Willow Stakes and Winter Snow

Green Team Week December 2nd to the December 6th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

A Shout-out to our Green Team students who work at Beaver Creek!  This article was in the Gresham Outlook this past week.

coho return

East Side Sites

West Linn High School @ Clackamas-Willamette Confluence December 3rd and 4th

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West Linn students in Mr. Hartmann and Bingham’s classes came out to do some native planting at the Clackamas-Willamette Confluence.  First students learned a little bit about plant identification for our native species.  Different plant parts can help you distinguish between plants including the terminal bud, lateral buds and lenticels.  Lenticels are pores on the steam which allow for gas exchange, depending on the plant they can be more distinct.  The lateral buds are the most common way to distinguish trees because they are all quite distinct and in different patterns.

Unfortunately, for the first class on Wednesday, the little saplings were frozen in their pots. We did our best to ‘hug’ them and heat them up.  By the second class, the day had warmed up significantly and the plants were more easily removed from their pots.

Thank you for your enthusiasm and flexibility West Linn!

Overall West Linn planted 165 plants!  Thanks for a great job West Linn students!

La Salle High School @ Phillips Creeks December 4th and 5th

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La Salle students planted 100 native trees and shrubs at Phillips Creek this week.  Despite the cold, students were able to dig holes and with a little coaxing get our native plants out of their frozen buckets.  Students also learned a little plant identification skills including our friends SAM and TED which are our native trees and shrubs that have opposite lateral bud arrangement.  These include snowberry, ash, maple, twinberry, elderberry and dogwood.  While planting we perfected the perfect sized hole by finding a basketball and laying it inside insuring our hole was basketball sized.  La Salle students also picked up a bunch of trash lying around Philips Creek.  Thanks for your dedication in the cold La Salle students!

West Linn High School @ Clackamas-Willamette Confluence December 5th

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West Linn students came out for a final day on Thursday but it was so cold the night before the ground was frozen over.  This made planting our native trees and shrubs too difficult so instead students did some invasive removal and litter clean-up.  Students found a few tires, a soccer ball and a bunch of other litter clearing 50 lbs of trash.  There was also lopping of blackberry and some pulling of ivy.  Great job West Linn and thanks for your enthusiasm!


Glencoe High School at McKay Creek

Monday 12/2 and Tuesday 12/3

This Monday and Tuesday, Glencoe High school installed over three hundred and sixty Red Osier Dogwood stakes. Each stake contains a growth hormone that gives it the potential to one day become a full grown Dogwood!

The classes first learned how to prepare live stakes. The steps are listed below.

1)      Harvest up to ¼ of an adult Red Osier Dogwood, or Willow.

2)      Cut branches into 2 foot long segments. Make sure that the bottom is cut at an angle, so that the stake will move into the ground easier.  The top should be flat, making the stake easier to mallet.

3)      Remove any side branches or buds from the stake. All energy in the stake must go towards developing root structures, not buds and leaves.

4)      Attach pink tape to make locating plants later easier.

5)      Find a wet area and mallet the stake halfway into the ground.  Place within one foot of each other to more effectively shade out the invasive Reed Canary Grass.

Glencoe installed stakes in several different areas behind their school building. The hope is that by spring forests of Dogwood will battle with Reed Canary Grass, hold onto loose soils, and create new habitats for native animal life.  After each class, students drank warm cups of hot cocoa and worked on reflections for Honoring Our Rivers!  It has been a joy serving with Glencoe this year and the changes we have made to McKay Creek are already visible!

Thank you for all your hard work.

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City View Charter School at Council Creek

Thursday 12.5

This Thursday, City View Charter School braved the cold and learned how to make and propagate Willow stakes at Council Creek.  We started above the creek with a Willow stake making class.  Then, the students worked in pairs down in the wetland to break through the frozen ground and install the stakes they made.  Even though it was freezing cold, the sun did come out and the landscape quite literally glittered with frost and snow.  City View installed around sixty Willow and Dogwood stakes and then headed back to the class to complete a reflection on bioengineering and planting this semester.

I am so proud of this class’s hard work and amazed at their vigor for environmental restoration (even when the weather is trying).

To all of my classes this week I want to thank you and wish you a happy holiday season!

