Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, Nicole Poletto
Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek on 3.15 and 3.18.2013
Clackamas students returned to Rock Creek to take in all their work over the past couple of months. The hillside prone to landslides was planted with 600 native plants, staked with Cottonwood and Willow, and was seemingly Blackberry free! Now, the next important step was to take care of all the baby natives that we just planted!
For the next two days, the students mulched with hay and straw, making tight “nests” around the plants, just like “momma” birds! These nests will help the plants retain water, nutrients, and suppress weeds! Mulching all 600 of our plants was no easy task, but we did it! Once all of our nests were made we spread the straw over the exposed soil on the hillside to help keep loose dirt from sliding away. We used 12 bales of straw and 4 huge bales of hay!
That is not even all that we did! We also caged our baby plants from beavers. This helps protect them from beavers until they are mature enough to live in harmony with our state animal! This is especially important at Rock Creek because we found tons of signs of beaver activity over the past 2 months. We made 100 cages and put them around our baby Alders and Willows (beaver delicacies). We even saw some rough skinned newts and learned about native stinging nettle! Yes, you CAN eat it (the nettle, not the newt) but only after cooking it!
At the end of the day we could step back and be proud of our progress. Our natives are well on their way to holding the bankside in place and outcompeting Blackberry thanks to Clackamas students!