effects of this struggle ripple through the ecosystem of our natural spaces, affecting not only the native plants but the wild life that feed on them.
To address the problem, Burien Parks , in conjunction with Shorewood on the Sound  and the Environmental Science Center , organizes regular volunteer work parties to go into our local parks to conduct cleanup activities and remove non-native vegetation.
On Saturday, January 16, a group of 14 volunteers â€“ including students from St. Francis of Assisi â€“ led by naturalist Jean Spohn of the Environment Science Center, gathered for a two hour work party. Their main goal was to attack outgrowths of English ivy that cover the ground and grow up the trunks of trees in park.
Kevin Alexander from Sustainable Burien  pointed out a tree near the entrance to the park that had cracked near the base and toppled over from the weight of the ivy growing on it. This vertical growth of ivy is considered the highest priority as it will bloom and produce berries that are consumed and scattered by wildlife, starting new growths of ivy in the process.
Volunteers cleared 35 trees of ivy, using a technique that involves cutting and removing roughly five feet of ivy vines from around the base of each tree. The remaining ivy growing higher on the trunk will eventually wilt and die over the next several months. While attacking the ivy, they also gathered and carried out any garbage found.
Despite all of the hard work by volunteers at the event, this is just the beginning of the reclamation process at Salmon Creek Ravine Park. Additional work parties are scheduled with the next one taking place on Saturday, March 13.
For complete details on work parties at this and other local parks, visit http://seahurstpark.org/volunteer.html .
Here are photos from Saturday’s event: