On Wednesday morning, a pack of 30 6th-graders from the Madeleine School in Northeast Portland descended upon Baltimore Woods. Baltimore Woods is part of a collaboration with the City of Portland BES to improve the Oak Savannah habitat along the Willamette River in Portland. This site is a very important buffer zone between the urbanized areas upland and the river itself. Ideally this habitat should have nice tall oak trees with a biodiverse understory of native shrubs. This provides shade, soil stabilization, and a natural filtering system for water flowing down into the river. Rather, the plants actually present read like a comprehensive “Oregon’s Most Wanted” list of invasive species: Armenian blackberry, deadly nightshade, clematis, english ivy, fireweed, cherry, english holly, etc.
When the Madeleine students arrived, a lot of work was needed to plant some native plants in a recently cleared lot, and to coffee-bag and mulch them so that these native plants have the upper hand in competing with the invasives. They brought a ton of energy with them and got way more work done than we would have with a group of 30 adults! Some students even took it upon themselves to adopt some of these plants, giving them names, and sending them to grow with a blessing after they were planted. Madeleine School students also had a conversation on why it is important to be doing this kind of work and why a healthy riparian zone is important for Oregon’s overall ecology with the Riparian Metaphors activity.
The Madeleine School 6th graders were a wonderful group to work with and it was obvious they had as much fun as we did. We hope to see you come back to this site sometime soon!