The wild side of a community partnership

By Keiana Hadjireza
University of Washington Bothell and the Friends of North Creek Forest recently took another major step in building a partnership to improve the environment, educate students and preserve a piece of the wild inside the city.

Students in North Creek Forest

The community organization is now temporarily based on campus in Husky Hall. This enables joint programming and direct access for students taking courses through the UW Bothell Office of Community-Based Learning and Research (CBLR).

The 64-acre forest is within walking distance of the campus, nestled between suburban neighborhoods and Interstate 405. It helps improve air quality and filters water flowing into the North Creek wetlands on campus. It gives students research and engagement opportunities in their own backyard. Thanks largely to the efforts of Friends of North Creek Forest, it is fully owned by the city of Bothell.

the forest canopy

"If you don't protect this land, you're jeopardizing future learning" says Emily Sprong, executive director of Friends of North Creek Forest.

Environmental studies, education, writing, conservation biology, ethics, art, GIS mapping, water quality, business, economics and engineering are a few of the courses affiliated with CBLR and Friends of North Creek Forest.

students work in forest

The collaboration is a mutually beneficial relationship, says Kara Adams, director of community engagement. Students also help restore and conserve the forest.

UW Bothell has taken a truly cross-disciplinary approach to this partnership. Mechanical engineering students helped design a sustainable irrigation system. Business students helped with fundraising. STEM living and learning students helped plant more native species and promote the growth of oyster mushrooms, which filter water.

stairs into forest

Protected from development, North Creek Forest is home to more than 100 native plant species as well as squirrels, bees and birds. The forest also serves as a place for relaxation and enjoyment as it is a peaceful piece of the wild still left in Bothell. Plans call for trails, park benches and public restrooms. The canopy creates a dry place on light rainy days and beautiful scenery for a picnic.

(Photos by Marc Studer and Keiana Hadjireza)

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