Microsoft employees restore Lake Sammamish State Park habitat

May 24, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Microsoft employees (from left) Jenni Powell, of Kirkland, Bob Scola, of Issaquah, and April Ritscher, of Monroe, cut down an invasive English Hawthorne tree during a habitat restoration project May 20 at Lake Sammamish State Park. By Greg Farrar

Microsoft helped the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust reboot Issaquah Creek habitat May 20.

More than 60 employees from the software giant’s campus along East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast in Issaquah gathered at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Margaret Ullman, volunteer program manager for the greenway trust, said the longtime relationship between the organization and Microsoft resulted in crucial habitat restoration.

“It’s so important for Microsoft to come out here, because their campus is within walking distance of this project site. Many of them came from the office this morning or will go back for a meeting and come back out to work. This is a place where they walk by every single day,” she said. “Getting them personally invested, and the company as well, in the natural areas right on their doorstep is pivotal.”

The trust and the state parks agency partnered to restore more than 50 acres of streamside, lakeshore and wetland habitat in the park since 2005.

“We’re all excited to be a part of this very important effort,” Robert Cope, Enterprise Application Services business administrator at Microsoft, said in a press release. “Our offices look out onto the park, and the employees wanted to give back to a place that is an incredible resource for us and for the local community.”

The restoration effort last week almost completes restoration along the northern side of the creek, stretching about a mile from the creek mouth to the Microsoft campus. The work is meant to prepare the site for fall plantings.

Overall, volunteers have contributed more than 22,000 hours by removing invasive weeds, and planting thousands of native trees and shrubs.

The efforts form a critical part of the effort to restore habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened chinook salmon, which live in or migrate through the 514-acre park.

Restoration in the park complements city and King County projects upstream. The ongoing effort is meant to improve the overall ecological health of the entire Issaquah Creek basin.

The park project is funded through support from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the King Conservation District, FedEx and Carter Motors.

The greenway stretches along Interstate 90 from the Seattle waterfront to Central Washington. The greenbelt links natural areas, farms, forests, communities, recreation opportunities and habitat for wildlife.

“The premise of the greenway is about collaborative planning for a sustainable landscape,” Ullman said. “So, we need to be actively involving members from all different regions of society, including corporate groups.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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