At SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve, we work on projects involving ecological restoration. Ecological restoration is accelerating ecosystem recovery following damage, degradation, or destruction. We create conditions needed for plants and animals become healthy and successful. For example, by removing invasive species, cleaning up trash, or planting native vegetation, flora and fauna can access adequate food, clean water, and shelter. SHADOW staff regularly monitors the Nature Preserve to assess the ecological needs of the land. We try to restore the land to its native balance so that it can eventually recover, even if it takes hundreds of years.   

The largest project currently underway at SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve is our Alder Grove Area. SHADOW partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to restore this area to native forested habitat. In 2019, 1,640 conifer trees were planted that will grow and re-establish a healthy forest ecosystem. To assist this process, SHADOW staff and volunteers give the young trees breathing room by removing weeds. This process creates space for the trees to grow big and healthy. Eventually, these trees will be large enough to outcompete invasive species and the Alder Grove Restoration Area will be on a course towards a self-sustaining ecosystem where biodiversity, structure, and function are restored.  
*Photo taken before February 2020
Similar restoration processes are underway in other parts of the Nature Preserve. In partnership with the King Conservation District (KCD), the Miller Project contains multiple zones of restoration, each with its own needs to put the land on a path towards recovery. Some zones have been planted with native vegetation and are regularly buffered by SHADOW staff and volunteers, while other zones need heavy invasive plant removal from contractors.   

Beginning in 2019 and going throughout 2020, contractors worked to remove an intense yellow archangel infestation on one of SHADOW’s parcels partnership with the Healthy Lands Project (HeLP) through the King County Noxious Weed Program. This project has produced drastic visual changes because the yellow archangel that once blanketed the project areas has been reduced to mulch and sparse seedlings. SHADOW will partner with HeLP for another year removing the re-growth of persistent noxious weeds and re-planting native vegetation to support the revival of a healthy ecosystem.   There are many ways for you to get involved with local ecological restoration efforts. SHADOW is always working to better the ecosystems and habitats at the Nature Preserve and volunteer service plays an important role in our restoration projects. SHADOW has many opportunities for stewardship, and you can volunteer as a regularly scheduled Restoration Assistant, become an on-call Restoration Work Party volunteer, or set up a stewardship day with your group!