Saving the world one coffee bag at a time

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

Timber Lake Job Corps @ Boardman Wetlands on 4.9.2013

Once again, Timber Lake Job Corps ventured out all the way from Estacada to Jennings Lodge for a full day of adventure at Boardman wetlands.  First, we continued to remove the invasive Blackberry that we were removing together in November.  The roots didn’t stand a chance against Timber Lake!  We were digging them out right and left, and making a huge pile of the carnage.  We may or may not have also tasted a few worms in the process…

After we dug roots, we had enough room to plant some more native trees and shrubs!  We planted about 50 plants in the Blackberry and Reed Canary grass area!  

Planting a native Willow

Planting a native Willow

But that’s not all! Thanks to Boyd’s Coffee, we had totes of coffee bags at our disposal to battle the invasive reed canary grass!  The reason that we place coffee bags around our plants is to shade out the grass growing underneath and give our natives a leg up on the competition.  Reed Canary grass can grow over 6 feet tall in the summertime, which is why it is very important that our plants don’t get shaded out!  We coffee-bagged 60 plants and mulched 100 plants!  Our plants are now well equipped to grow nice and tall and shade out the invasive grass while providing a habitat and food source to natives as well as shade for the creek!
Looks like we saved Boardman Creek, one coffee bag at a time.

Looks like we saved Boardman Creek, one coffee bag at a time.

Thank you Timber Lake for great attitude and hard work! 

Let’s Get Down to Business to Defeat…. Blackberry!

Text and photos by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

Timber Lake Job Corps @ Mt. Scott Creek 12/6/2012

On yet another beautiful clear day, Timber Lake Job Corps made the trek from Estacada to help not only Mt. Scott Creek, but other students as well.  Mt. Scott Creek is BEAUTIFUL, but to make it even more beautiful (and healthier), Spring Mountain Elementary has been removing English Ivy and planting native plants there.  The Job Corps’ goal for the day was to prep an area by the creek so these youngsters could plant more.  This meant chopping down and digging up a solid 30 by 40 foot (maybe bigger!) cluster of invasive Armenian Blackberry… no problem for the Timber Lake!

They literally obliterated whatever blackberry was in their way!  One student dug up 37 root alone!  Another exclaimed that she was “smarter than the average root“!  Boy, was she right!  They even had time to discover and investigate a curious animal skull that they had dug up with the roots.  A cow, a bear?  Maybe a deer.  No on could think of a single animal it looked like….if you know, let us know!

What is this?!?

What is this?!?

They finished the day with enough time to harvest and trim pole cuttings of Pacific Ninebark that the school children will stake.

THANK YOU, Timber Lake!!! You are ALL such hard workers and are SO appreciated, both because of the work you do and the enthusiasm with which you work!

Walking in a Herpetofauna Wonderland

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Member Lauren McKenna

Timberlake Job Corps @ Boardman Wetlands 11/08/2012

Frogs, lizards, salamanders, newts… Herpetafauna as we call em!  Timberlake Job Corps trekked all the way from Estacada to give Boardman Wetlands some TLC and found lots of little reptilian critters, too!

The long day started with invasive Armenian blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) root removal, where they cleared a  huge section for the Rex Putnam High School students who also work at Boardman and will be planting native trees and shrubs there soon.  Unfortunately, if we do not remove the entire root of the invasive blackberry, it can grow back and threaten any native plants trying to grow.  The blackberry also does not stabilize the soil or provide shade for waterways.

Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides?) found slithering among the blackberry brambles!

Timberlake also planted 115 native shrubs in the wetland!  Shrubs, as opposed to trees, have many more stems and only grow to about 20 feet tall.  Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Douglas Spirea (Spiraea douglasii), Scouler’s Willow (Salix scouleriana) and Pacific Willow (Salix lucida) were the star shrubs of the day.  The wetland has some 1-2 year old willows that are doing well, but it is mostly overrun with invasive Reed Canarygrass.  Reed Canarygrass’s main enemy is shade, so by planting trees and shrubs that will provide shade, we can rid the wetland of this nasty grass.

Thank you, Warren and the Timberlake students, for you hard work and dedication!

Timberlake Job Corps prepares “students for the green economy through green training in the advanced manufacturing, automotive, and construction industry areas.”  This crew of young people not only work extremely hard to do a good job and get a lot done, but also had tons of enthusiasm and a good time!

A six-pronged attack on Blackberry

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Written by Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member Nicole Poletto

Clackamas High School and Timber Lake Job Corps @ Rock Creek 10-18 and 10-19.

Rock Creek got a full 2 days of much needed attention from the Timber Lake Job Corps and 5 of Mr. Shroufe’s classes from Clackamas High School.  That is a lot of students working together to steward Rock Creek!

The students focused their attention on a section of the hillside facing the threat of landslides.  Since invasives have simple root structures the Armenian Blackberry covering the hillside was causing erosion.  It was high time that this hillside of Blackberry met its doom.

The six groups of students determinedly lopped and pulled Blackberry.  The thorns of the Blackberry tried to put up a fight, but alas, they were no match for the vigor of the students.  Soon all that could be seen on the hillside were the roots before they began to bury underneath the rocky soil.   Despite the rocks, the students will could not be broken as they continued their attack on the Blackberry – there was even a competition to see who could uncover the largest root!

The two day attack was successful and thanks to the hard work of Clackamas High School and Timber Lake Job Corps, the hillside is now cleared and ready to be planted with natives!

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!

Invasive Removal Marathon with Timber Lake Job Corps

Scotch Broom, Armenian Blackberry, Thistle, Celandine, you name it… we removed it. Timber Lake Job Corps showed up ready to work at Currin Creek last week. Students removed Scotch Broom the size of trees, blackberry roots that were encroaching on our stream, thistle that would have spread otherwise, and celandine in front of Estacada High School.

