Volunteers honored at Columbia Slough fete

Enjoy these images of their ‘big night’, when hundreds came to celebrate the progress made by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council – and to raise funds to continue the work …

Greeters Carole Henson, Linda Robinson, and Marilyn Burns welcome guests to the 2012 “Slough Celebration”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Usually stories featuring folks involved with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC) – those who look after and preen the inland waterway that parallels the Columbia River from Gresham nearly to the I-5 Freeway – show them dressed in work clothes and boots, or in kayaking gear. But not this time.

  • See our story about CSWC volunteers planting native species in Wilkes Creek Park: CLICK HERE.
  • Look at all the fun CSWC folks had at their annual Slough Regatta last summer: CLICK HERE.

For their 13th Annual Slough Celebration, on February 10, though, the participants were elegantly dressed – as they participated in a silent auction, dinner, and awards ceremony.

Susan “Sloughsan” Barthel, from the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services – and she’s also CSWC’s Secretary – pausesfor this photo with Council Chair Ulysses Cooley.

“It’s good to see that so many people appreciate what we do,” said CSWC Board Chair Ulysses Cooley. “That’s why we have such a large turnout here tonight. These people really appreciate the fact that this watershed has a council that’s looking out for its best interests, and are here to support us. It’s really quite a thrill.”

Action swirls around the silent auction tables, and participants keep an eye on items they wish take home.

Two of the more than 200 guests, Parkrose’s Janelle and Joshua Singleton, find their seats before the banquet.

“This is our annual event – at which we recognizing the good work of people who help to protect the Columbia Slough,” CSWC Director Jane Van Dyke explained.

Instead of trying out a new program, Van Dyke said, they’re sticking with their “winning formula of having a great dinner, and recognizing award winners – including ‘roasting’ them a little, in our home-made videos.”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Wilkes Community Group’s long-time Chair (now retired) Alice Blatt, and CSWC Director Jane Van Dyke prepare to pass serving bowls as the banquet begins.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz reminded East Portland News that she’s been a long-time supporter of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. “I think this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve attended this event, and I’ve been to their Regatta every year. It’s the only time I get to go paddling!”

She continues to support the work, Fritz added, “Because they bring out wonderful volunteers, and have a great staff that has done amazing things in the Columbia Slough watershed.”

Nancy Dolphin contributes to CSWS during the Appeal, as her husband, Bob Dolphin, happily “nets the catch”.

And the award winners are …

Megan Hanson, City of Portland Clean Rivers Education Program says she appreciates receiving a 2012 Leadership Award.

“Since 2002, Megan Hanson has worked with Slough School staff to co-facilitate and teach classroom programs, field trips, and canoe trips, for local school groups.  She reaches over 8,000 student contacts annually, sharing a passion for nature and science with elementary, middle, and high school students.”

CSWC Secretary Susan Barthel presents Alan Hipólito, Executive Director of Verde, a 2012 Leadership Award.

“An enterprise offspring of Hacienda CDC, Verde’s focus is empowering low-income people, and people of color, to create strong neighborhood economies through environmental work.  Verde provides tree planting, habitat restoration services, and native plant nursery services, as well as weatherization, multicultural youth education, and leadership for ‘Let’s Build Thomas Cully Park’.”

CSWC Director Jane Van Dyle presents architect David Kennedy a 2012 Achievement Award for his work on the Watershed Education Center.

“David Kennedy took a lead role in planning the new Watershed Education Center, located at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park in NE Portland.  Offering his services pro-bono, he drew up concept ideas, completed the drawings and work for the ‘Change of Occupancy’ permit, and secured donations for materials and fixtures for the renovation.”

Long time supporter Alice Blatt and Director Jane Van Dyke present Hillary Wilton of METRO, Deb Lev from Portland Parks & Recreation, Shannah Anderson of the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and Leif Anderson from METRO each a 2012 Achievement Award for their work on the CSWC Natural Area Land Acquisition Team

“In 2011, the Natural Area Land Acquisition Team had two significant achievements: The acquisition of Wilkes Creek Headwaters, and the Columbia Slough Natural Area.  These two sites will add creek habitat, active park space, Middle Slough access for kayakers, and Columbia Slough Trail space within the eastern portion of the watershed.”

Keri Handaly and Jane Van Dyke flank Jamie Stamberger, as they present her and the City of Gresham a 2012 Achievement Award, for restoration work done to Fairview Creek.

“Jamie Handaly has worked since 2006 to restore creek side habitat along Fairview Creek, a major Slough tributary, in Gresham.  Working with landowners, she developed a large restoration partnership that has, to date, cleared a half acre of invasive plants, and installed nearly 1,000 native plants.”

The evening continues with dinner – and later, dancing to live music.

Funds raised to help support organization’s work
All tallied, Van Dyke later reported that the evening’s silent auction and appeal brought in about $23,000. “Because this is our annual fundraiser, we’re thrilled at the continued support and generosity of our friends.”

To learn more about the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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