Taking a walk on the wild side

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Americorps member Nicole Poletto

Reynolds HS @ Beaver Creek on 4.9.2013

Today was Reynolds High School’s last outing of the year to Beaver Creek!  Throughout the year, students visited with their AP Environmental Science class and stayed after-school to steward the creek.  This was their 7th time to the site since the beginning of November!

We kicked off the afternoon by conducting a salamander survey.  Salamanders like to live in very moist soil, so we walked through the riparian zone overturning rocks and logs looking for hiding salamanders.  Unfortunately, we had no luck – but no results are also results!  As we continue to restore Beaver Creek we will continue to provide habitat for these creatures!

Since the students were already pro’s at planting, we quickly planted 30 Douglas Fir and Cedar trees.  All of these trees will grow tall and provide shade for Beaver Creek!  After we planted, we continued our walking tour but instead of focusing on salamanders, we focused on native plants and birds!  On our walk, we discussed the Ethnobotany of our native plants, like Oregon Grape!  It is our state flower and is anti-microbial.  If you have a cold or a cough you can crush up the leaves and stem of the plant into a tea and it will make you feel better.  We also continually stopped to identify the myriad of bird calls occurring all around us!  We also saw a baby invasive Nutria (or swamp rat) swimming along in the creek.  Wildlife is all around us, all you have to do is pay attention!

Students took the same test that they took in the beginning of the year to see how much they had learned through their SOLVE stewardship.  Here are the results:

Pre-test: 4.42/19

Post-test: 11.5/19

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It looks like we made a world of difference at Beaver Creek.

Thank you Reynolds High School for dedicating your evenings to making sure our watershed remains healthier for generations to come!

Reynolds HS promotes stream health!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Reynolds HS @ Beaver Creek on 3.5.2013

It was yet another rainy, windy day in Troutdale, but that has never stopped Reynolds students from stewarding Beaver Creek!  We kicked off the afternoon with beaver caging (no, we aren’t building cages to attempt to trap beaver…).  The reason that we cage our native plants (especially the baby ones) is to protect them from beaver damage before they are mature enough.

Not only our trees need to be protected from beaver damage...

Not only our trees need to be protected from beaver damage…

After we caged 25 plants, we changed gears and started bioengineering!  We prepared 20 live Pacific Willow stakes and installed them in the bog area, a very sensitive and important habitat for amphibians.  These stakes will grow roots, just like hair, and hold the soil in place while simultaneously providing shade!

Not only did we get a lot of work done, but we also had a lot of fun!  We munched on Indian plum and collected 2 tires that were in the creek!

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Thank you Reynolds HS for your dedication – see you for our next AND last outing at Beaver Creek in April!

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SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Beaver Creek’s very own Glen Otto Park on March 23rd from 9 AM – 1 PM.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science?  Come learn more and chat with mentors currently in the science field!  We will also be planting more native trees and shrubs in the same area that Reynolds is stewarding!  Come and check it out!  Register online at : http://www.solv.org/get-involved/events/women-science-day

Giving Life to Beaver Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, Nicole Poletto

Reynolds High School @ Beaver Creek on 2.5.2013

After a restful winter break, Reynolds High School was geared up and ready to tackle another day of battling blackberry and planting natives.  After we refreshed our memory on how to identify native plants we began a two-pronged attack!! We dug out as many roots as possible and replaced them with native trees.

We began by planting Western Red Cedar, known as the tree of life for its healing and spiritual powers.  The power of the Red Cedar tree was said to be so strong a person could receive strength by standing with their back to the tree.  We filled Beaver Creek not only with Red Cedars that day, but also Big Leaf Maple and Douglas Fir.  27 trees later, it was time to call it a day.

Thanks for all of your dedication Reynolds!

SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Beaver Creek’s very own Glen Otto Park on March 23rd from 9-1.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science?  Come learn more and chat with mentors currently in the science field!  We will also be planting more native trees and shrubs in the same area that Reynolds is stewarding!  Come and check it out!

Register online at : http://www.solv.org/get-involved/events/women-science-day

The Planting Olympics

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto with Photos by Nicole Poletto and Kim Wilson

Reynolds High School @ Beaver Creek on 12.5.2012

The dedicated students from Reynolds High School came to Beaver Creek for some after school planting.  However, it was not your ordinary day.  It was a day that will forever be known in history as the Planting Olympics.

There were the classic events: Who can remember the most native plant species, plant the most plants, and do the best job untangling the roots (especially Salmonberry roots)?

The Salmonberry roots were the most difficult to untangle!  Luckily we had some resident professionals.

The Salmonberry roots were the most difficult to untangle! Luckily we had some resident professionals.

