Field notes: Keeping your trails clean safe and open without the use of gnomes

As much as we’d all like to believe that gnomes are trained and disciplined enough to maintain our parks, the reality is that they are unskilled labor (with no basis in reality). On the other hand, King County Parks employees are tangible human beings, not mythical fantasy creatures, and they take care of a large swath of the county.

In order to cover this “fun-sized” park system, our Parks crews are actually smaller teams based on geography. Take, for example, our North Utility/Mow Crew. As is the case with all teams they are responsible for their own chunk of our parks and trails systems. These photos are a small slice of their life over a week’s time. Behold.

  • Installing post and rail fence and landscaping along the Gilman in Kenmore.
  • Emergency removal of a hazardous tree in Bothell.
  • Cleanup and removal of a fallen tree blocking the Gilman.

Yesss these photos are Burke-Gilman-centric, and noooo this is not their only slice of the pie. This crew also maintains the Sammamish River Trail, Marymoor Connector, and the East Lake Sammamish Trail. What are some of those duties you ask? Try this on: Repair/installation (fences, benches, tables, art), mowing, landscaping, designing, fabricating and generally being radical to the 10th degree.

* Odds are I missed a few things, but I can be blinded by my irrational dislike of gnomes.

Photo credit: Hank Heiberg

Chinook Bend – Restoration’s golden child. A birder’s rave.

According to our website:
“The Chinook Bend Natural Area is located two miles north of the City of Carnation, on NE Carnation Farm Road. This 59-acre property lies within the Snoqualmie River’s 100-year floodplain and is surrounded by river on three sides. The site contains rich habitat for many fish and wildlife species in its former pastureland, wetlands, and mature deciduous forest. Approximately 20 percent of the Chinook salmon that return to the Snoqualmie River Watershed spawn in the Chinook Bend reach. King County currently has multiple restoration projects at Chinook Bend that are enhancing fish and wildlife habitat.”

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t capture the site’s intricacies. Like the flooding, maintenance, native habitat, restoration, effort. So, we thought we’d share a day(s) in King County’s 28,000 acres of open space.

Enter…PYGMY OWLS! Apparently there have been some sightings of late, and it has brought out the birders [Birders – Similar to the Illuminati, only their focus is on birds, not taking over the world through garish raves and secret doors]. Anywaayyyy, if we’re anthropomorphizing here, these cute little birds of prey have found themselves a haven in Chinook Bend. We say haven, it’s more like an owl buffet. Get it? Because they have a super healthy environment from which to pluck tasty prey. Are these new to the area you ask? No, and they are not rare birds, just rarely seen. Like a griffin or hobbit.

Seems as though all the restoration work by volunteers and your King County staff is paying off. A healthy percentage of the trees onsite, and more than likely the one this owl is perched on, were planted in the last 10+ years. The park sees yearly maintenance to keep those plantings healthy, and free of invasives, so that native species like this may thrive. Bet this owl doesn’t even know how good he has it.

Oh yeah, so “day in the life” right? Have a look at last night’s King 5 report on the owl and the park. That’s right, the birders even have access to King 5. Think about it….(slowly backing out of the room)

P.S. For those of you curious enough to head out there, please do not disturb the owl. It’s going through a really tough breakup and wants to be left alone. Actually it just doesn’t want you meddling with it, so respect its bubble.

* Props to KC staff and Hank Heiberg for the owl shots.

Let’s add some mileage to Grand Ridge with WTA

Grand Ridge

Washington Trails Association (WTA) is coming out to help build two more miles of trail at Grand Ridge, and let’s be honest, this network of trails wouldn’t exist without their massive amounts of sweat equity. Seriously – you see a WTA member thank them for their support. Hugging them is just dangerous, they’re always carrying a pulaski, 15lbs of granola or wearing a hard hat with a name like “Maverick” on it. To sign up visit this link, and know you have our undying gratitude.

* Insert “atta boy”, fist bump and or high five.

Cirque du Soleil - KURIOS

Cirque du Soleil – KURIOS: Behind the scenes

The all-encompassing steampunk design is a gift providing endless new delights.

KURIOS opens tonight! Hopefully your tickets have been secured, because this amazing show only runs until March. Check out what SFGate has to say about this run.

We spent a little time behind the curtain yesterday. Pretty amazing how much goes on underneath a tent. Props, wardrobe and performers were buzzing about. Rehearsing, stretching, wardrobing (yeah it’s a word), even folding a massive amount of paper airplanes. Yes you heard correctly. Backstage there is someone prepping crisp new paper airplanes for every show. Hardest working man in entertainment.

Here’s our sneak peak behind the curtain. To see more follow this link over to our Flickr feed.