On Friday students from Reynolds High School’s after-school outdoor club came out to Beaver Creek for their very last time this year. Since these students have been such hard workers in frequently less-than-desirable weather, we decided to spend most of the beautiful sunny day actually exploring the creek we have been working on for the whole year.
While some students were looking to see what kinds of macroinvertebrates and minnows they could find in the creek, others spent some time looking in the fresh mud for any kinds of animal tracks. They found a few raccoon tracks and one suspiciously large dog-like track (unfortunately this was not a sign that wolves have returned back to western Oregon, but was probably a track from the black lab that lived nearby), and they mixed up some plaster of paris and made some pretty awesome casts of the tracks.
We then all went on a pleasant short hike to look at all of the recent spring growth and learn about the local flora. Reynolds teacher, Ms. Wilson, taught us all about the shrubs, forbes, trees, and grasses we came across including their ethnobotany. As a large percentage of the plants she pointed out were edible, what started as a short hike quickly turned into a deliciously wild salad bar. Plants we nibbled included: Indian Plum (aka Osoberry), miner’s lettuce, stinging nettle (yummy AND thrilling), garlic mustard (good to eat, especially since its horribly invasive), licorice fern root, and Salmonberry flower petals (note we would only pull off the petals of the flower to eat, the rest we left to develop into a berry). In sampling all of these wild edibles, we made sure to be careful not to overindulge and take too much from the native plants so we didn’t injure them or negatively affect their numbers.
In thanks to the earth for its nurturing meal, we ended the visit to Beaver Creek by planting some plants along the stream bank. The indian plum, salmonberry, and elderberry we planted will hopefully grow into nicely tall plants that will not only positively influence the watershed but also be a source of food for animals, including future SOLVE Green Team explorers!