Klahanie’s natural areas registered as wildlife sanctuary

May 26, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

A couple of ducks sun on a dock in an area of the Klahanie natural area, recently designated a wildlife sanctuary by the U.S. Humane Society.By Chantelle Lusebrink

A couple of ducks sun on a dock in an area of the Klahanie natural area, recently designated a wildlife sanctuary by the U.S. Humane Society.By Chantelle Lusebrink

Klahanie’s natural areas are now registered as an urban wildlife sanctuary with the U.S. Humane Society. 

Klahanie, with more than 300 acres of open space, was given the title by humane society officials in March after a lot of work by the area’s residents, who formed the Natural Areas Association of Klahanie. 

Working in conjunction with county officials, the group’s members undertook an aggressive rehabilitation plan to help clear the invasive species using sustainable tactics and foster an area for wildlife. That was four years ago.

“We are really proud of the work we’ve accomplished today,” said Bonnie Anderson, chair of the association. 

The 900-acre urban village development started construction nearly 20 years ago. 

But years of little maintenance allowed non-native plants and noxious weeds to grow, stifling the health of the forests, bogs, ponds and lake, Anderson said.“There was a lot of infestation of ivy, scotch broom,” she said. “It had basically proliferated and taken over, deterring natural plant growth and decreasing wildlife in the area.” 

That is when the Natural Areas Association was formed, she said. 

“We feel that the maintenance of our natural areas is as important as the rest of the things we provide our residents, like the pool and tennis courts, streets and sidewalks,” said James Tripp, Klahanie’s community manager, who helped with the project. 

Association volunteers like Anderson secured grant money from the county and Klahanie residents to help pay for the rehabilitation. 

To accomplish their goals, the association was given about $60,000 between 2008 and 2009 from the homeowners association and about $12,500 in grants from King County. They also received a $500 grant from the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah.

With that money, association volunteers and Earth Corps members worked side by side to clear about 85 percent to 90 percent of the area’s invasive species, using sustainable forestry practices and as few chemicals as possible, said Linsey Blake, a project manager for Earth Corps. 

Earth Corps is a nonprofit group, most of whose members are studying, or have studied, environmental education at colleges throughout the world and travel to different areas in the U.S. to help foster healthy forests and promote forestry.

“They bring expertise to our area,” Anderson said. “They have the knowledge and resources to help improve our native areas and educate our residents.”

In addition to the clearing of invasive species, Diane Weinstein, an association member and member of the Eastside Audubon Conservancy, said volunteers have also surveyed more than 100 types of birds and several other types of animals in Klahanie. 

They also started testing the water quality of Yellow Lake and created several trail maps and brochures to help residents find native species on the trail, Anderson added.

After their hard work, Weinstein said she and Anderson gathered documentation of the area’s natural resources and their rehabilitation plan to give to the U.S. Humane Society for consideration. 

Aside from their wildlife sanctuary designation, association volunteers said education is the most important thing they’ve gained for their community.

“It has been a chance to strategize the best approach and strategies for removal and embark on it as a community,” Anderson said. 

“We take a lot of pride, as a community in our natural areas,” Tripp said. “I would hold what we do as a community as a challenge to any other community in east King County.”

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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