Green Team East Side Summit a Success!

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On May 16th, nine of our Green Team Schools on the East Side of Portland came together for the East Side Summit.  Each school gave a 10 minute presentation by students on an aspect of stream restoration and ecology.  Students presented on topics such as birds species found on the Clackamas River by West Linn HS, macroinvertebrate surveys by Gladstone HS, beaver activity in a restored wetland by Rex Putnam HS, stream mapping on Beaver Creek by Portland Lutheran School, litter art by Gladstone HS, vegetation monitoring by Sam Barlow, a salmon toss by Clackamas HS and tools used in restoration by Sabin-Schellenberg.  In addition Spring Mountain Elementary made a video of their time at Mt. Scott Creek. 

We also got to hear from Jenny Dezso of the Clackamas River Basin Council gave a keynote speech on volunteerism and how it has shaped her career path.  Thanks to Jenny for sharing her story!

 All and all around 100 people were in attendance to hear great and informative presentations- great job to all who participated!  Thank you also goes out to Sesame Donuts and Noodles and Co for donating breakfast and lunch!  A big thank you to all who attended and also to our funders and partners who made this year in Green Team possible!  I am so proud of all the students who I have worked with this year- you are inspiring and we hope to see you next year out with Green Team!

Spring Is Coming!

Green Team Week March 10th to March 14th

Written by JVC Northwest Members Dane Breslin & Becca Strohm

Sabin-Schellenberg @ Rock Creek Troge March 10th

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Students in the Sabin-Schellenberg School of Forestry spent a day bioengineering at Rock Creek.  Dennis O’Connor from Habitat Concepts instructed the students on methods, techniques and benefits of bioengineering.   Students learned about how to live stake and how to install straw waddles and fascine bundles.  The waddles help as a barrier to soil that is falling into the stream.  The fascine bundles are made from live stakes of willow and dogwood that will take root and hold onto the soil, preventing erosion.  In addition students installed 50 stakes along the bank of Rock Creek.  Thanks Sabin students!

Sam Barlow @ Beaver Creek Headwaters March 10th


Sam Barlow students spent a rainy day at Beaver Creek planting native trees and shrubs.  Barlow students have become master planters and planted 75 native shrubs despite the weather.  Thanks for the enthusiasm Sam Barlow!   After three rainy days of planting we are almost done- see you next time!

Rex Putnam @ Boardman Wetlands March 11th

Another trip out to Boardman Wetlands this week for Rex Putnam students to help restore Boardman Creek.  A few students were brave enough to cross the stream on our makeshift “bridge” in order to plant 10 native trees on the other side.  Despite the danger students surprisingly didn’t get wet when making this trek and successfully planted 10 willow and dogwood trees in the wetland.  The rest of the class spent the day beaver caging.  Recently we have found evidence of returned beavers at Boardman Creek which is pretty exciting and shows Rex Putnam student’s work is paying off.  But beavers do like to snatch our newly planted willow saplings so students put chicken wire around over 50 of our smaller willow trees to prevent beaver from taking them.  Soon those willow will grow nice and tall and the beaver will be able to take branches without risking the death of the entire tree.  Thanks for all the hard work Rex Putnam!

West Linn @ Clackamas Willamette Confluence March 11th and 12th

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West Linn students came out for the first time in the new year to  help restore habitat around the Clackamas-Willamette Confluence.  Students learned a little plant identification before getting started planting including what Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Oregon Grape, Salmonberry and Red Osier Dogwood look like.  Students had to be able to distinguish between native trees and native shrubs which can sometimes be difficult when they are saplings.  We plant our native shrubs 3 ft from other plants but are native trees must be 10 ft from other plants in order to ensure they have enough space to grow their roots.  West Linn students did a great job and planted 30 trees and 91 shrubs!  In addition students collected 280 lbs of trash!  An exciting point of the day was spotting two bald eagles fly overhead.  Thanks for the enthusiasm and hard work West Linn students!

