Here’s to a successful school year!

Thank you Green Team students, teachers, sponsors and supporters for successful year!

Chew this, not that!

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Deer Park Academy is still going strong!  Students joined us at Willow Creek this week to install caging around native hawthorn trees they planted this spring.  We are seeing a lot of beaver activity at our sites and while we love these native animals, we want them to chew mature trees and allow our young trees and shrubs to grow.  Great work, Deer Park!

Beavers are active during the day (diurnal) but become nocturnal with human encroachment. They don’t hibernate. Beavers build dams to create deep water needed for protection. The dams are made of branches, grass and mud. The main lodge of a beaver dam is 6 to 10 feet in diameter. Some people say beaver dams cause floods, but on the other hand, they help control runoff, and aid in keeping erosion in check and maintaining a suitable water table for fish and waterfowl.

The population of beavers is stable to increasing in what remains of suitable habitat. The threats to beavers are civilization, habitat destruction, water pollution, and hydroelectric dam construction. They are regulated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. (from the Oregon Zoo)

West Side Students Share Their Stories!

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Valley Catholic High School’s auditorium was abuzz with watershed restoration terms and techniques last week as students in Green Teams at Valley Catholic High School, Valley Catholic Middle School, Deer Park Academy, Mountain View Middle School and Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School joined together to present on their year long commitment to creeks near their schools.

Each of these groups of students came out weekly, monthly or just a few times over the year and were able to come away with some important lessons.  Over the course of the year, these students planted native trees and shrubs, removed invasive species, enhanced wildlife habitat, bioengineered stream banks, maintained and monitored native plants.  Lori Hennings, senior natural resource scientist at Metro, congratulated the students on their continued efforts and dedication to stream health.

Valley Catholic High School students presented on invasive reed canary grass and how they have begun controlling it at Johnson Creek behind their school with coffee bags and native plants.  Deer Park Academy students shared what they have learned about stream bioengineering, or using natural elements to help stabilize stream banks and provide shade; they did this by installing live willow stakes and fascine bundles in the banks of Willow Creek.  Rachel Carson Middle School students presented their research on native western pond and western painted turtles and how we must provide habitat for them to thrive.  Mountain View Middle School students shared their results from testing a Beaverton Creek tributary for macroinvertebrates and how this is a good indicator of water pollution.  Valley Catholic Middle School students shared their insight on Armenian blackberry removal methods and how important native plantings are for our environment.

Thanks to our friends from Clean Water Services, The Wetlands Conservancy, Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Friends of Beaverton Creek , Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve and the Tualatin River Watershed Council for sharing the day with us and supporting our students!

THANK YOU, TEACHERS for your support of students and the Green Team program!  THANK YOU, STUDENTS for making your communities healthier places to live, work and play!  Have a wonderful summer exploring and we’ll see you in September!

Bundle Up!

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This week, students from Deer Park Academy joined SOLV at Willow Creek to learn a little bit more about bioengineering techniques.  The last time they visited the site, students installed live willow stakes in the banks to halt erosion and create shade.

This week, we tried a different stream bioengineering technique called fascine bundles or wattles; these are bundles of live and dead plant material that are bound together with twine and placed in a shallow trench.  We used long and short willow stakes harvested from mature trees on-site and installed them on the edge of the waterway; students alternated the tips and buds of the stakes to ensure even growth.  When they root out, these bundles will create a great system of varying root depths to hold onto the soil and will grow to shade the waterway to lower the stream temperature.  All of this without machinery or invasive materials!

I’d like to thank the Academy…

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What a great time we had with Deer Park Academy this week!  Last week, students helped us harvest some willow from mature willow trees to stake into the ground.  This is a form of bioengineering we often use at sites to mitigate erosion and provide shade for the stream.

Two new students joined our crew this week at Willow Creek and we were able to cut longer willow stakes to install along the stream.  When we prepare stakes, it is best to cut the branch, or stake, with the buds facing up, with an angled cut at the bottom.  This allows new growth to be stimulated and it is easier to get it into the ground this way.  A fresh cut at the top of the stake will also stimulate new growth of the willow.  We cut stakes in teams, flagged the stakes so we will be able to monitor them as they shade out the reed canary grass, and installed them on the stream banks.  Thanks for making Willow Creek a better place, Deer Park!

From the Oregon Department of State Lands:

Conventionally, engineers have used only static inorganic materials that provide neither habitat for fish and wildlife, nor shade for the stream. Bioengineering techniques include effective, low cost methods for protecting and restoring riparian areas. Different species of willows and cottonwoods are used widely for bioengineering projects because they easily form roots on stem cuttings.

Hawthorn at Willow Creek

Our friends from Deer Park joined us at Willow Creek this week, along with some new students which we are very excited about!  Meghan and Alex (SOLV) led the students and their teachers in planting black hawthorn trees along the edge of the property.

Black hawthorn, which grow to about 30 feet in height, require a sunny, upland and moist spot in which to be planted.  They provide excellent shade and will do a fantastic job shading out invasive reed canary grass, which is one of the major invasives at Willow Creek.  When it buds, hawthorn yields white flowers and a dark blackish fruit which provides food for wildlife.

Deer Park Returns!

Deer Park Academy students are joining SOLV again this trimester at Willow Creek.  We had a great experience with students this past fall and we are looking forward to getting to work with a new group this spring.

Since this was the first time most of the students were visiting the site, we did a site walk to acquaint them with the area and all of its plant and animal life.  Students began to learn how to identify native plants by distinguishable characteristics like the red bark of the red stemmed dogwood and the peeling bark of the ninebark.  Students saw the eroding banks of Willow Creek and will do some bioengineering with willow and dogwood stakes to halt erosion and sediment flow into the waterway.  We talked about the beaver population and why we want to cage our native trees so that the beaver don’t chew them too early as well as the turtle habitats we have begun constructing with the hope of attracting native turtles to nest at the site.

Deer Park will be coming out with SOLV every week and we are so excited to have them working with us again!

Thank you, Deer Park!!

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What better way to spend an afternoon than looking at bugs?  Deer Park students did just that this week as they examined water samples taken from Willow Creek for aquatic insects and organisms, called macroinvertebrates. 

Students found lots of little creatures nestled among the leaves, sticks and sediment in the water samples including water boatmen, aquatic earthworms and snails.  These species are very tolerant to pollution and indicate water quality that contains a variety of pollutants.  Students from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School and Deer Park Academy have been working very hard at Willow Creek this year to alleviate some of the water quality problems we experience at the site.  By planting native trees, they are working to halt bank erosion and runoff.  By removing invasive species, they are allowing deeper roots of native plants to take hold, growing tall to shade the stream and cool its temperature.

We had a great time removing blackberry, planting natives, building turtle habitat and doing macroinvertebrate testing with Deer Park over the past few months and we wish them all the best of luck.  We have learned so much from all of you and we hope you learned something too!  We look forward to hearing from you and can’t wait to meet our new Deer Park students in February!