Some very dedicated students from Reynolds High School came out this month to Beaver Creek in Troutdale to help improve its riparian habitat. Not only was this an after school event and not only was it on a Friday, but it was also pouring rain when the students arrived to the site. I suppose we at SOLVE shouldn’t be surprised as this is the kind of dedication and enthusiasm shown by Reynolds High School students, but we were nevertheless impressed.
The task at hand was to create and place out willow stakes, and they enthusiastically got right to work. Willow and other trees that prefer to grow right along river and stream banks have a unique adaptation to dealing with floods (as rivers and streams have the tendency to do). When a willow tree gets pulled up in a flood and washes downstream, if any part of the tree is buried in debris, it starts growing roots, leaf out and continue to grow as a tree. This is important in the world of stream ecology as we take advantage of this in order to propagate new willow trees at our restoration sites. Willow have a nice, quick-growing matrix of roots which hold onto soil and sediment, preventing erosion. They also grow very quickly and their leaves out-shade invasive plant species (such as reed canary grass) and keep the water in the creek cool.
In order to propagate these new trees, Reynolds students took freshly harvested willow branches, cut them into 2-3 foot long stakes, then malleted them in a particularly at-risk stream bank section. Each willow stake will grow into a new tree providing many benefits for the Beaver Creek riparian community. In only an hour and a half, in the pouring rain, they inserted over 150 willow stakes! Thanks to these dedicated students, Beaver Creek will have several new native inhabitants.