Park parties on toward completion

POULSBO — For a handful of nature lovers the one “can’t miss event” of the weekend wasn’t at a club, theater or sports venue. Instead, the be there or be square affair took place at Poulsbo’s Fish Park, and it was jumpin’ and jivin’ Sunday as members of the park’s steering committee and other volunteers raised the space’s first official interpretive sign. The occasion was not marked by champagne and party crackers but by the well-deserved satisfaction of workers, who have sweated and toiled for three years to see the park reach its completion.

But it’s not done yet.

First purchased in 2002, the 13.36-acre property located on the north side of Lindvig Way along Dogfish Creek has been transformed almost exclusively by volunteers, who have offered their skills each third Sunday of the month to party the park on toward perfection. Since work parties began in 2004, benches and trails have been created, donated trees and shrubs have been planted and nursed to health, and now the first sign is officially standing, marking for all to see that Poulsbo’s Fish Park is open for those who love experiencing the outdoors.

“We’re still a long ways from completion,” said Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey. “But there’s certainly a lot accomplished. There’s so much being done.”

The steering committee is looking to continue installing signs and getting three more footbridges up and running this month. Members will also daylight one of the park’s streams and reroute another to improve the area for salmon migration.

“By the time we’re done with this, there will be a couple miles of trails,” said steering committee chair Tom Nordlie. “There’s been a lot of shaping and grading to make the park what it is today.”

One task in need of attention is something many gardeners loathe: weeding. Noxious weeds are beginning to invade trails, and the committee hopes volunteers will find a few hours to help drive them away, as well as assist in other tasks.

“We welcome anybody to come,” Nordlie said. “We’ve got plenty of things to do.”

He said attendance at work parties can range from eight or nine to 80 or 90 people. Church groups, scout troops, United Way and other organizations and individuals have all turned out to do their share.

“The one thing about this is it is a nature preserve,” said steering committee member and plant ecologist Joan Hett. “It’s really here for the enjoyment of the community.”

She said the committee is working to produce lowland plant communities to encourage the presence of animals that often live in them. Conifers, which attract birds, have been planted with special gel packs to keep them well-watered, and Hett said she hopes to develop a steady wildlife corridor.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” she said. “It’ll come in time. Growing plant communities is a long term thing.”

Volunteers are welcome to join Poulsbo’s Fish Park work parties, which run from 1-4 p.m. every third Sunday of the month. The steering committee encourages workers to dress for the weather and bring gardening tools and gloves. For information about group community improvement projects at Poulsbo’s Fish Park, call (360) 779-9898.

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