Guitarist Stone Gossard demonstrated Saturday that he is almost as good at getting down and dirty pulling roots as playing riffs with the mega-group Pearl Jam, turning out for a band-funded reforestation project at Kirkland's Crestwoods Park.
Pearl Jam donated money in 2010 for the reforestation of 33 acres in King County as an effort to mitigate the emissions from travel during its 2009 world tour -- calculated at some 5,474 metric tons of carbon dioxide. On Saturday, almost 100 volunteers helped remove invasive plants from an eight-acre portion of Crestwoods Park, then replanted the area with native conifers.
Seattle-native Gossard, 45, a founding member of Pearl Jam and previously a member of the highly regarded local bands Green River and Mother Love Bone, showed up with his dog Bassey to help out.
"I guess our understanding is that global warming is a reality, and the impact of business on climate change is going to be a big thing to grapple with in the future," he explained. "So we're trying to set an example, saying this is the cost of doing business and this is something you should do, like paying for your garbage to be hauled away."
Gossard didn't just make an appearance -- he actually worked with all the other volunteers. He said he shows up at the reforestation events whenever he can, including events at Colman Park near his home in Seattle and Discovery Park.
"I learned how much carbon is stored in western red cedar, and it seemed like an efficient way to put something back into the environment," Gossard said, explaining how native conifers absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and release oxygen. "I hope this works out and I hope other businesses do things like this."
Gossard said Pearl Jam is planning a European tour this summer and is also in the formative stages of creating a new album. "We're not sure what it's going to be yet," he added with an easy smile.
Sharon Rodman, environmental education specialist with , said Crestwood Park's forest was perfect for the Pearl Jam reforestation effort, which is being coordinated by the conservation group Forterra (formerly Cascade Land Conservancy). Forterra coordinates volunteer work at many of Kirkland's parks through the Green Kirkland Partnership.
"If you look around, you don't see many conifers here," she noted. "It's all alder and maple. There should be conifers here. That's because of the (non-native) blackberries. In 20 years there wouldn't be any conifers. Historically it was logged, and it is only the deciduous hardwoods that have come back."
Jennifer Schroeder, Kirkland Parks director, also showed up and worked, thanking Gossard for his and the band's participation. "Thank you so much," she told him. "We're very appreciative of your efforts."
Gossard replied, "We'd like to do more. Very few businesses do anything like this."
A lot of work was accomplished, but it appeared every minute was enjoyed by the volunteers, which included lots of kids and teens, neighbors and at least two members of the Kirkland Park Board.
"It's such a wonderful program for the community," said Rodman.