Spring Mountain Elementary @ Mt. Scott Creek March 11th

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Spring Mountain Elementary made a trip out to Mt. Scott Creek this week.  Students mulched our newly planted natives, pulled English ivy and wrote a reflection.  Mulching is a new activity of the year so first we talked about the benefits of mulch.  Mulch is made of cut-up tree bark.  It provides many benefits for native plants including providing nutrients as the mulch breaks down into the soil, prevents weeds from growing around the plants and can help the plant drink because it can retain moisture.  Students mulched over 30 plants around Mt. Scott Creek.  In addition students pulled 30 sq feet of ivy which is still creeping back up around our native plants.  At the end of the day students worked on a reflection of their time throughout the year at Mt. Scott Creek.  Great job Spring Mountain Elementary students!  See you next time

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek Troge March 13th

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Clackamas High School came out to do some native planting along Rock Creek this week. Students were greeted by a beautiful day with sunshine and a balmy 60 degree temperature!  First off we did a a review of the benefits of having our native plants instead of the invasive plants. Native plants provide habitat and food for native animals, especially birds, help to prevent erosion by having diverse root structures that hold onto the soil, stabilizing the bank, can filter out toxins and pollutants from runoff as it flows towards the stream and large trees provide shade which can help cool down the water in streams, creating a better environment for aquatic life.  Clackamas students planted 15 trees and over 200 shrubs in different areas along Rock Creek.  In addition students put beaver caging around 13 Red Alders saplings to protect them from beaver until they grow bigger.  Thanks for bringing the sunshine CHS students- thanks for doing great work at Rock Creek!


Thursday, March 13th

Gilkey Middle School at Cedar Mill Creek

This Thursday, Gilkey Middle School did an exceptional job planting and mulching forty native trees and shrubs at Cedar Mill Creek.  The sixth grade students and their parents started the day by getting into planting groups and hauling buckets of mulch, plants and shovels to the site.  At the site there was a short planting demonstration and then the students did a top notch job of getting the sapling safely into the soil.  We also reviewed the importance of mulch and how it keeps the plant moist, warm and well fed!  During the middle of the day a native plant identification training session was held and the sixth graders learned about native opposite leaved plants, S.A.M. & T.E.D. (Snowberry, Ash, Maple, Twinberry, Elderberry, and Maple).  After memorizing these six plants the alternating leaved plants were much easier to learn.  We ended the day with a truly enjoyable stroll back through the sunlit forest.

Thank you so much Gilkey Middle Schoolers! I had an excellent time planting and mulching with you all and really enjoyed your class!

Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

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Valley Catholic High School students were blessed with exceptionally nice weather this Thursday while planting around sixty native trees and shrubs at Johnson Creek.  The sun was out and the Indian Plums were beginning to bloom as students worked in pairs digging basketball shaped holes, trimming roots, removing nursery soil and making sure their young plants were firmly rooted.  Though our time together was short lived I had an excellent time with this class and am quite impressed with their planting abilities.  Thank you so much for coming out Valley Catholic!

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Friday, March 14th

Tobias Elementary School at Beaverton Creek Tributary

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Tobias elementary school students were very busy this Friday mulching all day with Green Team.  Each class worked in pairs and took around a half a bucket for each plant.  Before we began we discussed the differences between mulch, manure and compost. We also talked about the magic of mulch, and how it truly offers so much support to our young plants be acting as a source of nutrient, a guardian against close growing weeds, and an emergency supply of heat and water.  By the end of the day, over 300 native trees and shrubs were safely nested in a ring of mulch and what was once a GIANT mound of mulch appeared quite small. Thank you Tobias Elementary, it was wonderful mulching in the sunshine all day with you!

Erosion’s the name. Prevention by Green Team is the game.

Green Team Week February 10th – 14th

Written by Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

Rex Putnam @ Boardman Wetlands

Wednesday Feb 12th

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Rex Putnam students came out for a beautiful day this week at Boardman Wetlands.  Temperatures were almost into the 50’s and with the melt of snow, the wetlands were particularly wet and soggy.  Activities of the day were bioengineering and beaver caging.  Just this week evidence of beaver activity was spotted at the wetlands, proof of the positive impact Rex Putnam’s work has had on Boardman habitat.  Students caged around 30 small willow to prevent the beaver from taking too many of our newly planted trees.  Students also installed 80 willow stakes which will hopefully grow into large willow trees, shading out Reed Canary Grass, preventing erosion and providing more great habitat for wildlife.

