VetsWork: Top 5 Reasons Why My Job Had A Huge Impact

Jarret Griesemer

1. I directly supported forest health assessments on 806 acres.

Forests dominate much of the King County landscape, covering two-thirds of the land area. – King County Rural Forest Commission

Forest health assessment for private forest landowner.Forest health assessment for private forest landowner.

2. I helped to develop stewardship plans that will place approximately 1,020 acres of public land under active stewardship in Snoqualmie, Bothell, and Shoreline.  

About 619,000 acres of forestland in King County are in public ownership.  – King County Rural Forest Commission

Community volunteer at forest restoration event in Snoqualmie, WA.Community volunteer at forest restoration event in Snoqualmie, WA.

3. In a little over 10 months, I helped 3 rural forest landowners to complete comprehensive forest management plans. This will place 5 more acres under active forest management, adding to the over 16,600 acres already participating in King County’s Forestry Program.

There are over 6,000 small forest landowners with holdings of four acres or larger and thousands more who own “backyard forests” on smaller lots. – King County Rural Forest Commission

Forest site visit on Vashon Island with King County Forester, Kristi McClelland

Forest site visit on Vashon Island with King County Forester, Kristi McClelland

4. I educated 351 community members and students about environmental topics, including forest health and restoration, for a total of 1,382 hours.

The three greatest threats to native biodiversity in King County (and most places) are development and associated fragmentation and loss of habitat, invasive species, and climate change (not necessarily in that order). – King County

Volunteers from local Girl Scout troop helping remove invasive blackberry bushes in Snoqualmie, WA.

Volunteers from local Girl Scout troop helping remove invasive blackberry bushes in Snoqualmie, WA.

5. I worked with community volunteers to install 2 Hügelkultur garden mounds that will provide 400 square feet of community garden space.

As a growing portion of the urban open space network, community gardens and gardeners are contributing to land preservation, access to open space, and sustainable uses of usually otherwise vacant land.  – University of Washington

Installing a Hügelkultur garden mound with DigginShoreline in Shoreline, WA.

Installing a Hügelkultur garden mound with DigginShoreline in                   Shoreline, WA.

Picture Quiz – Can you guess if it’s an Urban or Backcountry Forest?
Urban forests in King County are beautiful and often times indistinguishable from backcountry forests. Answers at the bottom.

1. One is from the City of Snoqualmie and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?

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2. One is from the City of Bothell and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?

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3. One is from the City of Redmond and one is from the Olympic National Forest. Which is urban forest?

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4. One is from the City of Seattle and one is from the Dome Valley in New Zealand. Which is urban forest?

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ANSWERS: (1) A (2) A (3) B (4) B

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VetsWork: Planting Roots of Conservation in King County

Jarret Griesemer

When the last official day of my contract with the Navy fluttered on by almost unnoticed, I never thought I would eventually find myself doing something so closely tied to the natural world. Two years’ worth of long hours of military training and practicing led to three years of dark and tiresome days onboard a submarine for even more training, practicing, and qualifying. Those days were well-served and helped to build strong character, but I was glad that they were behind me. I knew I was ready to unplug from a career that was so detached from nature.

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The Navy moved me to the Seattle area for the last three years. I had always been fond of the outdoors, but never had I ever felt so connected with the mountains, the streams, the forests, and wildlife until I transplanted and became immersed in the Pacific Northwest. After settling in, I quickly joined the Mountaineers and found myself falling in love with hiking and climbing. I loved the new found challenge of navigating old-growth forests and scaling peaks with crumbly volcanic rock. But what grew true passion was the calling of the mountains, the dampness of the dense evergreen forests, and the sting of morning mist outside of the tent at a high alpine campsite. The fundamental human connection to nature was being forged inside me, and I knew I’d have to make time with nature a huge portion of my life.

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After considering the possibilities of continuing as an engineer or going to school to become a mountain guide, I finally found the perfect balance of office and field work. I am now working with the King Conservation District (KCD) in Renton, WA on numerous conservation training projects and several new initiatives in forest health management. Such a quick transition into a career path in natural resources would not have been possible if not for Mt. Adam’s Institute’s VetsWork AmeriCorps program.

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Over the first few weeks, I have been engaged in volunteer and service projects that have had a heavy influence on the improvement of the natural ecosystems in King County. One project that I am particularly proud to publicize is the KCD Bare Root Plant Sale that was held on March 5 after weeks and weeks of planning and coordination on many different levels. All in all we prepared for and eventually sold over 700 orders that totaled over 50,000 bare root plants that will go on to provide positive reinforcement of the functions and values of our local ecosystems just outside of Seattle.

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I have also begun my training in forestry, going on site visits in the field to assess, survey, and practice and implement inventory techniques. The District is poised to launch its brand new Forest Health Management programs in both the urban and rural settings throughout the county; all of which is fortified by lots of research and education in forest stewardship. I am beyond excited to be a part of the discovery and development process and truly blessed to be working alongside such knowledgeable and supportive mentors. Most importantly, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to finally tie my career path in with my ever-expanding passion for the outdoors.

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