Follow the Flagging Tape Road…

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Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the flagging tape road… Down to Glencoe High School’s awesome restoration work!  It has been no easy journey through the land of McKay creek but with the prospect of emerald colored plants, muddy ruby boots, and knowing theres no place like home for all of our new native trees and shrubs, Glencoe high school has prevailed.

December 8th and 9th were not particularly warm days out in Hillsboro but that didn’t stop our students from getting to work to restore McKay creek.

Removing the Armenian Blackberry became a great priority this last week because we want to be sure to get it out before Spring comes.  During Spring, its possible that birds will build nests and other organisms might call that patch of blackberry home and we do not want to disturb their nests by removing the blackberry then.  Students heard our early deadline and stepped it up to remove most of the hillside that was once covered in Armenian Blackberry.

Meanwhile, students traveled into the mucky wetland to plant willow trees, Red Alders, and do some bioengineering with Willow and Red Twig Dogwood! We learned that Red Alders fix nitrogen through a bacteria in the genus Frankia, which grows symbiotically on Red Alder roots.  It takes Nitrogen that would otherwise be in the atmosphere into ammonia, in a process called nitrogen fixation.  Further, we learned that when we cut a branch of a mature willow or dogwood tree, we can stick it in the ground and a whole new tree will grow from that.  We increased density of plants in our wetlands with such stakes.  We can’t wait to see what the area will look like next year with all of our new plantings!

Lastly, we bioengineered the slope near the track with cottonwood stakes, and threw straw and a native grass seed to prevent erosion from happening.  While the Armenian Blackberry was causing some serious erosion along the slope, our new stakes, straw and seed should hold the soil in much better.  We can’t wait for our plants to grow up and really stabilize our slope!

All in all, we made some vast strides towards our journey to the Emerald City of restoration at Glencoe High School.  We look forward to working and learning more in the new year!!

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