SEATTLE — An effort to remove invasive plants at the Port of Seattle is helping grow jobs.
The Port Commission just voted to expand the program, which provides valuable training for teens and young adults, while cleaning up the shoreline.
One recent morning, a team of workers pulled weeds and snipped thick vines as part of a project to transform parts of the Port of Seattle from a thick tangle of invasive plants to a tidy shoreline with native species and sweeping skyline views.
The work is good for the ecosystem, but it's also providing pathways to careers.
A group from Dirt Corps, a paid job-training program, is learning how to restore ecosystems, build gardens, and design green spaces that filter rain run-off.
“Some of our folks have gone on to start their own rain-wise landscaping companies, other folks have joined other landscaping groups, a lot of folks have gone on to environmental non-profits,” said Andrew Schiffer with Dirt Corps.
The Port of Seattle Commission voted Tuesday to expand the program from a temporary effort to a long-term one, meant to restore the Duwamish River while engaging neighbors who told commissioners they want access to some of the port's economic benefits.
Although the restored coastline looks tranquil, it is still part of a busy, working terminal, which will get even busier when the port makes more than $300 million of improvements to Terminal 5 so it can handle the world's largest container ships.
“We can have an important working marine terminal and have restoration work right here on the shoreline, and we can balance both. It doesn't have to be one or the other,” said Stephanie Bowman, President of the Port of Seattle Commission.
Once school lets out for the summer, teens from the Duwamish Valley will pull on boots and gloves and join the work teams, planting seeds for future careers.
The port started building the Duwamish jobs program in 2016 with the help of an EPA grant.