April Showers Show Erosion Powers at Abernethy

Despite the record-breaking spring rains Portland has been experiencing in the past few months, our Green Teams have been hard at work: braving soggy ground, soaking pants, and muddy gloves. The work that the Green Teams do become especially important and relevant during these times when creeks, streams, and rivers swell up, the water in waterways is at a higher velocity, and the ground becomes saturated, heavy, and slippery: all of these things contribute to be the perfect storm for severe stream bank erosion. Times like these are when we can see the successes of our past work and look at things that we need to do further work on in the future. It’s an exciting time to be out in the field!

The West Linn Green Teams came out in full force this past week at Abernethy Creek in Oregon City. Students planted the last 50 plants that will go into the ground this season as well as did some much-needed maintenance on all the plants they had planted this planting season: coffee-bagging, mulching, and beaver caging. The several hundred native plants that West Linn and other Green Teams have planted at Abernethy creek in the past season will greatly improve the watershed: among other benefits, their deep and intricate root systems will hold onto the soil and banks and prevent the stream from becoming fully loaded with sediment. This can build up and choke waterways, contribute to heat pollution, and clog the gills of aquatic animals. The young plants are very susceptible to drying out, being overtaken by invasive plants, and becoming a nice snack for the healthy beaver population living at Abernethy during their first few years in the ground. Therefore we can’t just plant the plants and call it a day; the maintenance work that West Linn did this week is important that the plants will grow up to become well established and beneficial members of the Abernethy watershed.

The urgency of the work West Linn did this week was especially evident as a large section of the bank near where they were working was in the process of falling into the high waters of Abernethy. When they arrived, a huge fissure was seen in the ground, and on the second day, a large foot-wide section of the bank, which students (and writers of this blog) had been standing on the day before, had fallen into the stream overnight. We look forward to the future as these plants grow and thrive and become important members of the Abernethy riparian ecosystem, preventing severe erosion events such as these from happening, all thanks to the hard work of the West Linn Green Teams.

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