I am an avid user of parks on Mercer Island, and over the past year I have noticed a plethora of “restoration” activities taking place. On one hand, I appreciate the efforts of our Parks and Recreation department in their decision to actively manage public lands. However, I believe they are misguided in their intentions and reasoning with the public.
Removing invasive species, such as English Ivy, seems like a no-brainer. Planting species of pine and spruce under the guise of “native trees” is more of a stretch. Where on Mercer Island may I find a native Ponderosa pine? Lodgepole pine? Sitka spruce? The fact that the city presents these ongoing projects as “restoration” is incorrect. In reality, we are still missing the concept by a large margin and our future parks will not exhibit the same structure, diversity, or function of forests that once inhabited the Island. We may be willing to accept this cost and recognize that the parks will never retain their native features.
In some cases, such as Pioneer Park, root rots and other funguses may prevent the planting of truly native species. In all cases, the city should actively acknowledge that the language and presentation of these activities is misleading and incorrect.