Johnson Creek area preened by hundreds, at annual event

Take a look and see why hundreds of folks spend this beautiful Saturday morning digging, dragging and planting – all along Johnson Creek – from Gresham to the Willamette River …

Scattered across the steep hillside near SE 128th Ave. along the Springwater Corridor Trail, volunteers from the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association’s “Greening Committee” rip out invasive plant species, like ivy, and put in native plants during the 2010 Johnson Creek Watershed-wide event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
All along Johnson Creek, droves of volunteers came out to twelve sites to give this tributary to the Willamette River a good “spring cleaning” as the 12th Annual Johnson Creek Watershed-Wide event got underway on March 6.

“The actual work of removing invasive species of plants, replanting native greenery and removing trash is important,” said Johnson Creek Watershed Counsel’s (JCWC) executive director, Matt Clark, as he worked with a group of volunteers in SE Portland.

“In a larger sense, were creating stewards of the watershed,” Clark continued. “We’re helping people recognize the importance of taking care of our water, air, and plants and animals. And, we all benefit, even in our urban environment, improved water quality and increased habitat for the native species that live here.”

JCWC’s executive director, Matt Clark, works to clear brush with Dolores Wood, chair of PGNA’s “Greening committee”.

Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighbors “adopt” creek section
More than a dozen of the 335 people participated in the event were working at hillside near SE 128th Ave. along the Springwater Corridor Trail, in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association (PGNA).

Clark said he appreciated the work being done by volunteers from the PGNA’s Greening Committee. “The work they’re doing here is so important because it will stabilize the stream banks reduce erosion, keep the water cleaner and provide shaded, cool water for salmon, habitat for birds.”

Dolores Wood, chair of PGNA’s “Greening committee” was on site during the event. “We’ve ‘adopted’ this area and have planted about 4,000 wildflowers and native shrubs and small trees like Indian plum, and choke cherry.”

Because the area has been neglected for so many years, Wood said volunteers on her committee have made it a mission to eradicate Himalayan blackberries and other invasive species. “They were choking out native trees, and present fire hazard.”

As along-time resident of outer East Portland, Wood said their efforts were improving the quality of life for others in the area. “The work we do gives people who are on the Springwater Trail near Johnson Creek something pretty to look at, so they get out and have more exercise. We’re making this a ‘destination’ with beautiful flowers and plants growing; it really enhances the neighborhood.”

Hard at work, PGNA board member Tom Barnes tugs on non-native plants as he volunteers during the 2010 Johnson Creek Watershed-wide event.

Monthly events planned
According to Lori Sams, JCWC’s Community Outreach Coordinator, events scheduled for the first Saturday of the month are being planned.

On April 3, JCWC joins with the Portland Audubon Society as they host the “Lower Johnson Creek Bike Tour” from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.

JCWC’s Jim Labbe, Matt Clark and Theresa Huntsinger will host the 21-mile bike ride out the Springwater Corridor Trail to Gresham’s Linneman Station and back, stopping at several urban natural areas along the way. Bring your own bike, and helmets are required.

This free event starts at Sellwood Park on the south end of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Meet at the trail head for the Springwater Trail on the Willamette trail at the south end of Sellwood Park at the intersection of SE Spokane Street and SE Oaks Park Way. For more information, contact Ariana Longanecker by email at or call (503) 292-6855 x 112.

For more information about upcoming JCWC events, check their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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