Uncovering a Hidden Gem: Gales Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

Forest Grove HS @ Gales Creek 10/6/2012

Last weekend, Forest Gove High School students got up early on a crisp Saturday morning to save the native plants growing around Gales Creek.

Most of the native plants — Pacific and Scoulers Willow (Salix scouleriana, that’s the one with fuzzy under-leaves) and dogwood — were planted by other FGHS students a couple years back and look great except for one thing: Reed Canary grass!  This undesirable bunchgrass grows like crazy and very tall, shading out native plants and smothering them.  It has an extensive seedbank in the soil, so cutting it back and ripping it out does not mean it will not grow back the next year.  Its one enemy, however is shade; so by cutting it back until the native plants get tall enough, we can eventually eliminate this tough-cookie of an invasive!

The culprit of the day, looking quite innocent here.

Upon clipping down the grass, the FGHS students we pretty excited to see “all pink now!”, as the pink flags on the native willows and dogwoods began to reveal themselves.  The students started to name some of the trees they uncovered, too!  Their teacher, Mr. Crabtree (who was working hard all morning pulling out invasive as well as collecting some invasive plant samples to bring to his classroom) said that next time, they want to work at Gales Creek twice as long!

Thank you for your hard work, laughs and enthusiastic grass-cutting/ native-plant-saving!

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