Your mission is to identify and count the different sites where animals can make their homes. Send us the number and types of habitats you find. Remember to look high and low!
Wonderwood Park is a 39 acre hidden gem of older second growth forest in the center of the City of Lacey.
The trail meanders through a mix of hardwood and conifer forest offering essential habitat for local wildlife in a developed urban setting.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
There are four separate pedestrian and vehicular entrances to the park, including Sunset Drive SE at the NW corner, Brentwood Drive SE on the east side, and Stikes Drive SE/32nd Avenue SE on the south side.
This forest is a mix of conifer and deciduous species.
What’s the difference between conifer and deciduous? Deciduous trees have leaves that turn color and drop in the fall. These trees produce seeds that germinate to make tiny new tree seedlings. Two dominate deciduous or hardwood trees that can be found are red alder and big-leaf maple . Can you identify them?
Conifers are referred to as evergreens, which are trees and plants where leaves remain green all year long. Conifers have needles instead of leaves and mostly they do not change color or fall. Their seeds are in cones that germinate into tiny seedlings and the cones provide food for many wildlife species. Conifers you can see along the trail include Western red cedar and Douglas fir. Can you see the difference in their needles and bark?
Who do you think eats the seeds from the tree cones?
Look for Black capped chickadees. Black capped chickadees will hide seeds to eat later and can remember 1000’s of hiding places.
The Forests of the Pacific Northwest
The forests of the Pacific Northwest are unique and stretch for more than 2,500 miles along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California. The Pacific Northwest region is also known as the bioregion, Cascadia – the land of falling waters.
The forests of this bioregion are made up of similar features that include mountain ranges and similar communities of plants and animals which make up an ecosystem .
The forests of this bioregion are dominated by Douglas firs, western hemlock and in parts, western red cedar. In areas where there have been no human alterations, the trees that make up this region are giant and old, living 350-750 years and even over 1,000 years!
A healthy forest includes layers of vegetation from the forest floor to the tree canopy in the sky.
Venture along the forest trail and see how many layers you can detect!
Look for and identify the middle layer of shrubs and name one of the plants:
Trees and other plants have three sections that make up the plant; roots, stems (or trunks) and leaves. Each has a specific function for the plant to live. To learn more, visit https://treescharlotte.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/How-A-Tree-Works.pdf for how a tree works.
As trees age, the inner most part of their trunk may rot (called heartwood) and become hollow. Limbs may fall, treetops may bust off, leaving cavities or holes in the tree. These cavities or holes provide homes for many animals.
How many hidey holes or cavities can you find along the way? Remember to submit your answers to complete the mission!
Washington state has 11 different types of woodpeckers.
Woodpeckers make large holes in trees as they scout for insects to eat. These holes can become cavities (holes) that can be used by smaller birds for nesting, like the black capped chickadee!
Have you seen any evidence of woodpeckers?
What is dead or dying but provides a nursery for new plants and trees? Nurse stumps or nurse logs!
Many of the old stumps seen along the way are relicts left from bygone logging. These nurse stumps and logs provide a rich, fertile place for new seedlings to grow.
What else grows on decaying wood? Fungi!
Shelf or bracket fungus can be found on many dead or dying trees and dead logs.
Have you seen any?
When a species colonizes, or takes over a new area where it is not naturally from it is considered to be an invader. This is true for plants and animals.
Invasive plants are fast growing, produce large quantities of seeds and spread widely or are pervasive. They are able to out-compete the slower growing native plants.
For invasive weed resources visit:
- https://kingcounty.gov/services/environment/animals-and-plants/noxious-weeds/weed-identification.aspx (weed identification photos)
To learn how to manage invasive weeds at home, visit https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/phssdocuments/weeds-June%202021-web.pdf.
Other Evergreen and Deciduous Plants
Can you find another evergreen plant that is not a tree?
I have small tough, glossy leaves that stay green all year long, even in winter. In spring I have pinkish- white bell-shaped flowers that turn into small dark berries in summer. Birds love to eat my fruit! What am I? Evergreen huckleberry!
My cousin plant is deciduous, losing its soft green leaves in fall. In late spring this plant has small red berries which are also yummy to birds and other wildlife. Who am I? Red huckleberry!
Can you find me? I can often be found growing out of the top of a nurse stump!
Pacific Northwest Temperate Rainforest Ancient Plants
Living in a temperate rainforest we have many small ancient plants that make up their own special ecosystem. What are they? Moss!
Mosses are non-flowering plants that do not have a true root. They have stems and reproduce by spores. Mosses typically form green clumps growing on trees, rocks and the ground, wherever it is moist and shady.
We have 100’s of different moss species in our forests, see how many different kinds of moss you can find!
The Importance of Urban Forests
Can you think of three things urban trees and forests provide?
Here are just a few examples!
- They provide fresh air! Trees provide oxygen, help filter our air and reduce carbon.
- They keep our air cool and filter pollutants.
- They provide habitat. Forests provide food and shelter for many birds, insects and other animals.
- They add beauty and improve our health and wellbeing. Forests, trees and plants improve human health.
You have completed your mission to identify and count the different sites where animals can make their homes! Don’t forget to login to the Goose Chase App and submit your findings for this mission to collect your park specific sticker!