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Leading by example: Local forest stewards honored for environmental efforts
The City of Redmond recently held a Forest Steward Appreciation Picnic at Idylwood Beach Park in Redmond.
The event was organized by the Green Redmond Partnership to honor local volunteers for their environmental efforts on behalf of the city.
Marilynn Leland and Jim Downing were honored for a culmination of years of hard work and collaborative efforts put forth to ensure that Redmond's park legacy and environmental health will continue to thrive for many seasons to come.
Downing, a Steward at Grass Lawn Park, said his experience working as a volunteer has both nurtured valuable partnerships with other citywide organizations and created opportunities to grow and learn on a personal level.
"A while back, when the City of Redmond sponsored a program in my park with the Native Plant Society," he said. "It was an intensive, immersive experience and the knowledge I gained from it helped me acquire a better understanding of what was in the forest — what should be there, what shouldn't be there — as well as planting applications. We've had so much support, and I couldn't ask for a better volunteer organization."
Redmond Mayor John Marchione, was also on hand at the evening's festivities to honor the program pioneers and acknowledged that their influence transcends simple efforts at environmental upkeep.
"They are stewards of more than our forests," he said. "Their hard work ensures that we retain our commitment to our open spaces — our forests, trails, streams and creeks; allowing natural habitats to survive. The combined hours they've devoted, which includes all volunteers participating in work parties led by all forest stewards — past and present — totals 5,914 hours. That's remarkable."
Leland, who serves as a co-steward for Viewpoint Park with fellow honoree Kaytlyn Sanders, said the experience creates an opportunity to not only preserve and ensure the vitality of the area's natural environment, but also connect with other community members.
"There's only so much funding, and if we don't volunteer, things don't get done," Leland said. "I've made a commitment to this, but it just amazes me the number of people who will come out and give a few hours. Everyone has busy lives — and their own yard work. I think that's pretty remarkable."
To learn more about how to become a forest steward or to volunteer in one of Redmond's parks, visit www.greenredmond.org.