Here’s to a successful school year!

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

East Side Students Reflect on a Year with Green Team

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Students from SOLV’s Green Teams on the East Side joined together last week to share their experiences and the lessons they have learned over the past year.  Hosted at Clackamas High School, students were able to hear about each others’ research and time spent at the creek. 

Lori Hennings of Metro joined us to talk about the importance of stream and wetland restoration, not only for the health of the waterway but for the wildlife it support as well.  Lori shared some wonderful insight on habitat fragmentation, supporting bird habitat and the importance of native planting. (Video of her presentation will be up soon.)  Check out all of the different ways you can volunteer with Metro!

Kellen and Kourtney from Clackamas High School started off the student presentations with results from their macroinvertebrate surveying at Rock Creek, as well as reflection on the importance of invasive plant removal and native planting.  Austin joined us to represent West Linn High School and their work with stream bioengineering at Abernethy Creek.  Reynolds Natural Resource Academy students Cir, Tyler, Cody and Brittney shared their perspective on garlic mustard removal and why it is so important to remove invasive plants.  Heather, Cristy and Emily presented on behalf of Gladstone High School and they shared some very interesting findings about the water quality of Rinearson Creek. 

THANK YOU to all of the stellar students and teachers we have had the honor and privilege of working with this year!  It has been one of our most successful Green Team years ever and we are so glad you all were able to share it with us.

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

A muddy reflection…

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Seniors from Reynolds Natural Resource Academy joined us for their last time out at Beaver Creek last Friday.  These students have worked so hard to restore a large section of Beaver Creek visiting the site monthly as both juniors and seniors.  Back when they were juniors and visiting Beaver Creek for the first time some students were afraid to even get their shoes muddy… this is no longer an issue!  Students celebrated their hard work by painting a muddy “war paint” on their faces!  These students are indeed true warriors for their watershed.  We cannot thank you enough Reynolds Seniors!

Student reflections:

Coming to SOLV gives me something to look back at during the years of Reynolds Natural Resource Academy.  The things we did here were really impactful.  We got to do so much.  We planted trees.  We protected them.  We even go to save habitat for fish.  Now they can still live and spawn in Beaver Creek.

Never did I think I would have a snail poop on my paper.  Never did I think I would plant trees for fun.  Never did I think I could really make a change for the environment.  Reynolds Natural Resource Academy and SOLV join forces to drive the stake of nature into our hearts.

My lovely SOLV experience.  Miles and Meghan our SOLV leaders taught us so much, from plant to water bugs.  What plants are native and invasive.  How plants help the water and dirtiness.  The power to take out blackberries and garlic mustard.  I learned a lot and enjoyed the time to put in healthy earth.  I will continue to SOLV!

Fun in the sun, fun in the rain all to help the environment.  Getting rid of the unwanted invasives.  Planting new natives to grow tall; provide shade to the stream; stopping erosion.  Smelling all the garlic mustard, but feeling proud of removing them.  Two years of working with amazing people, all to change the world

Reynolds Battles Garlic Mustard

On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday this week, students from Reynolds Natural Resource Academy fought hard against a new and somewhat unfamiliar invader; Garlic Mustard.

While Garlic Mustard is a relatively new invader to the Columbia Gorge and Willamette Valley, it is prolific in the midwest and east coast.   This Early Detection and Rapid Response weed is allelopathic, meaning its roots release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants on the forest floor including any tree saplings.  SOLV volunteers and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District are working hard to contain and control Garlic Mustard along Beaver Creek before it becomes a widespread invasive (like Reed Canary Grass).

From the Oregonian:

Garlic Mustard crowds out native plants and wildflowers in the forest understory. And it releases chemicals into the soil that kill fungus vital to native plants. That, in turn, can cause problems for native wildlife and healthy streams.

Unlike invasive plants such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy and Scotch broom, garlic mustard looks unobtrusive. The springtime rosette of leaves grows into a stalk with small, white flowers in early May. The seed pods explode, and one plant can produce thousands of seeds. Seeds are picked up by passing humans and animals, spread by mowing and washed into drainages.

Where the seeds land, they almost invariably grow.

April is the ideal time to pull Garlic Mustard since this is a month before it flowers and starts to produce seeds.  Students pulled up and bagged Garlic Mustard including roots.  If any part of the plant is left on site, including just a single leaf, it will regenerate and produce seeds.  Students ended up filling 15 large SOLV bags!  Thank you Reynolds Natural Resource Academy!!

