Humility, Honesty, Herbicides

SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve currently protects over 100 acres of Puget Lowland Bog, Wetlands, and Upland forests as well as the headwaters of Jenkin’s Creek. As a Land Trust and a Nature Preserve, we are mission-driven to protect biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

About 10 acres of the land at the Nature Preserve was purchased after it had been clear cut and abandoned. This portion of the property was crowded with Alder, which reseeds in disturbed areas, and was overgrown with non-native Himalayan and Evergreen Blackberry. For the past 15 years SHADOW staff and volunteers have worked on hand-pulling blackberry from this site. Despite these efforts and a restoration project attempted in 2012, the blackberry has only spread, gobbling up much of the biodiversity on the property. Read more about this history.

In January of 2018, SHADOW began a project to restore these 10 acres along with seven additional acres of adjacent land with similar issues that was acquired by the Nature Preserve in May of 2017. The goals of this project are to increase plant diversity and improve habitat for the wildlife that call SHADOW home.

In pursuit of these goals, this restoration project will incorporate the use of herbicides for treatment of invasive species. Many of us working on the project have personal reservations about herbicides and see their use as a last resort. Some members of our community would prefer that they never be used.

As a Nature Preserve and Land Trust, we must look to the science (papers written about restoration successes and failures) and the best science we have available supports the use of herbicides to achieve our goals. As a staff and board, we have consulted experts like state ecologists, local botanists, and our NRCS and KCD partners. All agree that to prevent the spread of these invasive species and restore the biodiversity of the land, we must work aggressively, and that using herbicides will give us the best chance of success.

There are real concerns that science is continuously improving and changing and may one day prove that the use of herbicides did more harm than good. As consumers, many of us support organic whenever possible. As land managers, we often wish that the use of herbicides was not necessary to mitigate our human impacts and past mistakes but must also trust in science.

We hold both truths: we see the harm in herbicides AND know that we don’t currently have any better tools to do this important work.

SHADOW promises to use herbicides as sparingly as possible in the restoration of these 17 acres. We are using barrier methods like hedgerows (not herbicides) to prevent regrowth and further spread. The project is committed to being intentional and experimental with natural invasive control methods. We have a monitoring plan in place to record the progress of the project and to help the community learn more through this process.

Please feel free contact our office with any questions and concerns. We appreciate your thoughtful consideration and support of our work.

May we not ignore the land’s own wisdom, may we be humble in our management, and may we work for the betterment of all life.