Aloha October, Adios Thistle

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Aloha High School @ Butternut Creek 10/03/2012. 

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Members Lauren McKenna.

Last week, Aloha High School seniors meet Butternut Creek: a creek full of potential, yet overrun by invasives and underfed by this recent drought.  When the students in Ms.  Trakselis class arrived, they found thistle, Reed Canary grass, and Armenian blackberry totally choking the native plants that are trying to grow here.

The amount of thistle absolutely coating everything from the thistle plants themselves to all of the native plants.  One student said, “Hey! look at all that cotton everywhere.”  One way to prevent thistle from spreading is to cut off the seed heads from the plant and bag them, as well as collect as much fluffy “thistledown” seeds and bag them, too.

Thistle seeds (aka thistledown) are soft and fluffy looking, but they spread like crazy and grown into horrid spiky plants that crowd out native plants.

Some of students were cutting away at Reed Canary grass, which had grown up and around native shrubs like Ninebark, Douglas spirea and Douglas firs.  Some others bagged thistle and a few cut down and dug up blackberry.  A couple had the job of scaring the girls by showing them spiders near the creek!  There was also a pretty large invasive Horse-chestnut tree right in the middle.  Usually, we are only planting trees, not cutting them down, but a few boys were pretty stoked when asked if they could please chop down a tree!

Overall, a lot of work was done, especially to cut back on the growth of the invasive plants that had happened over the summer and, hopefully, a good time in the good weather.  Thank you Aloha and Ms. Trakselis for your hard work and laughter!

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