Volunteers plant native species to enhance Froggy Bottoms

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It’s easy to maintain a social distance of 6 feet when gardening.

So despite the morning cold, a group of neighbors and volunteers gathered on March 14 to plant a native garden at Froggy Bottoms on the corner of Cedar and Pacific streets in Port Townsend.

The ongoing project dates back to 1998, when volunteers, native plant society members and city officials joined together to restore the area now known as Froggy Bottoms.

Historically, the area was a wetland, but it had been filled in over the course of several years prior to 1990. In 1992, the city purchased the 3-acre parcel, and it was used as a dumping ground.

“I was hired to do a mitigation project required because this had been dug out as a stormwater retention site,” said Dixie Llewellin, a member of the Olympic Chapter of the Native Plant Society and now one of many volunteers installing the native plant garden at Froggy Bottoms.

“The cool thing about this project is that it’s the combined effort of the city, the Native Plant Society, the Native Connections Actions Group and the PT Trails Crew,” she said.

Since work began in 1998, the area has become a restored wetland. It provides stormwater treatment and detention for San Juan Avenue and habitat for birds and other wildlife. Garry oaks and cottonwoods have grown tall over the years, providing native habitat for many species.

The area includes city trails, as well as being a stop along the Chetzemoka Trail—a city-wide trail that takes walkers and cyclists to historic areas associated with Chief Cecmehan and the Jamestown S’Klallam people.

Now, volunteers are planting native species such as camas to create a native prairie—similar to the prairies that once covered the entirety of the Quimper Peninsula.

“I wanted to re-establish a native prairie here forever,” said Lys Burden, who is part of the Native Connections Actions Group.

Volunteers on March 14 helped remove the invasive quackgrass so native species could survive, while planting some native shrubs and bushes. There are now 350 camas planted at the entrance to Froggy Bottoms, as well as fawn and chocolate lilies, which will begin flowering in the coming months.

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