Why the bicycle trailer?
It doesn’t make sense to work for the environment and unnecessarily burn gasoline in the process. The impacts of carbon dioxide include warming ocean temperatures (climatecentral.org) that decimate migrating salmon (Mackerel Blamed for Wild Salmon Decline). Climate change is largely responsible for repeated droughts that threaten forests from Mexico to Canada (Western Wildfires).
Despite the hypocrisy of “eco-name” truckscapers, the reality of a growing business and retaining employees requires accepting jobs beyond bicycle distance. The founder of Garden Cycles continues to be car-free (approaching 30 years), and recently adapted to an electric bicycle (and loving it!), thanks to a sponsorship from Alki Bike and Board using Bafang E-Components.
To the dismay of Garden Cycles' founder, not all employees are able to sustain hard work and bicycle-commute. However, the trees we plant do mitigate some of our clients' carbon, and many employees plant trees for their own footprint. We also purchase carbon credits from Evergreen Carbon. We offer wage incentives to employees to “green commute.” Not everyone can do without a car, but those looking to reduce their “ecological footprint,” can buy and hire locally.
We’ve all heard “Right plant, right place.” Let’s add, “Right tool, right timing,” aiming for a net environmental gain. It’s all about working with nature within nature-defined limits.
Our approach to restoration is simple: 1) Thoroughly eradicate invasives, taking great care to preserve existing native plants, 2) Incorporate woody debris (woodchips, woodstraw, branches, logs) into and on the soil to increase the stormwater sponge and filtration capacity (recreating the plant-sustaining “fungal food web” that existed before bulldozing, root removal, and soil compaction (call811.com/ before you dig), 3) Emphasize evergreen plantings at groundcover, shrub and tree levels to intercept winter stormwater and reduce weed reinvasion, 4) Plant diverse evergreen and deciduous native plants for ecosystem resiliency, and 5) Take measures to chip and reduce kindling loads while retaining nurse logs for soil moisture.
For slope restoration, our goal is to establish a buttress/retaining wall of large-tree roots at the toe of the slope (photo above illustrates robust exposed roots) that compresses slope soils above, and a blanketing underground web of diverse roots throughout the slope that pins everything together. Unlike geo-engineering with immediate benefits, the roots of healthy vegetation bind individual soil particles and grow increasingly stronger with age, improving wildlife habitat, stormwater filtration, and natural beauty.
Try hand-removing knotweed's 10-foot deep roots along a salmon stream, and erosion will smother salmon eggs. Cut it, and it will regrow with 20 times the stems. Smother it with weed cloth for years and it will still survive, and the pollution from transporting and disposing rolls of plastic is worse than herbicide. Leave the knotweed to spread, and the food web for insects that feed salmon fingerlings will be severely impoverished. The reluctant conclusion is that salmon-safe herbicides are necessary to eradicate knotweed before replanting natives to restore salmon habitat.
One-third of the world's topsoil has been lost to erosion since the agricultural revolution, mostly from tilling and over-grazing steep slopes to feed growing populations. Preserving remaining soils is a natural security issue, and cover cropping, no-till, and manuring methods of organic farming will play a large roll in the solution.
However, careful applications of herbicides on steep slopes are a key tool to avoid soil disturbance that causes erosion, necessary to remove aggressive, habitat-destroying introduced species (English ivy, Scot's broom, Butterfly bush). Soil disturbance from manual grubbing exacerbates stormwater runoff that is more toxic than herbicide, affecting salmon, orcas, and all of the Salish Sea. Tainted stormwater runoff comes mostly from air pollution, plus toxins from roads, pet feces, and chemical lawn care.
Garden Cycles' licensed applicators are contracted by city and county municipalities to carefully apply herbicide to invasive plants, helping restore native plant communities on public lands. Ecosystem managers responsible for large acreages must be concerned with cost-efficiency to remove invasives given limited budgets and exponentially-spreading holly, for example. It would be the height of government incompetence to drive crews out to remote sites to ineffectively uproots plants that only grow back, damaging soils and causing pollution more carcinogenic than herbicide, according to recent World Health Organization reports. Government agencies tasked with protecting environmental and human health have no practical options but to maintain healthy forests with judicious use of herbicide, with oversight from the Dept. of Ecology, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, and Dept. of Agriculture.
The unnecessary tragedy of forest restoration is that, even after careful and thorough herbicide applications to preserve bio-diversity, forests are continually re-infested by invasive seeds sources from neighboring private lands. Please consider policy suggestion to address invasive "seed rain."
In restoration, herbicides are a tool intended to be once or twice applied for site preparation before planting weed-resistant native vegetation. Restoration practitioners commissioned to use herbicide are keen to know the health and environmental risks, so we read the research, take precautions, and share the rationale of why we accept those risks in our public-education website, seedrain.org.
The reasoning is essentially that herbicides are a far lesser evil than invasive monocultures that harm diversity, pollinators, and create conditions in which rodent, insect, and disease outbreaks may be impossible to control, region-wide. Invasive species are ranked second behind habitat destruction as the main causes of species extinctions, so we cannot let introduced species become regionally entrenched.