Thanks for all the hard work and enthusiasm Rex Putnam students.  Your work is really paying off at Boardman Wetlands!

Sabin-Schellenberg Forestry School @ Rock Creek Troge

Thursday Feb 13th

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First year forestry students came out to Rock Creek Troge for the first time this week from Sabin-Schellenberg School.  Students participated in a variety of restoration activities all around Rock Creek.  First off we removed invasive species, both Reed Canary Grass and blackberry, from the slopes and bank sides of the creek.  We prepped this area so that next time students come out they can do a large bio-engineering project to help prevent the erosion happening along the bank side.  A few students armed with weed whackers also removed blackberry and reed canary grass along the steeper slopes.

Next up students planted 55 native trees and shrubs along the opposite bank.  These plants will also help to prevent erosion along Rock Creek.  The various root structures of the different plants will hold in the soil much better than the monoculture of invasive canary grass that was there previously.

Finally a “special operations team” helped to beaver cage some of the native plants.  Beaver enjoy a bunch of the natives we planted but particularly like Red Alder so we caged about 15 of those trees.

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication Sabin students.  We will see you out in March for some bioengineering!

Valley Catholic High School at Johnson Creek

Tuesday, February 11th

This Tuesday, students from Valley Catholic High School came out to Johnson Creek to install approximately 125 live Willow and Dogwood stakes.  The stakes contain a rooting hormone which allows them to be propagated by simply hammering them half way into the soil.  This project was quite painless in comparison to blackberry removal and we finished quickly.  In addition to the staking itself we discussed how the fast growing, native trees would offer shade to the creek and reduce erosion through their complex root systems. Great job Valley Catholic and thank you for coming out!

City View Charter @ Council Creek

Friday, February 14th

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City View Charter came out to Council Creek and did so INCREDIBLE work.  The class split into two groups and switched half way through the time period.  One group went with Becca and installed two hundred live Willow and Dogwood Stakes. This group also coffee bagged some of our native plants so that they would have a leg up against the surrounding Reed Canary Grass. The second group did macro invertebrate surveys with Nicole and I. We found many small bugs friends in the stream including mayflies and damsel flies (as well as others).  This means that the stream is healthier than a stream where  we only found one time of macro invertebrate.

Overall, we had an excellent time and City View Charter was well versed in their watershed health knowledge!

Thank you!

Something smells a little fishy… Green Team November 4th-9th

Green Team Week November 4th-9th

Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteers Dane Breslin and Becca Strohm

East Side Sites

Sabin Schellenberg Forestry School @ Rock Creek Troge 2- Nov. 4th

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Forestry students broke ground on a new site next to Rock Creek removing invasive blackberry.  With the blackberry above their heads and seen far into the distance it is a good thing students brought chain saws and weed-wackers.  Blackberry was chopped down fast, students cleared over 2000 sq feet of blackberry!  Great Job Sabin students!

Sam Barlow High School @ Beaver Creek Headwaters Nov 4th and 5th

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Sam Barlow students came out for the first time to begin work at Beaver Creek Headwaters.  Before going out each class had surveyed a specific area for plant populations and will continue to survey as our restoration efforts begin.  Since it was the first day ever at the site there was a lot of work to do!  Students came out for three days to remove blackberry and despite the rain students worked hard and removed a ton of canes and blackberry roots!  Great job Sam Barlow!

West Linn High School @ Clackamas Confluence Nov. 5th, 6th and 7th

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West Linn students came out for the second time to do some invasive removal beside the Clackamas Confluence.  Having already removed a ton of blackberry, students began working up a slope and with the rain got VERY MUDDY!  While digging up roots, students uncovered a lot of litter- over 200 lbs!  With majority of the blackberry removed students will be able to plant native plants on site on their next outing!  Excellent work West Linn- we’ll see you next time on the Clackamas!

