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Greenhouse dedicated to ONP employee

If only he could have lived to see it.

Park, county and tribal officials gathered the morning of Oct. 22 at Robin Hill Park to dedicate the new greenhouse for the Elwha River dams removal project that was named for the late Matt Albright.

Albright died of cancer on July 20, 2007, in Seattle, at the age of 51. He was the park's nursery manager for 19 years and specialized in wilderness revegetation.

He pioneered propagation methods for numerous native Northwest plants, many of which are difficult to grow in greenhouse and nursery settings.

Olympic National Park spokesman Cat Hawkins-Hoffman said Albright began working in the present greenhouse at the park's Port Angeles headquarters, a building that was intended to be temporary.

He worked hard to select the new 5-acre site within Robin Hill Park's pasture management area and it's beyond what she thought ONP ever would have, Hawkins-Hoffman said.

"This will honor his memory and continue his legacy. Matt was one of the most humble and most positive people I've ever known."

The ceremony was attended by three of Albright's five children: Abraham, Margaret and Beth.

Abe said his father was an inspiration.

"He showed me everything about growing plants and now I'm trying to keep them alive. I know he would be tickled that everyone cares so much," he said.

The Matt Albright Native Plant Center is part of a $358,000 complex that includes the greenhouse plus a tool shed, cold frames and nursery beds.

It will grow native vegetation for the more than 600 acres that will be exposed when Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell, the reservoirs behind the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, are drained beginning in 2011.

U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks,

D-Belfair, who was instrumental is getting funding for the $308 million project, couldn't attend Thursday's ceremony. Judith Morris, Dicks' Port Angeles representative, read a letter from him.

She said it in no way completely conveyed Dicks' deep-felt thrill at the completion of another part of the Elwha River dams removal project.

The dedication included speeches by ONP deputy superintendent Sue McGill, Clallam County Commissioner Steve Tharinger and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe River Restoration Director Robert Elofson.

Olympic National Park's native plant propagation program is recognized as being one of the best in the Pacific Northwest.

Since its beginning in 1987, it has produced more than 400,000 native plants for restoring damaged areas throughout the park, including the Seven Lakes Basin, Lake Constance, Hurricane Ridge and several sites along the wilderness coast.



Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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