When the stakes are high, stake ’em!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

@ Willow Creek 12/11/2012

Interested in striding through a creek in December?  How about chopping down willows in the rain?  If not, Deer Park will do it!

This week, teacher John and a student were joined by another student, new to Willow Creek, to explore creek life and create native plant stakes.  First order of business: get waders on, a challenge in itself.  Second, get IN the creek, another challenge as rain makes this thing called slippery mud. After learning a little about the how and why of macroinvertebrate  sampling, John and the two students tried their best to find signs of life.  The best time to sample is earlier in the fall and spring, but it’s good practice, right?!  We did find what may have been a New Zealand mudsnail (hopefully not!), but mostly rocks and lots of water.

Next order of business: willow and ninebark stakes.  Both willow (genus Salix) and Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) contain plant growth hormones (auxins) that allow it to root quickly from a cutting.  The group found some willows and ninebark large enough to harvest from and made about 20 stakes from them and placed them throughout riparian area of the creek, much of which is covered in reed canary grass, which these stakes will help rid of!

Thank you, Deer Park!  Proof again that there is might in small groups, too!

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