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Couple leads charge in war on weeds at Bremerton's Lions Park

Rick and Ruth Richtmeyer stroll along the waterfront at Lions Park. The couple started an Adopt-a-Beach program to fight off invasive weeds so native species can thrive. - Kevan Moore/staff photo
Rick and Ruth Richtmeyer stroll along the waterfront at Lions Park. The couple started an Adopt-a-Beach program to fight off invasive weeds so native species can thrive.
— image credit: Kevan Moore/staff photo

Rick and Ruth Richtmeyer have been a godsend to the Bremerton Parks Department.

The couple, who live in the condos overlooking Lions Park, has worked tirelessly for close to three years to eradicate invasive plants from the 1,700 feet of shoreline along the Port Washington Narrows.

“Their work has allowed the native plants installed by parks department as part of the $2 million Lions Park redevelopment project to thrive,” said Bremerton Parks Director Wyn Birkenthal.

The Richtmeyers started an Adopt-a-Beach program by creating 35 lots, spaced out every 50 feet or so, between the pathway and the beach. Now, different folks or groups can take on weed control in a particular lot and prevent invasive species from outpacing native ones.

“After it opened a few years ago, the weeds just got higher and higher, about knee high, and (Ruth) said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this,’” said Richard.

So, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

“We would go and work a little bit and people would ask if they could help,” Richard said.

That’s when the Richtmeyers decided to make a brochure and create the small, manageable lots. With more than 250 grasses, approximately 1,200 shrubs and more than 50 trees, it made sense to break down the beachfront into smaller lots to win an ongoing war with the weeds.

“We have no idea where it came from,” said Richard. “It just sort of evolved, kind of like the Adopt-a-Highway program. It was not planned. It just happened. If everybody does a little bit, we can keep up with it. You need somebody pecking away at them all year, though. The kind of guys and gals that we’re getting are just really steady, nice people. We’re just getting started, but the prospects look good. People really care about their parks.”

And with the arrival of spring, the Richtmeyers and all of the other volunteers with beach lots at Lions Park, are sure to be busy. Right now, there’s just some grasses and pineapple weed in the lots, but that will change soon.

“Catsear is a bad one,” Richard said. “It grows about a foot high and puts out a whole lot of flowers. Wild carrot is sneaky because you don’t see much of it above-ground when it’s little. Over the years, it’s been clover that’s a real pain.”

Ruth is a lifelong gardener, so the “work” never really felt like work. Lot 5 is one that she keeps a particularly close eye on. When she first started, it was covered in clover, but not anymore. With a little help from the parks department, she says volunteers will have a leg up this year.

“We’re in a lot better shape this year than we were last year because we’ve gotten more rock for drainage and some more beauty bark,” Ruth said. “Every little bit helps.”

The Richtmeyers’ motto this year is, “No weed goes to seed.” In all, they take care of four different lots at opposite ends of the park.

“We’d be willing to give them up if somebody begs us,” Rick said.

Those that are interested in adopting a lot at Lions Park contact the Richtmeyers directly by calling 360-373-0282.

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