Helping out ‘Karper’ Creek

Who knew that native trees loved coffee?  Students from Trevis Karper’s science class at Mountain View Middle School joined us this week at the Beaverton Creek Tributary (aka Karper Creek) to stake donated coffee bags around native trees to impede the growth of weeds like reed canary grass.  The coffee bags are staked with biodegradable stakes and the bags themselves will biodegrade in a few years time.  By coffee bagging these plants, students are really giving them a chance to get a head start on their growth without the interference of weeds.

Chloe, an eighth grader at Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School helped lead the students and gave an excellent demonstration on proper coffee bagging techniques!

SOLV has a great partnership with Boyd Coffee Company, who has been donating coffee bags to SOLV regularly over the past four years.  Boyd sets aside used coffee bags for nonprofits and other organizations doing restoration work.  We are so appreciative of their work and generosity!

Tire, Soccer Ball, Duct Tape… Mountain View conquers invasives & litter!

Mountain View Middle School students were greeted at Beaverton Creek Tributary with many falling leaves from nearby trees.  Fall was in the air and watershed information was in our creative minds.  We started our time together the way any good gathering begins- with a game!  We each took various objects from our bag of riparian metaphors and came up with our most educated and creative guesses as to what they symbolize in a natural riparian corridor.  Students applied ideas from their knowledge of healthy watersheds and remembered that tall trees shade our creek and keep it cool while their plant bodies can store pollutants to prevent them from getting in the stream, and their roots grow dynamically to hold in the soil on the banks!  With this newfound appreciation for these native trees, we sought out to save them.

Meghan (SOLV) told us all about the various invasive plants at our site and how they might threaten the survival of our native tree and shrubs.  After equipping us with knowledge regarding these plants, she told us how we can stop the invasive species from taking over!  She told us about how to remove Armenian Blackberry, teasel, and morning glory.  We talked about Reed Canary Grass, a devastatingly invasive grass at our site.  Reed Canary Grass cannot simply be pulled out of the ground and removed forever.  The only way to defeat Reed Canary Grass is with shade.  Students were hopeful that the Red Osier Dogwood, Alder Trees, Douglas Spirea, and other native plants at our site will one day shade out this grass.  All the while, we found many strange objects along our stream.  We had not learned anything about native species of tires, duct tape or soccer balls growing in riparian zones, so we figured they didn’t belong there.  While we do not appreciate people littering in our stream, we were quite elated to realize that our new soccer ball was full of air and our duct tape is still usable! The tire will be recycled by one of our wonderful community partners.  

Lastly, we enjoyed our well-deserved lunch together and headed back to school.  We can’t wait to visit our Tributary again soon!

Students- Keep thinking about a name for our Tributary!  You are the stewards of this stream!  

Here’s to a successful school year!

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

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!

Earth Day at Beaverton Creek

Mountain View Middle School students celebrated Earth Day last Friday at Beaverton Creek Tributary by checking out some very cool macroinvertebrates in the stream.  Students in Trev Karper’s classes visited the site for the last time this year and were gifted with beautiful weather and lots of critters and crawlers to inspect.

Students formed three groups and were stationed at three spots along the stream; near the street and culvert, in the middle of the stream site, and the last group was stationed in the pond at the back of the site.  Students were also able to test the stream temperature with some very cool water quality testing equipment from our friend and site sponsor Matt from Vernier

Students were able to critically think about why the stream temperature cooled as it flowed further from the street and under more shade, as well as why certain macros did or didn’t exist in the water way.  Students found scuds, snails, leeches, mayflies, beetle larvae, aquatic sowbug, blackfly larvae and aquatic earthworms.  One group even found a damselfly nymph!  Each group tallied up their points, which are determined by the macroinvertebrate’s sensitivity to pollution, and found that the water quality was between fair and poor.  But, we know that the shading of the waterway and restoration of the site is really bringing back the health of the stream; thanks for all of your wonderful work Mountain View!

Mountain View masters coffee bagging

A small and enthusiastic group of Mountain View Middle School students joined SOLV at Beaverton Creek Tributary last week to finish planting native plants.  The site is looking great with all the native plants in the ground; its hard to believe that just two years ago, it was covered in Himalayan blackberry.

Students also got a quick tutorial on the method of weed and invasive control we do at SOLV; coffee bagging!  As the spring starts, we are in the maintenance phase of our sites and coffee bagging helps native plants get a head start on weed growth.  Students staked coffee bags around native plants with biodegradeable cornstarch stakes and enjoyed the fact that it was a bit cleaner than our usual planting.  Happy Spring to all!

Mountain View in the Mud

Mountain View Middle School students joined us last week at Beaverton Creek Tributary for some more planting of native trees and shrubs.  Students braved the cold rain and muddy ground and were able to plant over 40 plants in a short period of time.  Though very cold and wet, students were able to recall all of the great reasons we brave the elements to plant natives and pull invasives.  Thanks for sticking with us Mountain View; the site is looking really great after just two years of restoration work!

Mountain View Makes a Difference

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Mountain View Middle School students worked hard this week at Beaverton Creek Tributary in Aloha to plant nearly 100 native trees and plants along the waterway.  The students in Trevis Karper’s classes came out a few weeks ago and cleared out a huge patch of invasive blackberry at the back of site.  This week, students were able to recall the qualities of native and invasive plants, which is captured in the video below.

Students planted wetland species such as pacific willow, edge species like thimbleberry and other hearty natives like red osier dogwood.  They also took initiative to clear out trash and other debris from the stream as they planted; well done Mountain View!