Marshall High students win ‘Riffle Award’

Another ‘first’ for the school is another ‘last’ – now that they’ve been shut down. It was a first to be awarded for helping to clean and improve an important outer East Portland waterway. See who presented the award, and why they received it …

On their last day of the Advanced Biology class taught by Amy Lindahl (far right), Marshall High School juniors and seniors show off their 2011 Youth/School Riffle Award. JCWC photo by Noah Jenkins

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While Marshall High School seniors were attending their school’s campus for their last day – ever, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) was presenting two of their classes the esteemed 2011 Youth/School Riffle Award in Kaul Auditorium at Reed College.

JCWC’s Executive Director, Matt Clark, told us that the Marshall High students in Amy Lindahl’s Advanced Biology classes have been active “creek keepers” whose projects have benefitted Johnson Creek.

“Marshall High School began working with the Council last spring,” Clark said, “doing monitoring at several sites in the watershed. They presented their work at last year’s Annual Meeting.  This year, they expanded their monitoring efforts to include freshwater mussel surveys at several locations. For their continuing efforts, they’ve been presented with a Riffle Award.”

JCWC’s volunteer director, Amy Lodholz, welcomes Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz – who commented, “Johnson Creek Watershed Council does a lot of great work for the environment, and bringing people to work together on important issues and neighborhoods.”

Clark explained that a “riffle” is a place where water in a creek becomes faster moving, and thus signifies change at their May 26 annual meeting. “Each year, we gather to honor the positive changes that have taken place in the watershed, and honor those behind those positive changes.”

One of the year’s highlights, Clark said, was their increase in volunteerism. “Under the leadership of our volunteer coordinator, Amy Lodholz, we’ve tripled the number of volunteer hours given, over those in 2009. Another thing that we’re excited to announce, starting this summer, is the ‘Salmon Habitat Project’ at the mouth of Johnson Creek where it meets the Willamette River.”

Guests mingle in the lobby of Kaul Auditorium before the awards luncheon begins.

In addition to a luncheon, guests heard nationally-recognized artist Buster Simpson tell why he features environmental themes in his public works – some of which will be seen on the new Portland – Milwaukie Light Rail Line.

The envelope, please …
Clark said JCWC awards Riffle Awards in a total of five categories. This year’s other winners include:

Community Award

Zac Perry, Canyon restoration specialist at Reed College, stands next to JCWC executive director Matt Clark, who presents the Community Riffle Award to Reed College’s Ed McFarlane, Vice President and Treasurer, and Towny Angell, director of the facility’s operations.

“For well over a decade, Reed College has been working to restore Upper Crystal Springs Creek and Reed Canyon,” Clark told the gathering. “For the last several years, Steelhead Trout have been sighted (and captured on camera) using the fish ladder just downstream of Reed Lake. In 2010, Reed College implemented an ambitious habitat restoration project on Crystal Springs downstream of Reed Canyon. The project included re-meandering Crystal Springs Creek, installing large woody debris, and installing bioswales to capture and treat stormwater from 28th Avenue.”

About accepting the award, Reed College’s director of the facility’s operations, Towny Angell, said “Receiving this award is a culmination of a concerted effort on the part of many different people. . .  Historically, Crystal Springs has been highly revered by the college. It’s great to be involved in a period of time in which the energies have come together to complete the portion on the Reed campus.”

Individual: Ernie Francisco Award

Matt Clark presents the 2011 Ernie Francisco Award to Nicole Alexander.

“Nicole Alexander was a cheerful presence on the first annual Johnson Creek Days event committee in 2010,” Clark acknowledged.  “Nicole and her sister Tina developed the concept of Discovery Saturdays, a hands-on activity program for families and young children. She provided catering service at the Johnson Creek Art Show, and worked behind the scenes to ensure the show’s success. She is chairing this year’s Johnson Creek Days committee, which began in January 2011.

“Nicole has also represented JCWC at various outreach events, as a leading member of the Council’s volunteer Outreach Task Force. She has a passion for children’s environmental education, and has been pivotal in helping the Council develop new children’s activities. Nicole has helped the Council find new donors, including a print sponsor for this year’s Johnson Creek Days materials. She has served over 40 hours for the Council in 2010 and continues to devote hours to JCWC events and outreach in 2011.”

“It’s very nice of them to give me recognition,” Alexander said in response. “I care about increasing the community awareness of the watershed, and having everybody learn what they can do to make things better for all of us.”

Public Entities

Matt Clark presents the Public Entities Riffle Award to Clackamas County Water Environment Services’ Community Relations Specialist Amy Kyle, and Public Relations Assistant Gari Johnson.

“In 2010, Clackamas County Water Environment Services installed sewer lines in a portion of unincorporated Clackamas County near Johnson Creek,” Clark explained while presenting the award, “These will improve water quality in the creek. Recently, Clackamas WES and JCWC staff and volunteers collaborated on native re-vegetation along the creek at Mill Park, as part of mitigation for impacts from sewer installation in the area.”

Additionally, Clark said that Milwaukie Bowl was presented with a Business Riffle Award for hosting two bowling fundraisers for JCWC’s benefit, helping the Council raise over $600 in 2010 and $800 in 2011.

To learn more about the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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