Macros, Caging, Roots Oh My!

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek October 16th, 2013

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Becca Strohm

Portland Lutheran students came out to Beaver Creek for their second trip on October 16th.  In the morning students pulled on some waders and performed a macroinvertebrate survey of Beaver Creek.  Macroinvertebrates are aquatic insects that have no vertebrae but you can see with your naked eye.  Students took D-nets into the stream kicking up sediment and rocks to see what they could find.  Students were looking to identify macros in the four main families (see picture below) which each have a different tolerance of pollution.

macro  Students found mainly small minnow mayflies and a few caddisflies.  These species are more pollution tolerant so students concluded that Beaver Creek may be a more polluted stream.

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After a beautiful lunch on the Sandy River students took of their waders and did some maintenance at our Beaver Creek site.  Students did some blackberry root removal and beaver caging.  Having done both activities before students were experts and got a lot of work done caging 30 native species and removing around 40 blackberry roots!  Excellent work Portland Lutheran- we’ll see you next time at Beaver Creek!

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Portland Lutheran’s First Trip of the Year

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer, Becca Strohm

Portland Lutheran @ Beaver Creek 9.18.13

Mr. Tarbell’s middle school science class came out for the first time to Beaver Creek on Wednesday.      The students took TriMet over and spent the whole day doing great work out at Beaver Creek.   All the students got to participate in two stations.  The first was with Mr. Tarbell doing stream mapping.  Unfortunately some students were a tad overenthusiastic and flooded their waders but luckily it was a warm, sunny day and they dried quickly!

The second station included a riparian metaphor game, invasive blackberry removal and maintenance of the native plants at Beaver Creek.  If you didn’t know, the word riparian literally means “bankside” in Latin.  So to play our metaphor game everyone picked an object out of bag and thought of a metaphor for what the object might represent in a healthy riparian area.  An example was a camouflage bandanna the different colors represented different native trees promoting biodiversity.  Great metaphors Portland Lutheran!  Students also removed invasive blackberry roots around Beaver Creek using shovels.  As long as you remove the whole root of blackberry from the ground it will not grow back and Portland Lutheran was successful at digging up a bunch of roots.  Some students’ also mulched and put beaver caging around native saplings planted at Beaver Creek.  The caging protects the young plants from beaver damage and the mulch helps the plants retain moisture and provides nutrients to the young saplings.  All in all a great day and a great job by Portland Lutheran students!  We’ll see you next month back out at Beaver Creek!

Portland Lutheran says “see you later” to Beaver Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest members Nicole Poletto and Lauren McKenna

Portland Lutheran School @ Beaver Creek on 4.25.2013

Once again, Portland Lutheran School brought, energy and enthusiasm to Beaver Creek for their last outing.  They also had a new friend that day – SUNSHINE!  For the past 4 outings, Portland Lutheran students have been working in the pouring rain and hail to restore Beaver Creek.  Sunshine was a great thank you for all of their hard work!

Students completed individual inquiry projects, testing hypotheses about water quality of Beaver Creek.  Some students collected macroinvertebrates, some measured the stream width, some took water quality measurements using Vernier’s Lab Quest equipment.

Portland Lutheran also wrote reflections for a community newsletter to be distributed to the surrounding community.  The newsletter would inform residents about all of their restoration activities throughout the year.  Students distributed the newsletters full of their artwork, articles, and poems for the residents of Troutdale to be inspired!

One of the poems featured was:

“Better than we found it”

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We clear the blackberries

And spread the mulch

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We map the stream

And check the water quality

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

We go to Beaver Creek and we work

We plant Alder and Red Dogwood

We help the habitat

We hope to leave it better than we found it.

But there is dirty runoff

And there are plants that shouldn’t be there

And I really hope it is not too late

To leave it better than we found it.

