Willow Creek was a buzz of activity this week with Deer Park students planting on Tuesday and 60 students from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School visiting the site on Wednesday.
Rachel Carson students installed coffee bags around native plants and shrubs along the creek after removing old and new-growth of invasive reed canary grass. These coffee bags will biodegrade in a short time, but allows the plant to get a head start without pesky weeds and invasives competing for light and space. After maintaining existing plants, students harvested willow cuttings from the site and installed live stakes along the stream to eventually provide soil stabilization and shade.
Students also helped tweak our native turtle habitat that we will be working on for the next year or so; biologists from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been really helpful in directing our building efforts of this habitat. We hope that within coming years, native western pond and western painted turtles will live and lay their eggs at the site.
Though we haven’t seen any turtles yet, wildlife was out and about at Willow Creek this week! Students saw a large blue heron, mallards, garter snakes, Pacific tree frogs and even a nest of native gray tailed vole babies! From the Smithsonian website:
One of several voles with very small ranges, Gray-tailed Voles live only in lower-elevation grasslands. They do well in agricultural areas. They are excellent swimmers and can often escape flooding that way.
Students used great care when they discovered the nest and were able to observe four voles out and about in their nest. Check out this OPB video about “vole holes!”