Native Plant Salvage Foundation
The WSU Extension’s Native Plant Salvage Project was founded in 1994 to connect Thurston County residents with hands-on opportunities to improve local water quality and protect important habitat from the South Sound prairies to the shores of Puget Sound. Beginning with the Deschutes watershed in 1994, the Project now interacts with communities throughout the Salish Sea region by involving residential and professional learners in hands-on education through both classroom activities and demonstration on-the-ground action projects. The work centers primarily on green stormwater infrastructure–including rain gardens and “naturescaping,” shoreline stewardship, and ecological restoration.
To sustain the community’s desire for the Project’s activities to continue after start-up grants ended, a volunteer advisory committee incorporated the non-profit Native Plant Salvage Foundation (NPSF) in 2000. WSU Native Plant Salvage Project and NPSF are separate entities, but joined in the same mission: “to promote the use, preservation, knowledge, and appreciation of native plants in the landscape through action and education.”
One of the main goals of some of NPSP’s workshops and field-based projects is to conserve and protect water resources by teaching citizens how to create more layered and diverse landscapes using native and other drought-tolerant plants, thereby intercepting and filtering stormwater and increasing the amount of rainwater that soaks into the soil to recharge groundwater aquifers; eliminating the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers; and avoiding supplemental irrigation once plants are established.
As its name implies, a key activity in the Thurston County area is to “salvage” native plants from sites that are soon to be developed. With a team of experienced volunteers, AmeriCorps members, and WSU staff member Erica Guttman as leaders, new volunteers are taught to rescue native plants to be potted up and tended to at the NPS nursery, or sent home immediately with volunteers carrying out their own revegetation or naturescaping projects.
Plants maintained by NPS are used in future community restoration projects, home gardens, and rain gardens. The NPS nursery offers both formal workshops and informal hands-on learning. New volunteers are encouraged to ask questions of the veteran plant experts who have years of experience experimenting with new techniques to learn best practices for the combination of native plant salvage and propagation employed at the nursery.
NPSF and Capitol Land Trust (CLT) have worked together on several habitat improvements projects over the years, especially for the annual MLK Days of Service. But starting in 2016, we formalized our partnership, allowing NPSF and CLT volunteers to combine forces at several CLT properties: Springer Lake Preserve, Edwards Conservation Easement, Tilley East & West Preserves, and Darlin Creek Preserve.
The mission: Volunteer education and engagement to remove invasive species and replant native plants to restore ecological function and habitat. It was a win-win for our two organizations: NPSF’s volunteers loved digging in to protect CLT’s parcels and both teams of volunteers enjoyed collaborating while learning more about the work of each organization. Thanks to all joint volunteer efforts, several acres of native trees and shrubs are establishing where invasive species previously thrived. Now we get to watch the overall diversity and health of critical habitat improve. On top of that, yummy food is always provided during NPSF’s work parties to keep volunteers fueled!
From action projects to workshops, lectures, and field courses, there are many fun opportunities to get involved in NPSF’s important work in our watershed. Upcoming events include their annual Spring Plant Sale, plant walks, propagation classes, and more.
See a full list of opportunities by visiting their website!
We are grateful to Native Plant Salvage’s hard work and dedication to make our corner of the world a better place and look forward to working on future projects together.