Clackamas High School @ Rock Creek Troge 2- November 7th

One of Mr. Gwin’s classes made their first trip to Rock Creek to break ground on the brand new site Rock Creek Troge 2.  The site is full of invasive blackberry bushes and the banks of the stream are so eroded it almost looks like a canal!  Students began work removing the blackberry clearing about 250 sq feet of blackberry.  Next month students will be able to plant native species in the area once all the blackberry is removed.  Great Job Clackamas students!

Clackamas High School @ Clear Creek in Estacada- November 8th

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Students in AP Biology made a trek to Clear Creek in Estacada to participate in a salmon toss.  Students suited up by putting on plastic trash bags and gloves and got to work.  Students threw about 300 Coho salmon into Clear Creek in order to restore the nutrients lost because salmon are not making it as far upstream as they traditionally have.  Students also performed a salmon dissection to learn the parts of a fish,  They removed internal organs to make Mr. Fish E. Guts and learn what all the organs look like and their function.  With the bitter cold and rain students got to enjoy a nice fire which also served to bake and smoke salmon that everyone got to try.  Great job Clackamas students!

Salmon Toss @ Clackamas River in Estacada- Sat. November 9th

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A few West Linn and Rex Putnam students participated in a salmon toss along the Clackamas River early Saturday morning.  They were joined by a few Jesuit Volunteer Corp members who came out to join in on the fun.  Despite the early departure time, students enthusiastically threw about 200 Coho salmon into the river to restore nutrients to river and provide food for the 137 species who feed on salmon.  Thanks for all you work West Linn and Putnam students!  I hope you can get the smell of salmon off!


Glencoe High School

Monday & Tuesday~11/4-11/5

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This week Glencoe High School students planted 150 native plants with Green Team! These native plants include Nine Bark, Red Flowering Currant, Red Elderberry, Sword Fern, Red Osier Dogwood and the Cascara tree.  Each class started the event by practicing their plant identification skills.

1) Is the plant alternate or opposite?

2) Are the leaves palmate or pinnate?

3) Are the leaves simple or compound?

4) What else do we see? (berries, color of bark, flowers, lenticels, lobed leaves, etc.)

We also experimented with a native grass called Scirpus Microcarpus or ‘pinnacled bulrush’. First, an adventurous group of students removed a large patch of invasive Reed Canary Grass.  Then, the native rushes were planted densely into the open area in hopes of gaining a foothold and competing with the Reed Canary.  Lastly, the students had to clean up after becoming extraordinarily muddy!

Glencoe 9th grade students planted native plants in several locations and did an amazing job!

Thank you Glencoe High School!

Rachel Carson Middle School at Willow Creek

The New Planting Site

Wednesday 10/6 

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This week, Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School 7th and 8th grade students visited Willow Creek with Green Team. The classes started by breaking into three different groups; invasive blackberry removal, plant identification and plant density estimation.  Thus far, the group has hacked away a huge amount of blackberry and the fence is even more visible than before. Additionally, we started planting in a new area that used to be completely covered with blackberry. This proved challenging as before native plants could be put into the soil blackberry roots had to be removed!  However, Rachel Carson students were up to the challenge and worked hard the whole day.

Thank you Rachel Carson Middle School!

City View Charter at Council Creek

Thursday 11/7

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This week City View Charter visited Council Creek. The class split into two groups. One group learned plant identification with Nicole, while the other group planted native plants. Overall, we planted over 60 native plants!  These plants include Pacific and Sitka Willows, Douglas Spirea, native grasses, Nine Bark and Oregon Ash.  As a group we experimented with different ways to open the soil and make space for the native plants to grow. Initially, the day was quite bleak and rainy, but by the end the beautiful Sun had come out and everyone was in the mood for more restoration!

Thank you City View Charter!

