Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Robert Kam sat down with Daniel Einstein and Sarah Hamman of the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation (OlyEcosystems) to discuss their work to conserve and preserve forests and wetlands in the fragile ecosystem of the urban shoreline.
OlyEcosystems was founded to “protect, preserve, and restore the diverse ecosystems of Olympia, Washington that include the freshwater, shoreline, tidal waters, and upland forests that are home to the Pacific Great Blue Heron, cutthroat trout, salmon, and companion species. In coordination with community members, local agencies, and other non-profit groups, we work to ensure that these ecosystems remain vital in perpetuity.”
“We are a conservation organization,” explains Einstein, who started the nonprofit with some neighbors. “We conserve land and we restore land and we are a little bit different from many conservation organizations in the sense that our focus is urban, and therefore many of the properties that we conserve are actually degraded and need a lot of work, but our key focus is really on restoring ecosystem function to the city.”
Started in 2014, OlyEcosystems started by conserving a couple properties near a development. The group works on preserving and restoring areas of land within the urban setting, which not only benefits humans by giving us green spaces to enjoy, but helps keep the delicate ecosystem in balance by providing much-needed habitats for local wildlife and improving the ecological health of the Puget Sound area.
There current projects include the West Bay Woods, which according to the OlyEcosystems website is: “a remnant shoreline forest that sits above the southern estuarine portion of Budd Inlet in South Puget Sound. These woods have seen various uses over the past 200 years that have left them marked, changed and degraded.”
“That area along West Bay Drive drains an incredible amount of water, that’s coming off of the northwest neighborhoods,” explains Hamman. “The stormwater infrastructure for draining water after all of our winter storms and spring storms is not adequate to basically collect and clean all of that water before it gets down to Puget Sound. So, the woods acts like a filter. If the woods are not functioning properly and not filled with the native plants and soils that can properly and effectively filter that storm water, it’s going to be going right down into the Sound.”
Part of the West Bay Drive piece will be reforested with redwoods and will become the largest coastal redwood grove in South Puget Sound.
They are always needing helping hands to continue their mission. Volunteers can help by joining work parties that restore and maintain these important urban green spaces. For those looking for a bigger role, you can also join the Board of Directors or a committee, that includes anything from web design to conservation strategizing. They are particularly looking for someone with communications skills for their Board, especially social media.
For more information, watch the full video and visit the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation website.
You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.