Maury Island: ‘Before’ and ‘after’ impact of DNR work starting to become clear

Maury Isle-before and After
Once covered with Scotch broom and other invasive plants (left) Puget SoundCorps crews cleared and replanted the site (mostly by hand) to restore it with native vegetation and improved trails (right). Photo: Bryan Massey/DNR.

It’s no easy job to restore 70-plus acres of a former gravel mine to its pre-development glory, but a DNR-led project is getting the job done on Maury Island. As the before and after photos with this post show, we are starting to get the upper hand on the numerous invasive plants that moved into the area during the many years it served as a surface mine producing gravel and sand for road and building construction in the South Sound.

Those doing the hard work of removing the non-native varieties of blackberries, Scotch broom, poison oak, poison ivy and more at the site — now a King County Regional Park — are Puget SoundCorps teams composed of young people and military veterans, plus many volunteers from the local community. Working for more than a year, through cold winter months and hot summer days, the SoundCorps teams also are rehabilitating trails, removing trash and doing other restoration work on the steeply sloped site.   

The park — 300 acres in all — features stunning views and the longest stretch of undeveloped Puget Sound shoreline in King County. Slated for re-introduction to the site are native grasses plus the several species of trees once there in abundance, such as vine maple, madrona, douglas fir and red alder.

DNR is helping King County Division of Parks and Natural Resources reclaim about 70 acres of the park’s more than 300 acres that were disturbed by mining operations. The $2.2 million in funding for the Maury Island Marine Park reclamation project is part of $10 million appropriated in the 2013 Jobs Act for DNR-related Puget SoundCorps/Veterans Corps projects. DNR’s role is to manage the project, which is providing jobs and experience to young adults, ages 18 to 25 years. The department was selected to administer the project based on its experience in surface mine restoration and Puget Sound clean-up projects.

The Washington Conservation Corps/Puget SoundCorps is a multi-agency effort administered by the state Department of Ecology.

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