First, East County Citizens Alliance volunteers started picking up litter from state Highway 14 between Camas and Washougal. Then, they “adopted” the stretch of road through the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
And now, the Washougal-based nonprofit organization is preparing its next highway project, which promises to be bigger — and more colorful — than ever.
The alliance is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation Southwest Region to bring a 4,000-square-foot wildflower bed to the north side of the highway between the traffic roundabouts at Washougal River Road and 32nd Street in Washougal.
“When we went through the process with (WSDOT) of adopting the highway, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could plant flowers, as well?’” said project coordinator Barb Seaman. “Part of the thinking is that we’ve spent so much time out there picking up trash, and if it looked a little nicer, maybe people would think twice about throwing their garbage out.”
Volunteers will begin to prepare the soil in April and plant seeds in the fall, and have hopes of seeing flowers bloom by the spring of 2024.
“It would be great to have something that looks beautiful and makes people feel good as they’re driving through Washougal,” Seaman said. “(We’d also like) to encourage the pollinators and the bees and the little insects that live in those kinds of plants and feed off of those kinds of plants.”
Seaman and ECCA founder Melanie Wilson have worked with a WSDOT landscaping official for several months to select the size and location of the bed, soil preparation methods (solarization and shallow cultivation), and species of native flowers to plant.
The alliance has budgeted $2,700 for the project and recently received a $1,400 grant from the Camas-Washougal Community Chest.
“We’ve written another small grant, maybe we’ll get that,” Wilson said. “But we really believe that there’s so much support in the community for this that if we needed to raise money directly from folks to get this done, I don’t think we’d have a hard time.”