Earth Day of Service for Lake Oswego Junior High

Thirty energetic students from Lake Oswego Junior High joined us today with science teacher, Greg Mylet, at Carter Creek for a morning of community service honoring Earth Day.  Miles(SOLV) taught students all about why community volunteers have worked so hard to plant native trees and shrubs at Carter Creek, providing enhanced habitat and better water quality.  Students protected those new plantings with a fresh layer of Douglas Fir mulch.

Mulching our plantings is a critical part of the restoration process.  The mulch mimics growing conditions in a healthy riparian forest.  A healthy forest has a natural layer of ‘mulch’ (leaf litter and decaying organics, or duff layer) that provides a protective covering for immature plants.

From the Australian Native Plants Society (applicable to the Pacific Northwest too):

Advantages of mulch

  • An effective and safe way to reduce weeds.
  • Reduces evaporation resulting in less watering.
  • Keeps soil temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Using organic mulches, results in the soil benefiting from addition of nutrients as the mulch decomposes. This helps create good soil structure as it greatly increases the biological activity in the soil (especially earth worms and other beneficial microbes).
  • Protects the soil surface from the compacting effect of rain.
  • Organic mulch decomposes over time and this benefits the soil by the addition of nutrients, especially nitrogen
Students also got a chance to see what’s living in the creek by sampling for macroinvertebrates.  Meghan(SOLV) with assistance from Leah(Wilson High School job shadow volunteer) taught students all about how the presence or absence of certain species of aquatic insects in Carter Creek can indicate how healthy the stream is.  Students found aquatic earthworms, mayflies, snails, crayfish and a sculpin!
Thank you Lake Oswego Junior High and Leah for helping out at Carter Creek!

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