Photo by Kathleen Atkins: A pair of great blue herons.
Photo by Kathleen Atkins: A pair of great blue herons.

Heron Habitat Helpers is in its 19th year providing habitat restoration between Discovery Park and the Ballard Locks, and is hosting its next work party on Saturday, April 13, focused on the perimeter of Kiwanis Ravine.

“How it started was the ravine was there, heron were nesting there, but back in the day it was kind of a dumping ground for washing machines, a car and other trash,” said HHH board member Marla Master.

The organization is volunteer-run, and its work parties can bring in around 15 people normally, and around 30 during special days. It’s Earth Month, Master said, so many green groups are hosting cleanups around the city.

Heron Habitat Helpers restored four sites around the heron colony in Kiwanis Ravine and pushed for a director’s rule that requires builders to provide protections for the heron colony and a buffer zone. It also prohibits construction above ambient above ambient noise levels during nesting season, Master said.

“Our goal now is really to make sure that people are aware of the herons and to educate them, in the hope that generations from now will continue to protect the herons,” she said.

Herons were nesting in Kiwanis Ravine for the first 12 years of the organization’s existence, Master said, but moved to Commodore Park after eagles attacked a number of their nests.

“They went over there and they built about 55 nests in one season,” she said, “so very, very active.”

While the herons haven’t returned to the ravine, it’s still important to protect the habitat, Master said, and Saturday’s work party will focus on removing morning glory, blackberries and other invasive vegetation and planting native plants that will also help stabilize the hillside.

People wanting to join the work party can meet up with other volunteers at the Stevens Restoration Site, 4441 Brygger Drive W. The work party will take place 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., rain or shine.

People are asked to wear protective clothing to avoid nettle stings, and ones they don’t mind getting dirty. Gloves, tools and light snacks will be provided.

Register on the Green City Partnership event page.