We hung out by the Sandy River, ate lunch, and basked in the glorious sunshine before we headed back up to our restoration site.  This was our last chance to protect the baby natives we planted from invasive species and the hot summer months!  We mulched 50 plants to help them retain water and add more nutrients to the soil.  We also coffee-bagged 50 plants to help suppress invasives from growing too close to our plants.  It was hotter down by the stream than expected, and some students even decided to make their jeans shorts instead!

To finish the day, we ate donuts and celebrated our progress at Beaver Creek.  The site transformed from a wall of Armenian Blackberry to a sea of native trees and shrubs and willow stakes.  As a student said, “As an invasive it did not naturally evolve to live with everything here.  Something brought it here.  Humans did this so we are destined to serve nature by defending her offspring and her home.” 

Portland Lutheran rejoices after a year of stewardship at Beaver Creek!

Portland Lutheran rejoices after a year of stewardship at Beaver Creek!

Thanks to Portland Lutheran School’s dedication we have made Beaver Creek healthier for future generations.  They came out not only for a class period, but for a whole school day taking the Tri-Met bus to our site!!! Incredible. See you next year!

Eastside 2013 Green Team Student Summit!

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The school year is winding down and the summer is rapidly approaching.  Green Team students took this opportunity to celebrate their efforts over the past year on their stream and wetland enhancement projects.  Eastside Green Team students gathered on May 17th at Rex Putnam High School for a day of celebration and sharing!

After an introduction from Kris, our Green Team Program Coordinator in lieu of Meghan Ballard on maternity leave, we kicked things off with our Keynote speaker! John Runyon is a Principle at his own environmental consulting firm, Cascade Environmental Group, overseeing watershed planning and restoration projects of all types. John shared his background experiences in fisheries, forestry, and stream restoration and encouraged us to continue to search for our passions!

Spring Mountain Elementary kicked off the morning with a video of what they this year in their very first year with SOLVE.  This enthusiastic group of third, fourth, and fifth graders restored Mt. Scott Creek after school, all year-long.  Our next presenters were our hosts, Rex Putnam High School‘s Sustainable Systems class.  They presented a documentary of their work at Boardman Wetlands and in their class throughout the year.  Portland Lutheran School described how their class mapped Beaver creek using GIS technology.  Students took the TriMet bus to Beaver Creek 5 times this year and completed individual inquiry projects and stream restoration activities.  Rod and Angie Shroufe’s classes from Clackamas High School explained how they have kept Rock Creek healthy throughout the year and the reason for their November Salmon tosses.  Clackamas High School also has an after school Green Team that has worked at Rock Creek and Mt. Scott Creek this year.  They explained the various projects they have implemented throughout the year to make Clackamas High School green! Last but not least, we had the Watershed Avengers, in all of their glory, from Clackamas High School present a lighthearted video about the removal of invasive species and get a little jiggy with it.  WATCH IT HERE.

SOLVE also recognized Amanda from Clackamas High School as this year’s Student of the Year.  Amanda participated in the SOLVE Stream Team Captain 3 day training in June.  Since then, she has dedicated 10 Saturdays to leading SOLVE events, which is hard to imagine from a busy high-schooler!  She is a shining example of how SOLVE and other local organizations can help you learn new skills, try experiences, and explore natural resources as a possible career.

A BIG thank you to our presenters, 12 Eastside Schools and 1120 students for your constant dedication and hard work to make our watersheds healthier for generations to come.  We are inspired by your passion and can’t wait to see all the things you will continue to do in the future.  This of course, also wouldn’t be possible without our Green Team Teachers who have motivated and encouraged their students throughout the year with their positive attitudes, rain or shine!  

Also thank you to the following sponsors, partners and friends who attended the summit and for supporting our work:

A parting thought from a Gladstone High School student this year:

A place so calm but corrupted

but people like us can fix it.

Each day we plant a new life

to help save the fish.

Pushing towards a new beginning I remind myself.

I am a student

I am an Oregonian

I am one of hundreds who’s willing to make a difference”

Thanks for playing in the mud, sun and hail with us, it has been a blast!

Good Day Sunshine!

Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest AmeriCorps Member Lauren McKenna


The last time Portland Lutheran spend the day at Beaver Creek, they also spent the day in the POURING rain.  Of course, it’s not a  SOLVE day without a  little watering!  During this last visit, however, they got sun, Sun, SUN!

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Before heading to the creek, we all talked a little about litter in the environmnet and how people — that means you, kids! — can reduce how much litter there is and how much we depend on plastic.  As we helped the creek, we collected any trash we found.  Empty plant pots, in a way, are waste produced from planting native plants; SOLVE recycles ALL plastic plant pots by returning them to the native plant nursery to be reused.

They also spent the day adding mulch to some newly planted baby plants and also helped place out plants to be planted later. They learned that some plants, like willow, like sun and wet soil and some like Douglas-fir, like higher, drier land.

They also spent some time in the sun during their lunch break… it was glorious weather until… it HAILED!  Many of the students are exchange students from other countries, and some were seeing hail for the first time: “Teacher! Teacher! Ice!”

Portland Lutheran, you all ROCK!

Oregon rain

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Portland Lutheran HS @ Beaver Creek on 2.28.2013

Portland Lutheran hopped off the Tri-Met bus, ready for a day of adventure at Beaver Creek.  It was pouring rain but then again we are in Oregon, right?

We kicked off the morning by clearing a hillside of pesky invasive Blackberry especially around a sensitive bog area!  This bog is a very important habitat for amphibians.   After we dug roots all over the hillside we planted 50 native plants such as Douglas Fir and Pacific Willow!


We ate our lunches in refuge from the rain as luckily, it began to stop!  Once we were fed and energized we were ready to take on willow staking and beaver caging in the afternoon!  We put 70 Willow and Dogwood stakes in the bog area to add native vegetation that will thrive in the wet environment.  We also caged 25 of our Willows and Alders from beaver damage along the stream.

It was a full day of activities and Beaver Creek looks great thanks to the hard work and dedication of Portland Lutheran!


SOLVE’s Annual Women in Science day will be held at Glen Otto Park in Troutdale on March 23rd from 9-1.  Girls – Are you interested in exploring a career in science? Come chat with mentors currently in the science field over breakfast!  In the afternoon we will be planting trees up the road at Beaver Creek!  Register online at :  See you there!

Invasives, Natives, and Stream mapping, Oh my!

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Members Lauren McKenna and Nicole Poletto

Portland Lutheran @ Beaver Creek 10/25/2012

Portland Lutheran students came out to Beaver Creek, lunch in hand, prepared for a full day of restoration activities.  It was hard to say which of the three stations the students were most excited for: stream mapping, invasives removal, or native planting!

Mr. Tarbell guided the students in collecting water quality measurements and GPS locations along the creek.  Some of the students plunged in the creek above their waders after falling in some underwater holes – at least it was a nice sunny day to dry off!

Another station was Invasives removal with Nicole (SOLVE).  An area upstream had been taken over by Armenian Blackberry, and it was up to the students to ensure that it didn’t come back!  Armed with shovels, the students determinedly pulled and dug the roots out.  Soon this area will be ready to be planted with native species thanks to Portland Lutheran!

The opposite of removing invasives is planting natives! Lauren (SOLVEwas ready with some native Plant ID and planting at her station.  Some students named their plants and prayed over them, ensuring that they grew big and strong!  Invasive Reed Canary grass was ripped out and replaced with natives that will grow tall one day and shade not only the creek but also shade out the invasive grass!

Invasive removal and planting in one day? Phew! That is a lot to take in!  The students reflected on the activities through poems, drawings, and writing while gazing at some native plants for inspiration.  One poem written by a student was:

Big Leaf Maple

The Big Leaf Maple seemed very small

The plant was worth nothing at all

And looking up now

You’ve got to say “Wow!”

‘Cause the tree’s become very tall

~ Anonymous

We had an awesome day with you Portland Lutheran! It is amazing how much difference one day of stewardship can make!