DCNA board approves project list for 2011-2012

DCNA’s board recently reviewed its objectives for 2011-2012. Following is a brief description of what we chose as our priorities. We will be adding more information about each to our website in the next few months, but, in the meantime, take a look at the summaries below and let us know what you think. Even better, if they look like activities that you would like to get involved in, please let us know. None of these projects will move forward without community support, and there is no shortage of tasks for which we need volunteers:

Juanita Woodlands Restoration:  We are midway through a 5 year plan to plant approximately 10,000 new trees in sections of the Woodlands where existing stands of Doug fir are dying from root rot. A copy of the plan is posted on our website. Generally we schedule our planting events on and around Martin Luther King Day in January. Also, at other times of the year, we schedule maintenance work parties to clear invasive species from prospective planting sites and to ensure that they are not encroaching on newly planted trees while they are establishing themselves. Our goal is maintain a consistent program of planting, removing invasives and monitoring mature trees for root rot for the next decade. Our hope is that the Woodlands will be largely self-sustaining after that time period has elapsed.

Trail Maintenance: DCNA volunteers have regularly worked on maintaining trails in neighborhood parks. We are now cutting a few new trails in the eastern section of the Juanita Woodlands, primarily to provide access to areas in which new trees will be planted. And we have discussed working with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association on a program to maintain and mark trails for hikers and mountain bikers in Big Finn Hill Park. Our goal is to establish a regular schedule of work parties in all area parks that is sufficient to keep the trails in good repair on a year-round basis. Ideally, we will expand the trail maintenance program to include tree planting and forest health monitoring activities, like those that are already a part of our Juanita Woodlands restoration plan.

Trail Mapping: Finn Hill residents have asked us repeatedly for maps of the trails in O.O. Denny Park. We plan to produce a hiker’s map, with commentary on flora and fauna, by next spring. We hope to be able to expand the map to include trails in Big Finn Hill Park. Ideally, we will be able to marry our maps with GPS, so that hikers can not only follow their progress on smart phones but also receive (and transmit) information about what they see along the way.

Surface Water Management: Several years ago, DCNA volunteers prepared a survey of the Denny Creek watershed, noting several challenges to O.O. Denny Creek’s ability to support salmon. We intend to work with the City of Kirkland to address these challenges, including proper design and maintenance of detention ponds. We want to promote land use practices that reduce “flashy” runoff of storm water, which scours the creeks flowing from Finn Hill, leading to erosion and washing out fish and the invertebrates they feed on.  DCNA will host a series of meetings this fall to outline surface water priorities for the 2012 update to the Kirkland Surface Water Master Plan.

Certified Backyard Habitats:  DCNA is working with Green Kirkland Partnership to promote the certification of Finn Hill residents’ properties as Backyard Habitats. This program promotes bird and animal friendly landscaping. We have recently completed a map of certified Backyard Habitats across Kirkland. Current plans include expanding the coverage of certified backyards over time, and a series of workshops for residents who are already part of the program.

Finn Hill 2050: Working with the Planning and Community Development staff of the City of Kirkland, as well as experts in urban design and environmental protection, DCNA plans to gather information on likely scenarios for the development of Finn Hill over the next 40 years. By doing so, we can get a better picture of the traffic, housing, population, and public services trends that our neighborhood will experience in the coming decades. We hope that having this information will help Finn Hill residents understand the choices they face and the opportunities they have to promote a community that is diverse, safe, and convenient and that is a good steward of its parks, creeks, and other natural resources.

Educational Outreach: DCNA has cooperated for many years with local schools, particularly the Environmental and Adventure School, to engage their students in park maintenance projects. Our goal is to establish a regular program of park visits with school children so that, as they grow, they will have the opportunity to see the natural landscape change over time, hopefully for the better as programs in which they are involved progress. Ideally, DCNA can work with teachers and school administrators to employ parks and natural resources as integral elements in their science, math, and arts programs.

Land Use Issues:  Our organization is rooted in preserving the health of our parks and in promoting good stewardship of our neighborhood’s creeks, wetlands, and wildlife. We will continue to monitor proposals to construct a new fire station (on potential sites such as Big Finn Hill Park and a wetland adjacent to Finn Hill Junior High) and to convert a soccer practice field into an all-season, lighted lacrosse field. We will also work with the City of Kirkland to ensure vigorous enforcement of King County’s special district overlay ordinance, protecting significant trees and limiting certain forms of development on residential properties. That ordinance has been incorporated into Kirkland’s municipal code. We intend to prepare a new brochure describing how the ordinance works and how it relates to other provisions in the Kirkland code protecting trees.

Community Celebrations: DCNA recently revived its annual picnic in O.O. Denny Park, now known as DennyFest, and, last year, also joined in the annual Christmas ships bonfire at the park, serving free hot chocolate to attendees. It will continue to participate in these events and is discussing plans to include DennyFest in a series of coordinated neighborhood celebrations throughout Kirkland in the summer and fall each year.

Communications and Membership: For many years, DCNA has kept members informed of its activities through the distribution of newsletters in April, September and December. In an effort to provide more timely reports, we recently launched a new website, which we frequently update, and set up a Facebook page. We have also begun to send out email bulletins.  Looking forward, we want to enrich the website and develop an effective social media program, so that DCNA will be a convenient source of news and information to its members regarding environmental issues and neighborhood activities.

Neighborhood Association:  With annexation of Finn Hill into Kirkland, DCNA’s board has been working with Finn Hill residents to consider modifications to DCNA’s bylaws and mission statement with the goal of establishing DCNA (perhaps renamed as the Finn Hill Neighborhood Alliance) as Kirkland’s recognized neighborhood association for Finn Hill. Our goal is to bring this issue to DCNA members for a vote in the fall. If the proposal receives member approval, we will then focus on implementing bylaw revisions and adding new initiatives to our agenda through the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.

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