Fall Back to Planting with Roots and Shoots

On Tuesday, our Resources for Health Roots and Shoots Green Team met at Ryland Park in Cornelius to start planting some much-needed trees and shrubs along Council Creek.

Council Creek has received a lot of pressure from agriculture and urban development and as a result, the riparian habitat has turned into an open grassy meadow choked with reed canary grass. This invasive robust grass has been growing so densely and tall (over 9 feet!) that there is no chance for any native woody plants to even have a chance to take root and start growing.  This very degraded site will soon be home to over 2,000 new trees and shrubs that will be planted there this year by community groups and Green Teams alike. With their help we can transform this desert of a wetland into a thriving biodiverse riparian community.

Our Roots and Shoots Green Team got the season’s planting off to a nice start as we planted over thirty Sitka willow plants along the creek. The dense root mats from the grass and the sticky mud made things a little difficult but this Green Team didn’t care! They took on the mud head first, literally, and found a lot of humor when the ground “spoke” as holes were dug and the sounds of the suctioning mud rang throughout the site. A pair of Red-Winged Blackbirds nesting at the site also found some good humor in the work and decided to sing some beautiful songs and show off their displays for the very diligent and hard workers.

We are very excited for the potential of this site and the hard work of the Resources for Health Roots and Shoots Green Team have gotten off to a great start!

A lesson for a lifetime

When Hannah, a senior from Glencoe High School, contacted SOLV for a job shadow experience we quickly put her interest and experience in environmental science to work!  She offered to help lead Rachel Carson Middle School students at Willow Creek over several Wednesdays.  Hannah has been a HUGE help educating students in the field and keeping them focused, enthusiastic and informed about restoration activities like caging natives to protect them from beaver and coffee bagging natives to shade out Reed Canary Grass.

After learning about restoration activities happening at Willow Creek, Hannah realized just how much a similar Reed Canary grass invaded wetland next to her school could benefit if students became actively involved.  Glencoe High is located right next to McKay Creek, a very high priority waterway for restoration in the Tualatin Basin.  So she rallied some students, friends and teachers together on a sunny Saturday to plant several native Douglas Fir trees along the natural area not only to enhance habitat and water quality but to also honor eight retiring teachers at Glencoe High.

Hannah did not stop there, during her Saturday event students and teachers also harvested about 30 Red Osier Dogwood cuttings and installed them in the wetland to enhance biodiversity in the area.  She is also encouraging students and teachers to continue her work at McKay Creek.

Thank you Hannah for all your work this spring!  You have truely been an inspiration to many and we know you’ll do great things in the future!

Kids and Critters at Willow Creek

Willow Creek was a buzz of activity this week with Deer Park students planting on Tuesday and 60 students from Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School visiting the site on Wednesday.   

Rachel Carson students installed coffee bags around native plants and shrubs along the creek after removing old and new-growth of invasive reed canary grass.  These coffee bags will biodegrade in a short time, but allows the plant to get a head start without pesky weeds and invasives competing for light and space.  After maintaining existing plants, students harvested willow cuttings from the site and installed live stakes along the stream to eventually provide soil stabilization and shade.

Students also helped tweak our native turtle habitat that we will be working on for the next year or so; biologists from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been really helpful in directing our building efforts of this habitat.  We hope that within coming years, native western pond and western painted turtles will live and lay their eggs at the site. 

Though we haven’t seen any turtles yet, wildlife was out and about at Willow Creek this week!  Students saw a large blue heron, mallards, garter snakes, Pacific tree frogs and even a nest of native gray tailed vole babies!  From the Smithsonian website:

One of several voles with very small ranges, Gray-tailed Voles live only in lower-elevation grasslands. They do well in agricultural areas. They are excellent swimmers and can often escape flooding that way.

Students used great care when they discovered the nest and were able to observe four voles out and about in their nest.  Check out this OPB video about “vole holes!”