A berry good cause — Volunteers remove blackberry from Arlington creek during United Way's 'Day of Caring'

ARLINGTON — Vacations and thorn bushes typically don't mix.

But for Ryan Hansen, they're one in the same.

"It's my last weekend of vacation," said the Everett resident as he leaned on a metal rake near Whitehorse Creek in Arlington Sept. 18. "I just wanted to get out here and help."

Hansen was one of about 30 volunteers who attended a five-hour work party put on by the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force to stamp out Himalayan blackberry from a private property bordering the creek.

The volunteer effort was part of United Way's "Day of Caring" — a country-wide event designed to promote the spirit of volunteerism within communities.

It mainly targets businesses and their employees, said Claire Atkins-Davis, project organizer and intern for the task force.

The task force submitted the project to the United Way, which supplied the local volunteer laborers.

The task force's creek restoration was one of about 30 Snohomish County projects that the United Way supplied labor to, Atkins-Davis said.

Stilly-Snohomish supplied tools, snacks and direction to the volunteers, who in turn spent most of their Friday hunched over pulling the thorny plants.

Workers also planted native, non-invasive species of trees and plants, such as red alder, Oregon ash and Western red cedar.

Atkins-Davis said restoring the site should help restore soil near the creek.

"Homesteaders had been using this land for years, so the soil needs to be better filtered," she said. "We're hoping that these new species will do a better job of filtering that soil, and the shade will provide cooler water temperatures for salmon."

Coho and Chinook salmon typically run through the creek and the nearby Stillaguamish River, she said.

The project began in July after property owner Jacqueline Berg approached the task force with the hopes of funding the creek's restoration.

She said her 11-year-old son had been learning about conservation at school.

"He came up with the idea," Berg said. "We did some research and started looking for the best resource to help and the task force came out to help. They've been incredible."

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