Volunteers making a difference at Edmonds Marsh

Before: Nightshade thicket on fence and waterway preventing water flow.
After: Volunteers removed nightshade leaving only fence posts and open channel for freshwater flow. Note large pile of nightshade vines in foreground.

The “before” and “after” photos show the remarkable difference that community volunteers have made in restoring freshwater connections and native plants in the Edmonds Marsh-Estuary, according to project coordinator Joe Scordino. About 50 volunteers have participated in one or more of the seven volunteer work parties since late July to remove the invasive nightshade and chain-link fencing under the Washington Dept. of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.

An invasive plant called bittersweet nightshade has overgrown the native cattails and alder trees on both sides of Highway 104. The nightshade vines also formed thickets on the fencing along Highway 104 necessitating removal to restore freshwater flows into the marsh. Through removal of the nightshade and chain-link fencing, community volunteers have now reconnected the freshwater flows from Shellabarger Creek on the east side of Highway 104 to the marsh on the west side of Highway 104.

More work, though, is needed on the west side of Highway 104 to remove nightshade that is preventing freshwater circulation and killing alder trees, Scordino said. Upcoming volunteer work parties through mid-September will require hip or chest waders for work in the water and mud to remove the nightshade thickets.

The next volunteer events are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 28, both from 10 a.m. to noon along the west side of Highway 104 between Harbor Square and the pedestrian crosswalk at Edmonds City Park. Contact joe.scordino@yahoo.com if you want to volunteer to help.

  1. I remember a while back, a few weeks that there was discussion of some type of very invasive , I thought grasses described like Bamboo would be in its underground spread. Is this the same invasive specimen they were speaking of? Or is it something completely different? It looks like much good work has been done…but it looks different. Perhaps what I am thinking of is in a different location? Thank you.

  2. There are several types of invasive plants choking the marsh/estuary. Some can be pulled out, like the nightshade, but another, called Phragmites, apparently requires chemical intervention. That is probably the one with underground spread that you are thinking of Deborah.

    Yes, it is very exciting to see water actually beginning to flow where it had been blocked by the nightshade. It takes a lot of hardworking citizens working to make that happen.

  3. You are thinking of the bamboo-like reed called Phragmites, which is also invading the marsh. It is similar to but more hardy than reed canary grass. Here is the article from My Edmonds News:
    https://myedmondsnews.com/2021/07/edmonds-marsh-invader-threatens-ecosystem-health/

    The nightshade is yet another invasive and has been there longer and is much more widely spread. You may actually get it in your yard sometimes, but the way it is growing in the marsh is out of control.
    We all need to applaud Joe Scordino and the group helping to remove these menaces from our precious marsh. We really need people like these to make a difference in the community and do good for the planet when so much is going wrong.

  4. This is such amazing work! Very grateful for all the volunteers. Really impressive. Such dedication and love for the community and resources. Thank you!

  5. That is amazing and a lot of hard work. Thank you to all of those volunteers for stepping up to help restore the marsh.

  6. Citizens of Edmonds very grateful for this hard difficult volunteering project that is so necessary thank you

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