The Madeleine School at Baltimore woods

Friday 11/9

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This Friday, the Madeleine School planted about 40 native plants!  Before they could plant they removed invasive blackberry, Morning Glory, Deadly Purple Night Shade and Teasel.  Before we began planting, they learned plant I.D. and went on a nature walk through a previous parking lot that is being converted to Oak Savannah Habitat. Overall, it was quite an exciting day and I am appreciative of all of the Madeleine Schools energy!

Thank you Madeleine School!

Thus ends a great week for Green Team.  Thanks for all who participated!

Blackberry doesn’t stand a chance…

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Sabin-Schellenberg @ Rock Creek on 3.12.2013

One sunny Tuesday morning, Forestry I hopped off the bus at Rock Creek for their first SOLVE trip!  Armed with shovels, the students were ready to take on invasives.  The Armenian Blackberry never even stood a chance!  They learned that we remove invasive species to help prevent erosion (especially on the steep banks at Rock Creek) because invasive species have simpler root structures in a monoculture that do not hold onto the soil.  We also remove invasive species to plant native species in order provide habitat and food for native animals as well as shade for the creek!

The students quickly got to work digging out roots, and as the class period continued, the pile continued to grow!  At the end of the class, the students teamed up and planted some Cascara trees and Red Currant – 25 to be exact!  With all of the Blackberry cleared, Rock Creek will soon become a native vegetation haven!

Keep up the good work Sabin!

Ridding Rock Creek of Blackberry!

Planting with a purpose

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Sabin-Schellenberg School @ Rock Creek Clackamas Confluence on 3.5.2013

It was the third and final trip out to Rock Creek for Sabin’s Advanced Forestry class.  By now they were planting professionals, so it was a breeze for these students to carry the plants to the site and get them in the ground.

Planting pros

Once 55 Oregon Grape, Snowberry, Red Currant, and Bigleaf Maples were planted, the students moved on to invasive removal!  The hillside was plagued with pesky Reed Canary grass, Thistle, and Scotch Broom.  However, since you cannot remove Reed Canary with tools, we focused our attention on ripping out the roots of Thistle and Scotch Broom to ensure they wouldn’t choke out our baby natives!

After some fun in the mud and rain it was time to call it a day.  We will miss you Sabin! Thanks so much for your hard work and great attitude!

The heroes of Rock Creek

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

Sabin-Schellenberg School @ Rock Creek Troge on 2.25.2013

Today was a very big day at Rock Creek.  Rock Creek was in desperate need of some bioengineering and Sabin-Schellenberg and a few special guests came to the rescue to stop the banks from collapsing!   Bioengineering uses natural and native plant materials to help control for erosion.  Excess sediment in the creek is not only detrimental to the health of the species living in the creek, but also detrimental to the health of the stream as a whole.  As more sediment is added to the stream, it makes the stream darker and attracts more sunlight.  As the creek begins to heat up, there is less oxygen available in the stream for fish to breathe.  Plants in the riparian zone help hold the banks in place with complex and fibrous root structures and they also provide shade for the creek and habitat and food for native species.

The students learn about bioengineering from Dennis O'Connor

The students learn about bioengineering from Dennis O’Connor

We implemented many different strategies of bioengineering to hold the bank in place.  First we staked in straw wattles in contour with the bank and reinforced them on either side with fascine bundle trenches.  The fascine bundles of Willow, Dogwood, and Spirea will grow roots (just like hair!) all along the stakes and also grow into new plants!  We also prepared 100 live willow stakes to stake into the ground close to the stream.  These stakes will root quickly in the wet soil and hold the bankside in place.  The students also planted 50 Oregon grape, Salmonberry, Ninebark, and Willows along the bank to ensure there was no lack of root structures.


After a few short hours Rock Creek was on the road to recovery!

A BIG thank you to Dennis O’ Connor for dedicating your time to improve the health of Rock Creek! Thank you Gail Shaloum (WES) for coming out and to Clackamas County Water Environmental Services for funding this project!  And of course, thank you to Sabin-Schellenberg for your great attitude, hard work, and dedication!