Scotch Broom is an invasive shrub often found in degraded areas. It is tough competition for native trees and shrubs, especially in forestry areas which have recently been logged. It grows very quickly and vigorously and can outcompete Doug Firs and other native trees. It can withstand intense weather and stays green year long and spreads its seed in the spring when it produces a yellow flower. TLJC students removed all the Scotch Broom in the visible vicinity before that yellow flower could form- preventing the spread of the awful invasive. Awesome work!

Lastly, we headed to the front of Estacada High School to find some macroinvertebrates in the Wade Creek. We found Small Minnow Mayflies, a really big Golden Stonefly, and aquatic earthworms. We totaled our Pollution Tolerance Index and found our number to be 7, which indicates poor water quality. We discussed how the season might have something to do with that number being low, and that stoneflies are fairly sensitive- indicating the water may not be all that bad. Students helped pack everything up, set the macroinvertebrates free into the creek, and headed back to campus. It is always incredible to see how much work TLJC can get done in one outing. We are so grateful for your help!!

Timber Lake Job Corps: Restoration Superheroes

This Thursday, Timber Lake Job Corps was awesome, Timber Lake is awesome. The remarkable amount of work, the quality of work, and the positive attitude of the students that they consistently bring out to our restoration sites never cease to impress us. This week, the Job Corps took a break from Currin Creek in Estacata and helped us out in Clackamas area. The first stop was Phillips Creek where they planted and mulched over 200 plants as well as made fresh willow stakes that will grow into new trees and removed some patches of invasive plants, all in 2 hours! This area of the creek was recently very disturbed and a complete overhaul was badly needed with lots of native plants, good thing we called in the Job Corps! Now with all of its newly planted native species, Phillips Creek never looked better. Despite the fact that they worked so hard at Phillips Creek, they were still eager to get more work done so they headed over to Rock Creek in Happy Valley to finish up planting and mulching 100 more plants, this time in a spring rainstorm! When we got back to the office, nobody believed the amount of work they got done. No words can adequately express our deep gratitude and fortune for being able to work with such a great group, and our watersheds were significantly improved because of the work they did this week. We certainly look forward to working with them soon!

Haulting Erosion with Plants!

Students from Timber Lake Job Corps and the sunshine joined us once again last week at Currin Creek.  We were also joined by our project funders, Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District staff.

Currin Creek, which flows behind Estacada High School, was altered during construction of a ball field behind the school, causing erosion.  Pacific Habitat Services did bank work to regrade the steep eroding banks and volunteers.   Estacada High School students, Timber Lake students, and community volunteers have been working with SOLVE to prevent further erosion by planting thousands of native trees and shrubs and constructing some bioengineered brush dams.

From DSL:

As applied to riparian restoration, bioengineering is a branch of engineering in which green woody plants are an integral part. Living plants and cuttings of plant stems are propagated and used as building materials for controlling erosion as well as for riparian restoration.

Timber Lake students constructed 10 bioengineered brush dams made of bundles of Willow, Black Cottonwood and Red Osier Dogwood branches which will root into the stream bed, providing soil stability.  The dams slow down the flow of the stream and trap sediment behind them to build the stream bed back up and prevent erosion.

From DSL:
 Conventionally, engineers have used only static inorganic materials that provide neither habitat for fish and wildlife, nor shade for the stream. Bioengineering techniques include effective, low cost methods for protecting and restoring riparian areas. Different species of willows and cottonwoods are used widely for bioengineering projects because they easily form roots on stem cuttings.
Thank you Timber Lake Job Corps students!  Thank you to Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District for funding this project!

Timber Lake Job Corps Working Hard at Currin Once Again

Volunteers from Timber Lake Job Corps came out to Currin Creek in Estacata again this week to continue the amazing amount of work they’ve been doing on this site. Despite the dreary weather, quicksand-like muddy banks, and nasty invasive species, the students completed another great day of work.

Currin Creek is our infamous site in which we are essentially building up a riparian zone from scratch. This creek was rerouted through an open field for construction purposes, and therefore has no appropriate trees or shrubs growing near it. It is in dire need of this stable riparian plant community on its banks otherwise it faces a miserable future of extreme erosion, loading the stream with large quantities of sediment, warm water, and very little wildlife. In less than two hours the 11 Job Corps students planted nearly 200 plants along the banks of the stream. Then they put their energies toward digging up the roots of a particularly thick patch of blackberry brambles which they also accomplished in record time. They even had some time to spare to dig out some scotch broom that has been slowly creeping back on this site.

We love working the the Job Corps at this site, and really appreciate all of their hard work, stamina, and sense of humor at the site.

Timber Lake Job Corps Bundles Up in February

Last Thursday, the amazing Green Team from the Timber Lake Job Corps went to work at our Currin Creek site in Estacata. Currin Creek had been rerouted several years ago, but without a stable riparian community of native plants, the stream has been quickly eroding, warming up, and has become generally unhealthy. Timber Lake Job Corps, SOLVE, and other community partners are working together to improve this stream, and recreate that riparian zone of trees and shrubs that should naturally be there.

First, the Job Corps Students helped us harvest cottonwood and other branches, which they cut and tied into bundles with fresh willow and spirea cuttings. These bundles will be placed as living dams along this intermittent stream (a stream that isn’t running above ground year round) to slow down the water and catch sediment. The fresh cuttings in the bundles will also take root, providing much-needed root stability along the bank, shade to keep the water cool, and a habitat for local wildlife. After creating the bundles, students got right to work planting new trees and shrubs to further build up that bank side community Currin Creek really needs.

These guys got a ton of work done in their 4 hours at the site, and we look forward to working with them next time when we will be placing those bundles in the stream.