Clackamas Middle College: Getting Mulch Done at Phillips Creek

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The students with Clackamas Middle College’s Green Team recently had another day of hard work at Phillips Creek. This fall when they first started working at this site on Phillips Creek, one of SOLVE‘s more urban stream sites, students got to work removing hundreds of pounds of litter from the streams as well as removing the invasive Armenian blackberry growing alongside the stream. When winter rolled around, planting season started, and Clackamas Middle College students got several native trees and plants in the ground that was once inhabited by invasive species. Now that spring is right around the corner and planting season is nearly over, it’s time to start maintaining these plants to help them become established in their new home.

This day’s task was therefore mulching the young plants. Students took a full bucket (5 gallons) of mulch (shredded douglas fir), and placed it in a ring around each young plant. This thick layer of organic matter does a lot to help get the young plants become successful residents of Phillips Creek. First of all, it will prevent any non-native “weeds” like reed canary grass from growing right next to the mulched native plant, preventing the weeds from stealing any nutrients, sunlight, or water and generally out competing the native. The mulch also will protect these plants and their shallow young roots from drying out in the summer when the soil dries out (which is hard to imagine this time of year).

While mulching endeavors were going on, the last 20 or so plants for this site were planted. Students also helped out with the daunting task of moving the small mountain of mulch that was delivered onto the restoration site and off of the UHaul property, who were nice enough to let us use a small part of their parking lot to store mulch for a few days. In only 2 hours they moved several yards of the stuff, very impressive!

Thanks for your hard work, Clackamas Middle College Green Team! These plants are well on their way to becoming established residents of Phillips Creek.

This project is funded by Clackamas County Water Environment Services.

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