Alnus rubra to the rescue!

Many very enthusiastic and energetic students from the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science joined us last week at Goat Island to plant 20 Alnus rubra (Red Alder) trees.  Students learned that Red Alder are a “pioneer” tree species that can grow in soil that lacks nutrients as their roots contain a bacteria that fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil.

From the USDA Forest Service:

The ability of red alder to fix atmospheric nitrogen can result in increases in both nitrogen content and its availability in the soil. Nitrogen fixed in the nodules is added to the soil in four ways: direct excretion from living roots or nodules, decomposition of dead roots or nodules, leaching from foliage, and decomposition of litter rich in nitrogen.

Students didn’t stop there!  After recent flooding of the nearby Clackamas River, Goat Island had a lot of litter carried in and students spent some time cleaning up.  Thank you CAIS!!

CAIS Staking Goat Island

The sun was shining, the cottonwood trees were standing, and the school bus was running.  The stage was set for willow and cottonwood harvesting this fine day for a Green Team event.  As soon as students from CAIS arrived to Goat Island, we were off!

We reviewed the ways in which trees like cottonwoods and willows grow tall to shade our rivers and grow deep to stabilize our banks.  We learned that you can propogate a whole new willow or cotton wood from a branch of a mature tree so we thought we’d try it out!

Students perfected their twig identification skills on our leaf-less trees and cut branches from trees to donate to new saplings.  Students cut them down into many stakes and bundles, even wrapped them up in pretty, pink flagging tape and hopped back on their bus!

We will be using all of those stakes to stabilize banks that do not have as many wonderful trees growing in them!

King Elementary and Friends Be-leafing in the Future

Last Friday, there was a lot of activity going on at Abernathy creek. Our special Green Team at King Elementary showed up ready to get some work done as usual but joining them this time to help out were several students from Clackamas High School’s AP Environmental Sciences classes as well as a few from the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science Green Team!

This week, King Elementary came out with their usual gusto and enthusiasm to help us plant some trees! Much needed planting so it was a good thing we had so much help. (Not to mention, when digging holes, it makes things easier to have people who weigh more than 80 lbs helping…) These ash and willow trees we planted will be really important for the future of the Abernathy Creek watershed as their tall branches will provide much-needed shade, keeping the water nice and cold, and their roots will hold onto the soil, preventing sediment from washing into the creek.

And speaking of warm sediment-loaded water… While this is bad for the Abernathy Creek ecosystem, we discovered that it can taste delicious to people! So for all of their hard work in the cold  weather, SOLV treated all of our volunteers to a nice warm cup of hot dirty water! Okay, okay, okay, so it wasn’t truly dirt from our stream banks students were enjoying in their hot water, but one could argue that hot chocolate mix is a kind of sediment…

Abernathy Creek thanks all of the wonderful students, teachers, parents, and chaperones who came out to help for all of your hard work!

A connected green team community

Green Teamers from King Elementary School visited Abernethy Creek for the first time this school year to help us protect some newly planted native trees and shrubs with coffee bags.  Together with Charlie(SOLV), Gavin a Gladstone High School senior who is volunteering to lead our King Elementary students on their monthly outings to Abernethy Creek, instructed students on proper coffee bagging techniques while also reminding students why this stream enhancement project is so important for water quality and wildlife habitat.

The coffee bags are donated to us from Boyd’s Coffee Company.  The bags are made out of a grass called Jute, which biodegrades in a few years.  We lay them on either side of our newly planted natives to shade out invasive weeds from around the plantings.

Many students from the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science Green Team joined us and worked alongside the younger students!  Green Team staff were so proud to have students representing three Green Team schools all volunteering together after school on their own time!

Thank you King Elementary, Gladstone High and Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science students!

Mulching in a jungle

This afternoon, SOLV went to work with a hard-working Green Team from the Clackamas Academy of Industrial Science at Goat Island, off of the Clackamas River. While some may be daunted by the amount of work that needs doing at this large jungley site, the CAIS Crew jumped right in to work and got a lot of mulching done. A lot of our both planted and volunteer native plants were given a much-needed break today from invasive weeds threatening to choke them. Despite the unbelievably short time they were with us, they got a lot of work done today! We can’t wait to work with you guys again!