There were also the less common events: Who can carry the most plants (and people) in the assembly line down the hill?

And people to the site

Who can do the best joust with a shovel and a friend?

13

Who has the best shovel dance moves (with lots of space for safety)?

15

Reynolds deserves a Gold medal for all of their hard work.  The only thing that stopped us was the setting sun (because it is unfortunately rather difficult to plant in the dark).

The champions of Beaver Creek

The 5 teams of the Planting Olympics come together for a group shot.  A gold medal-winning bunch!

We planted 34 plants and had absolutely no fun at all….

A big thank you to The Boeing Company for sponsoring their efforts! See you guys after the break, Reynolds!

The All-stars of Beaver Creek

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Written by Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Reynolds High School @ Rock Creek on 11.6.12

Three students taking AP Environmental Science at Reynolds High School dedicated their Tuesday evening to improving the health of the riparian zone! (It totally beats doing homework).  We focused on planting natives in an area that had been overtaken by invasive Reed Canary grass.  The only way to get rid of Reed Canary grass is with shade.  Therefore, we planted trees such as Alder, Red Osier Dogwood, and Elderberry that would grow tall and shade out the invasive.  Despite the group’s small number, we still planted 14 trees!  Very impressive.

We also had a potential salmon sighting! The fish swam excitedly up and down the stream, cheering us on.  It was hard to identify the fish at dusk, but we have had salmon in Rock Creek further downstream.  Perhaps they really enjoy the 40 snags that SOLVE placed in Beaver Creek last month!

Thanks Reynolds! We appreciate you dedicating your time afterschool to make our watershed healthier.  See you next month!

Reynolds High School goes above and beyond at Beaver Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest Member Nicole Poletto

Reynolds High School @ Beaver Creek 10/29/2012

This week a devoted afterschool group of AP Environmental Science students from Reynolds High came out to Beaver Creek to make it healthy and learn at the same time!  We kicked the afternoon off with Riparian metaphors, reviewing aspects of a healthy riparian zone. (Clue: Riparian = “bank side” in Latin.)  There were awesome metaphors for objects such as sponges, piggy banks, and ice cube trays.

It was soon time for invasive removal!  Armenian Blackberry had taken over the stream bank and it was up to us to dig out the roots to make sure that it didn’t come back.  Invasive species like Blackberry have simpler root structures so they can cause a lot of erosion.  Invasives create monocultures, destroying habitat and the shade for the creek, thus warming the water.  The students were inspired by all of these reasons to get rid of Blackberry, especially so that we could plant natives there!

The wildlife of the area did not go unnoticed.  We checked for animal tracks and watched a Blue Heron majestically fly over the creek.  All in all, it was a beautiful day to be outside.  Thanks so much for coming out Reynolds! We are inspired by your dedication to stewarding our environment.

Up next week: Native plant ID and Native planting, stay tuned!!

Snacking on the Job With Reynolds High School

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On Friday students from Reynolds High School’s after-school outdoor club came out to Beaver Creek for their very last time this year. Since these students have been such hard workers in frequently less-than-desirable weather, we decided to spend most of the beautiful sunny day actually exploring the creek we have been working on for the whole year.

While some students were looking to see what kinds of macroinvertebrates and minnows they could find in the creek, others spent some time looking in the fresh mud for any kinds of animal tracks. They found a few raccoon tracks and one suspiciously large dog-like track (unfortunately this was not a sign that wolves have returned back to western Oregon, but was probably a track from the black lab that lived nearby), and they mixed up some plaster of paris and made some pretty awesome casts of the tracks.

We then all went on a pleasant short hike to look at all of the recent spring growth and learn about the local flora. Reynolds teacher, Ms. Wilson, taught us all about the shrubs, forbes, trees, and grasses we came across including their ethnobotany. As a large percentage of the plants she pointed out were edible, what started as a short hike quickly turned into a deliciously wild salad bar. Plants we nibbled included: Indian Plum (aka Osoberry), miner’s lettuce, stinging nettle (yummy AND thrilling), garlic mustard (good to eat, especially since its horribly invasive), licorice fern root, and Salmonberry flower petals (note we would only pull off the petals of the flower to eat, the rest we left to develop into a berry). In sampling all of these wild edibles, we made sure to be careful not to overindulge and take too much from the native plants so we didn’t injure them or negatively affect their numbers.

In thanks to the earth for its nurturing meal, we ended the visit to Beaver Creek by planting some plants along the stream bank. The indian plum, salmonberry, and elderberry we planted will hopefully grow into nicely tall plants that will not only positively influence the watershed but also be a source of food for animals, including future SOLVE Green Team explorers!