Beaver Creek Bioengineering

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Water levels at Beaver Creek in Troutdale have been at extreme highs in the past few weeks; Reynolds Natural Resource Academy students who have come out to the site in the past few weeks can attest to this.

Water has receded and students were able to continue their work this week, planting on eroded banks and bioengineering for bank stabilization with willow and dogwood stakes.  The technique the students used is called fascine bundles, or wattles, which are bundles of live and dead plant material.  The live plant material is taken from plant species which root readily, like willow and dogwood; the bundles are prepared and placed in a shallow trench near the creek.  Students harvested willow and dogwood already growing at Beaver Creek and assembled the stakes, or branches, into bundles, fastened with twine.  Students dug trenches on the eroding banks, inserted the bundles and covered them again with remaining soil.

These fascine bundles will really benefit the creek as they root, further stabilizing the eroding banks and providing plants to push back water when the creek floods.  Reynolds students worked alongside Timber Lake Job Corps members, who are working with SOLV on some projects this season.  Job Corps members are from the Forestry and Fire Fighting trade and have been exceptional in the quality and quantity of the work they have done in just a few days.

A New Meaning for Wetland Species

Reynolds Natural Resource Academy joined SOLV at Beaver Creek in Troutdale this week and saw the very real effects and power of flooding.  Areas that students had planted just a few weeks ago was submerged in water from rain in past weeks and flooding because of a log jam down the Sandy River.

Some newer plants were washed away and so students planted a slope near the creek with species of trees that will do well in flooded and wetland areas, such as elderberry.  Students are also learning about birds in their classroom and were able to make observations around Beaver Creek about the type of birds seen there.

We’re Beaver Fans

Native trees and beaver caging at Beaver Creek

After a brief holiday hiatus, SOLV Green Teams are back in action and ready to get back to stream restoration!  We visited Beaver Creek in Troutdale with Kim Wilson’s seniors from Reynolds Natural Resource Academy last week.  These students worked at the site last year and were able to see that a great many of the trees they planted in the riparian area (next to the stream) of Beaver Creek were still thriving.

Miles and Alex (SOLV) demonstrate beaver caging installation

Students planted about 75 trees and shrubs, such as twinberry, douglas spirea and red osier dogwood, all of which are species that do well in wetland and flooded areas.  We were able to see the effects of high water levels and flooding, as some plants’ caging from last year were warped and filled with debris.

Beaver cages filled with debris from the waterway

As students planted native species, they cut wire caging to stake into the ground around the plants to protect them from the nibbles of beavers, deer and other creatures. 

Teacher Marty O'Brien and a student prep beaver caging

Reynolds students were able to cage most of the trees and shrubs they planted, which will give them protection from wind, weather and other elements as they take root and begin to shade and protect Beaver Creek.

Raccoon prints next to Beaver Creek

Bye bye, blackberry!

Blackberry? No problem!

Students in Kim Wilson’s classes at Reynolds Natural Resource Academy came out this week and last week to get some wonderful streamside work done at Beaver Creek.  Students spend the first few minutes at the site in silent observation of the sights, sounds and smells to re-acquaint themselves with the area.  Before we knew it, students had planted over 300 native trees and shrubs and removed hundreds of pounds of blackberry vines and roots.

Students worked and interacted really well with SOLV’s Americorps NCCC team, who have been invaluable in our stream restoration this season.  By removing invasive blackberry, students are able to plant natives with varying root depths to hold onto stream banks to prevent erosion.  These natives will also grow to shade the stream, lowering water temperatures, to create better habitat for wildlife.

Reynolds Rocks the Boat

Shovels?  Check.  Coffee bags?  Check.  Kayaks?  Check. 

Reynolds Natural Resource Academy has been using an interesting tool in their past few visits to Beaver Creek: kayaks. Teacher Kim Wilson talked to us a few weeks ago about wanting to use her personal kayaks to get students more acquainted with the water.  Students have thoroughly enjoyed being able to use the kayaks and we hope that all students will have a chance to get familiar enough with them to be able to do some debris cleanup, water quality and wildlife monitoring sonn enough.

Last week, students planted wetland natives along the banks of Beaver Creek in Troutdale as well as staked coffee bags around plants to impede weed growth.  These coffee bags are donated to SOLV and we use them to give our newly planted natives a jump start on their growth.