The heroes of Rock Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps members Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Sabin-Schellenberg School @ Rock Creek Troge on 2.25.2013

Today was a very big day at Rock Creek.  Rock Creek was in desperate need of some bioengineering and Sabin-Schellenberg and a few special guests came to the rescue to stop the banks from collapsing!   Bioengineering uses natural and native plant materials to help control for erosion.  Excess sediment in the creek is not only detrimental to the health of the species living in the creek, but also detrimental to the health of the stream as a whole.  As more sediment is added to the stream, it makes the stream darker and attracts more sunlight.  As the creek begins to heat up, there is less oxygen available in the stream for fish to breathe.  Plants in the riparian zone help hold the banks in place with complex and fibrous root structures and they also provide shade for the creek and habitat and food for native species.

The students learn about bioengineering from Dennis O'Connor

The students learn about bioengineering from Dennis O’Connor

We implemented many different strategies of bioengineering to hold the bank in place.  First we staked in straw wattles in contour with the bank and reinforced them on either side with fascine bundle trenches.  The fascine bundles of Willow, Dogwood, and Spirea will grow roots (just like hair!) all along the stakes and also grow into new plants!  We also prepared 100 live willow stakes to stake into the ground close to the stream.  These stakes will root quickly in the wet soil and hold the bankside in place.  The students also planted 50 Oregon grape, Salmonberry, Ninebark, and Willows along the bank to ensure there was no lack of root structures.

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After a few short hours Rock Creek was on the road to recovery!

A BIG thank you to Dennis O’ Connor for dedicating your time to improve the health of Rock Creek! Thank you Gail Shaloum (WES) for coming out and to Clackamas County Water Environmental Services for funding this project!  And of course, thank you to Sabin-Schellenberg for your great attitude, hard work, and dedication!

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