Seattle City Light employees joined other community-minded volunteers to plant trees and remove invasive non-native plants at the Northern State Recreation Area near Sedro Woolley on Saturday, April 23.
The project, sponsored by the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and Skagit County Parks and Recreation, was part of Earth Day events held throughout the region. It also marked the first project of City Light’s employee volunteer program.
“Many of our employees already volunteer on their own time, but we wanted to create a program where we provide opportunities for employee volunteers to work together with community-based organizations,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “Volunteer projects help create healthier communities and provide employees with rewarding experiences by giving back to the community.”
A half-dozen City Light employees were among the 94 volunteers who participated. The project was part of an effort to improve habitat for salmon and resident fish in Hansen Creek, which runs through the 726-acre recreation area and is in the lower Skagit River watershed.
Volunteers planted about 400 trees and removed several dozen large, non-native butterfly bushes from the banks of the creek. “It is a beautiful plant, but it spreads really quickly,” Lucy DeGrace, outreach coordinator for the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, said. “It can push everything else out, which can decrease the food and habitat available for wildlife and fish.”
If people like the look of butterfly bush, they can plant native, non-invasive Douglas spirea, DeGrace said.
City Light’s employee volunteer program focuses on the priority areas of environmental stewardship, energy efficiency, and education. An employee advisory committee helps identify volunteer projects and assists with event coordination and promotion.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.