Happy Belated Earth Day Rock Creek!

A brand new trimester of energetic students from Rock Creek Middle School joined us today at Rock Creek.  Charlie(SOLVE) taught students all about why past students and community volunteers have worked so hard to plant native trees and shrubs along the creek, providing enhanced habitat and better water quality.  Students protected those new plantings with a fresh layer of Douglas Fir mulch.

Mulching our plantings is a critical part of the restoration process.  The mulch mimics growing conditions in a healthy riparian forest.  A healthy forest has a natural layer of ‘mulch’ (leaf litter and decaying organics, or duff layer) that provides a protective covering for immature plants.

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS SOCIETY (APPLICABLE TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TOO):

ADVANTAGES OF MULCH

  • An effective and safe way to reduce weeds.
  • Reduces evaporation resulting in less watering.
  • Keeps soil temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Using organic mulches, results in the soil benefiting from addition of nutrients as the mulch decomposes. This helps create good soil structure as it greatly increases the biological activity in the soil (especially earth worms and other beneficial microbes).
  • Protects the soil surface from the compacting effect of rain.
  • Organic mulch decomposes over time and this benefits the soil by the addition of nutrients, especially nitrogen
Students also got a chance to critically think about all the benefits of a healthy riparian corridor by playing a Riparian Metaphors game.  Students partnered up and pulled out objects from a bag then worked together to think how that object represents a healthy riparian cooridor.
Some objects –
A piggy bank with leaves sticking out – Healthy riparian zones have vegetated banks!
A sponge – Healthy riparian zones act as a sponge for polluted stormwater.
A camo shirt – Healthy riparian zones can offer cover for animal escaping from predators
Thank you Rock Creek Middle School!
Thank you Clackamas County Water Environment Services for funding this project!

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