Working in a Winter Windyland

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First: a song inspired by Friday’s experience:

Oh the leaves, they’re a-blowin’                                                                               Beaver Creek, she’s a-flowin’                                                                                     When the gusts become great                                                                                          It’s hard to walk straight                                                                                          Working in our winter windyland!

When the 30 seventh and eighth graders from Portland Lutheran School came out to Beaver Creek for their monthly Green Team event, they were treated to some delicious December sunshine. They were also treated to another meteorological phenomenon (and the likely cause of the sunshine), the infamous Columbia Gorge East Winds.

This chilly wind blows from the east when eastern Oregon gets colder than it does here in the west and essentually turns the Columbia Gorge into a winter wind tunnel. The winds dissapate as they hit Portland and the Willamette, but in eastern Portland cities, such as Troutdale, where our Beaver Creek site is located, you can really feel the force of these unique winds. And boy did Portland Lutheran have a windy experience on Friday! But they didn’t come out to Beaver Creek to have personal experiences with gusts, they came to help restore the creek, and braved the burly weather to do so.

Portland Lutheran shrugged off the gale around them and were able to get a lot done. Students created living stakes out of freshly harvested willow branches and pounded them into the bare banks of the creek. They’ve essentually created clones of the willow trees as these stakes will grow into new trees with their roots providing much needed stability for the stream bank and their canopy providing much needed shade for the water. Meanwhile other students were constructing and placing out cages around young recently planted trees at the site. Beaver Creek is aptly named and these cages will protect the young saplings from any large rodents looking for a quick snack, until the trees get large enough to handle a little gnawing. Students also spent some working on a project of mapping out the stream.

Despite the blustery weather, Portland Lutheran students were troopers throughout the day and really got a lot of work done. We at SOLV thank you all for your good humor and hard work, and so does Beaver Creek. Until next time, we’ll be singing:

On the stream bank we can stake some willow                                                            And pretend that they are fully grown                                                                          Look how the big old branches sway and billow                                                           And shade the water flowing down below!

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