Volunteers pitch in to groom Wilkes Park

Find out why the work they were doing was more significant than just painting a swing set . . .

University of Portland student Thao Nguyen emerges from Wilkes Park to load up with more of the bark dust that volunteers are spreading around newly-planted native bushes and trees.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A small group of hard-working volunteers came from all over the metro area to lend a hand at Wilkes City Park, on the morning of Saturday, May 31.

Specifically, this “work party” was focused on preening the natural area around Wilkes Creek, located at the north end of this outer East Portland park.

CSWC Stewardship Director Adam Thompson and Portland Parks’ seasonal worker, Scott Matthews, fix the split-rail fence along NE 154th Avenue.

“This is a cooperative effort of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council (CSWC), the Wilkes Community Group, and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R),” remarked CSWC Stewardship Director Adam Thompson.

“One of the reasons we’re involved,” Thompson said, is that Wilkes Creek is one of the main tributaries to the Columbia Slough. Protecting it is very important to the overall health of the Columbia Slough Watershed.”

Wilkes Community Group Board Member Jill Shepard Erickson trims back bushes along Wilkes Creek.

He enjoys working with people who come out and volunteer their time on a summer-like Saturday morning like this one, Thompson told East Portland News. “They could be doing something else. It’s great to see that people care so much about coming out here in developing their resources and time; it means a lot.”

Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature East Stewardship Coordinator Susan Hawes agreed. “It’s wonderful to have these partnerships, like those with these two organizations, who brought out twelve volunteers today.”

Portland Parks & Recreation City Nature East Stewardship Coordinator Susan Hawes gets help bringing in mulch from volunteers Kalera Stratton and David Sessum.

Volunteer events like these help PP&R’s mission, Hawes reflected. “We would not be able to do what we do without volunteers. There are so many properties that Portland Parks manages, and we have a very limited staff to manage those areas. Having community volunteers come out and help us – we’re able to finish projects and get a lot done in one day.”

Another part of mission, she added, is to “involve citizens in our work. These are parks for the citizens of Portland, so we love it when neighbors get involved in the process of taking care of them and stewarding these parks.”

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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