Fun in the sun

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, Nicole Poletto

Sabin-Schellenberg School @ Rock Creek on 2.19.2013

This morning students from Sabin-Schellenberg arrived at Rock Creek ready for the first outing of the year!  We kicked off the morning with a tour from Henderson, a design-build firm offering professional environmental services in assessment, design, and construction.  Henderson will be placing some large woody debris in Rock Creek in order to add some channel complexity and improve stream health!  It was awesome to hear more about the project and learn about what a career with Henderson would look like.

Shawn from Henderson talks to us about bioengineering at Rock Creek!

Shawn from Henderson talks to us about bioengineering at Rock Creek!

We were then ready to tackle some planting!  The area that needed to be planted was once covered in Blackberry and is prone to landslides.  It needed some native trees and shrubs to hold the bankside in place!  Unfortunately, reaching the bankside meant that we needed to carry the plants down the hill and across the stream.  Luckily, Sabin students are always up for the challenge!  With ease, we constructed a bridge to cross the stream and began to plant Twinberry and Spirea along the bankside.  After we planted 110 plants, we got a break to explore the area and bask in the glorious sunshine.  Not bad for a day’s work!

Finding creative ways to get plants across the stream

Finding creative ways to get plants across the stream

Thanks for all of your hard work Sabin and thank you Henderson for coming out to speak with us!

East side green teamers reflect on their year of service-learning…

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Written by Meghan Ballard, Green Team Program Coordinator.

Students from SOLVE’s Green Teams on the East Side of the Willamette River 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.

Matthew Collins, Education Director for Friends of Tryon Creek, joined us to talk about the importance of volunteering and how it has personally impacted his life and career choices.    Check out all of the different ways you can volunteer with Friends of Tryon Creek!

Ashley, Lindsey, Joel and Tanner from Gladstone High School started off the student presentations with information about invasive species at Rinearson Creek.  Sam and Katie joined us to represent West Linn High School and their work with stream bioengineering at Abernethy Creek. Portland Lutheran School students Lydia, Rachel, Abi and Arianna
shared their experience with the fun, slimy and smelly salmon toss on the Sandy River. Alexis, Ben, Jesse and Ryan presented on behalf of Clackamas High School and they shared some very interesting findings about their macroinvertebrate surveys of Mount Scott and Rock Creeks.  Fernanda, Kennedy, and Jake from Rex Putnam High School put together a documentary of their work this year at Boardman Wetlands. And students from the Sabin-Schellenberg Technical School gave their perspective on several tools they’ve used this year on invasive removal at Rock Creek.

Charlie(SOLVE) also introduced something new this year, the Clackamas Student Stewardship Award!  This award recognizes a special student or group of students who go above and beyond our usual tasks and contribute something extraordinary to SOLVE and the overall work we do as a Green Team program.  This year’s award was given to three outstanding art students, Chanel Karbonski, Kristy Younglove, & Ashley-Jean Gonzalez who have done AMAZING work transforming litter pulled out of Phillips Creek into beautiful and educational artwork, including the Tom McCall portrait below!

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:

Amazing litter art!

Tractors, Tracks, Trash and Trees!

Checking out some Salmonberry and Stinging Nettle at Rock Creek

The hardworking and enthusiastic students of Sabin-Schellenberg School joined us once again at Rock Creek yesterday.  They came armed for a blackberry battle with a new tool – a tractor to mow!

We cannot use tractors to mow down Armenian Blackberry at very many sites.  This is because many times there are native trees and shrubs hidden in the blackberry so removal takes a much more delicate approach.  Or because we do not want to disturb the soil along sensitive stream banks.  However, there is a large monoculture of over our heads blackberry on a terrace up away from the stream where we can just go to town mowing with a tractor!

Students also helped us finish up our tree planting for the season by planting over 80 natives.  We only plant during the rainy season so our plants have the best chance of survival so we are very appreciative to the students for helping us finish up before the sunny months hit us.

We then took a break to explore the stream, find some wildlife tracks to make castings and lastly cleaned up some litter on site!

Thank you Sabin-Schellenberg!

Thank you Clackamas County Water Environment Services for funding this project!

This land is owned by Clackamas County Service District #1.