The True Oregonians: Forest Grove High School

Many a time during our wintery mix of weather out at Gales Creek, students said, “It’s alright, it’s just rain… we live in Oregon!” It was completing humbling and encouraging to see students, brand new to their creek, take on so much dedication and passion for this stream restoration project.

Students reviewed concepts of a watershed when they first arrived- recalling how native trees and shrubs help stablize banks, create shade to make our streams cooler and full of more oxygen, and filter pollutants from getting into the stream. We reviewed the definition of an invasive species and named a few we have on site like Reed Canary Grass, Evergreen Blackberry, and Armenian Blackberry.

Students began planting native trees and shrubs around the site. Students learned we had a few really successful, bright yellow Pacific Willow trees on site so we planted even more of those. We also went on a plant identification walk and talked about the various species of trees and shrubs on site (Hazelnut, Big Leaf Maple, Dogwood, Oregon Ash, etc.) We found catkins, the male plant part, on hazelnut trees, learned about the difference between opposite and alternate leaf arrangements by looking at an Oreon Ash, and found a unique symbiotic relationship on the roots of a Douglas Fir Tree. We talked about the mycorrhiza fungus on plant roots and the mutualistic relationship it has with conifer trees, helping them extend their roots while they eat the carbohydrates in the roots. Here is a picture of the fungus on roots.

We took a break for hot chocolate and tea to attempt to warm up slightly during the very cold outing.

Next, we bioengineered Willow stakes out of live cuttings from developed Pacific and Schoolers Willow on site. We were impressed to find out students were already well versed in the methods and science of how this occurs! Students made about 40 of these and installed them throughout the site. While we were installing our stakes, we made friends with a Rough Skinned Newt who happened to peek out to say hello! The newt we saw was a breeding adult male. Rough Skinned Newts appear slightly different depending on their gender, phase of life, and behavioral processes. Check it out!

Lastly we played a quick game where we learned one of our classmates had a master tracking skill we never knew about before 🙂

Despite the dreary day, students perservered with incredibly positive and inspiring attitudes. This is surely the start of a great thing. Thanks, Forest Grove High School!

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