Creek council revels in successes, and raises funds

From Gresham to inner SE Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers work to clean and keep up the 26 miles of Johnson Creek. Read this article and see why their work is important … and how you can help …

Jeff Uebel, Chair of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, shares a moment with the organization’s executive director, Michelle Bussard, in the silent auction room at their annual meeting.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
From Gresham to inner SE Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers work to clean and keep up the 26 miles of Johnson Creek.

The leaders of the effort to restore the creek say their acts continue to pay off in measurable ways.

“We can quantify the result of our programs,” Michelle Bussard, Executive Director of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC), tells us, “with scientific measurements: The improvement in Johnson Creek’s water quality, and an increase in fish counts. Beyond this, we’re also gratified to see also see the ways land owners, with property along the creek’s bank, better steward their property.”

We are checking the progress of the JCWC at their annual open house and silent auction. “We invite the community in our watershed to come in and look at all the wonderful work we do as a result of the community’s investment in our work,” Bussard tells us as we glide through a room with banquet tables laden with exquisite dishes, like poached salmon, mounds of hummus, and salads.

In another room, in which patrons are bidding on a wide variety of items up for silent auction, we speak with Jeff Uebel, JCWC’s chair: “The proceeds of our silent auction support the on-the-ground work in the watershed.”

Uebel says they’ve expected to raise $5,000 ‚Äì funds they’re able to leverage with matching and in-kind contributions.

The Foghorn Duo keeps the atmosphere lively at Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s annual open house and auction.

How contributions pay off
Two of the group’s major projects this year, Bussard tells us as we look a large, colorful maps in their project room, have provided big and positive payoffs.

“First is the work we’ve done at Eastmoreland Golf Course,” Bussard continues. “We’ve removed invasive species in Johnson Creek, especially the Yellow Flag Iris. It crowds out the native plants. And we done really significant wetland restoration there.”

The other really big project, Bussard points out, was their “In-stream, Watershed Event” mounted in July. “Our objective was to remove trash, do a reconnaissance of the banks, and remove fish passage barriers.” 60 people worked on this project at four different sites.

“At these and smaller projects, it is very gratifying to see the stuff we’re able to pull out of the creek, and to see all that we are able to learn about its condition,” Bussard enthuses.

Importance of their mission
As their keynote speaker, Metro Chair David Bragdon, checks in, and as guests fill the facility, Bussard talks about JCWC’s mission. “It is all about the community investing in being good stewards of this watershed. It is about valuing this resource, Johnson Creek, in perpetuity. Ten years ago, the creek was decimated in many ways. Today, because of the work done by the community, organized by the council and our partners, we’ve seen some really positive changes.”

It is important, Bussard adds, to recognize their “partners” in their efforts to improve the creek’s hygiene. “We can’t do anything without the help of the cities of Portland, Milwaukie, Happy Valley, and Gresham ‚Äì and the two counties.”

Your invitation …
Metaphorically speaking, Bussard asks east Portlanders to consider “getting your feet wet” with the council. “We’re a fun group of caring people. Whether you’re an intern in our office, or you want to be involved in a volunteer group doing invasive removal and riparian plantings, there is no end of opportunities in which you can get involved here. There are so many ways individuals with many interests and areas of expertise can help.”

So here’s your invitation: “Let us take you on a tour of the watershed,” Bussard entreats. “You will be amazed when you travel the 26 miles of Johnson Creek’s main stream, and venture out around its tributaries. The treasures that exist are unimaginable. We really enjoy showing and sharing these treasures. Come join us.”

Find out more information by calling (503) 652-7477, or visit on the Internet.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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