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Dreaming of spring & loving the snow,


La Salle Clears Phillips Creek of Invasives


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La Salle High School @ Phillips Creek Oct 9, 10 Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer, Becca La Salle High School students came out with enthusiasm on October 9th and 10th to do some invasive removal at Phillips Creek.  Students began … Continue reading

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A thriving creek!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

La Salle HS @ Phillips Creek on 3.13 and 3.14.2013

It was La Salle’s first trip out in 2013 and excitement was in the air as students returned to the site and saw all of their progress from the past few months.  We like to plant plants in the rainy winter season when all of the energy of the plant is devoted toward growing roots rather than leaves and branches.  Now that it seemed spring had sprung, we needed to get the plants in the ground! The first class of students focused on planting the rest of the native plants at the site.

However, it is not enough to plant our natives and call it a day!  We need to take care of our baby natives in order to make sure that they survive, which is why we mulch them!  Mulch helps the plant retain water in the warm summer months with the students wont be there, it helps the plant retain nutrients, and it also helps suppress weeds around the plants.

We had a mulch assembly line making donuts around the baby natives which quickly made it clear to see all of the progress we had made.

After all 5 classes we planted 95 plants, mulched 600 plants with an entire unit of mulch, AND did a litter cleanup!

Unfortunately, Phillips Creek is often filled with litter – but not today!  The students collected the trash from the riparian zone to keep out from eventually making its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We found cool items like parts of vending machines, salmon mugs, shopping carts, and even a TV!

Thanks to La Salle, our plants are ready to complete with Blackberry and Phillips Creek is ready to thrive!

Sunshine isn’t the only thing to be thankful for!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

La Salle Catholic College Preparatory @ Phillips Creek on 11.14.12 and 11.15.12

With 2 full days of sunshine, nothing could stop La Salle in their restoration efforts!

Wednesday’s classes focused on planting native trees and shrubs.  They learned how to identify natives based on plant parts and lateral bud arrangements (alternate, opposite or whorled).  They also learned fun facts about the different native plants that they would be planting.  After three dedicated classes of planting there were 125 plants in the ground. Not bad for a day’s work!  Looking back on their work, each student took note of their favorite native plant and wrote a poem about it.

Thursday’s classes were energized and ready to rip out Blackberry roots!  We needed to make more room on the stream bank in order to continue to plant.  Some pesky Blackberry roots still remained in our way and we wanted to make sure they would never come back!  A few eager students rolled a dead Willow tree into the stream as a snag to improve channel diversity.  Other students quickly got to work clearing the Blackberry canes and digging out the gnarly roots.  At the end of the day we made room to plant about 50 more plants!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we aren’t only thankful for the sunshine.  We are thankful that La Salle is dedicated to restoring the riparian zone and for all of their hard work.  With their help, Phillips Creek quickly transformed from a pile of Blackberry bushes to a sea of diversity with almost 300 native plants!

Frankenberry, Phantom Ivy, and Morning Glory Monsters

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, Nicole Poletto

La Salle High School @ Phillips Creek 10/31/12 and 11/01/12

Once upon a time, there were evil invasives: English Ivy, Reed Canary Grass, Purple Nightshade, and Morning Glory, but the worst of all was Armenian Blackberry.  These invasives silently crept to Phillips Creek, killed the natives, and overtook their kingdom.  They haunted the creek, destabilized the bank, destroyed habitat, and warmed the creek water, until La Salle High School came to the rescue.

On Wednesday, the students worked upstream at an existing restoration site.  The Zombie invasives had come back from the dead and were continuing their efforts to overtake the native kingdom.  The zombies were fairly easy to destroy with shovels, laupers, and even bare hands.  The students the removed invasives from the vicinity and laid them to rest, once and for all.  To ensure the area remained healthy, the students planted more natives such as Sword Fern, Douglas Fir and Elderberry.  A Nutria (invasive) occasionally laid on the banks and watched the students reclaim the Kingdom.

Thursday was an entirely different battle.  The students worked downstream on an area overtaken entirely by Armenian Blackberry (known more commonly to the natives in the Kingdom as Frankenberry).  The students got to work digging out the roots of this spooky invasive to ensure Frankenberry could no longer haunt the area.

What better way to celebrate Halloween than battling the monsters in the Riparian Zone?  Thanks for all of your hard work La Salle!