Hundreds of volunteers clean up Johnson Creek

Two of the sites were in the outer East Portland neighborhoods of Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert. Take a look at what was accomplished …

At the foot of Powell Butte, volunteers plant an area beside a spring-fed tributary that flows into Johnson Creek, during the 2016 Johnson Creek Watershed Council Watershed-wide Event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

All along Johnson Creek, from inner Southeast Portland to through mid-County, east of Gresham, volunteers helped out the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) clean up and plant native species along its banks for three hours on the Saturday morning of March 5.

For three hours, hundreds of volunteers raked, pulled out weeds, and put in new plants, at several sites – two of them in the outer Southeast region.

With the help of about a dozen volunteers, this former blackberry bramble area will soon instead sprout hundreds of native plants.

Large groups turned out at the western edge of Powell Butte, and at the “Freeway Lands” site in Lents, as the JCWC Watershed-wide Event got underway.

“Today, our group of twelve volunteers is planting about 700 native plants here in Powell Butte Nature Park,” revealed JCWC Outreach Coordinator Danielle Miles.

Taking a brief break from the work are Portland Parks & Recreation East Portland Natural Area Stewardship Program coordinator David Grandfield, and JCWC Outreach Coordinator Danielle Miles.

“Earlier this winter, we cleaned out Himalayan blackberry bushes – lots of them – to get ready for this planting,” Miles told East Portland News. “And now, we are restoring this area to the wetland site that wants to be here.”

Through the ongoing work over the last few months, they discovered the area was a deer migration path. “We’re seeing a lot of deer tracks out here today. The deer will like the plants we’re putting in much better than the thicket of blackberries,” Miles commented.

Other natural areas have yet to be planted Miles said. “And, there are a number of groups that are helping to replant Powell Butte. There is also a Hands On Portland group, and Friends of Trees is also working here. We will be back out here on April 9 for a planting off of SE Circle Avnue.”

Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood’s Tamra Dickinson spreads mulch.

“Empty pots are a good thing,” says Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature East Susan Hawes, Stewardship Coordinator for the Johnson Creek watershed.

“This is a big day, as here, and in other places along Johnson Creek, the natural areas are getting well cared for,” commented Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature East Susan Hawes, Stewardship Coordinator for the Johnson Creek Watershed

“This annual event is important for several reasons,” Hawes said. “One is that it brings out a lot of volunteers who’ve never been to our sites along the creek before. It introduces those who come out to their local parks. As they get to know these natural areas, we hope they’ll continue to help take care of them.”

And, with a staff of about 15 Parks Bureau co-workers, the Hawes says they really appreciate the help. “We would not be able to get all of this done without volunteer help. These areas would not be nearly so well-cared-for without the community taking an active role in their stewardship.”

Volunteer Bob Cather digs out invasive plant species in the “Freeway Lands II” area of the Foster Road Floodplain.

Restoring a natural area that was trampled down in a homeless camp is the goal of these volunteers.

From Powell Butte, East Portland News trekked westward to the Lents neighborhood where a small-but-diligent cadre of volunteers were removing invasive plants from private property called “Freeway Lands II”, located just west of the Foster Road Floodplain.

Recently the site of a large homeless encampment, volunteers started the process of replanting native species trampled down and destroyed by the campers.

JCWC Executive Director Daniel Newberry says he’s grateful for the volunteers who turn out for their annual Watershed-Wide Event.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people to get together, as a community, and take care of mostly-public shared spaces,” said JCWC Executive Director Daniel Newberry as he checked in on one of the ten worksites.

“What’s really amazing is we get people who live outside our area to come and volunteer,” Newberry said. “I just talked with a family who live in White Salmon, Washington, who came back to Portland for this event because they grew up here.”

Newberry’s message to those helping: “This could not happen without you. It really makes a big difference, and people taking care of their own green spaces is why Portland is such a livable area.”

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

>> On our Front Page: Volunteer Linda Pregent cheerfully hauls another bucket of mulch into a work area.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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