Volunteers plant trees to cover reclaimed junkyard

Look, and see why folks are revegetating a part of outer East Portland that’s seldom visited …

Set against the backdrop of the area’s largest auto wrecking yard, volunteers plant native species in a corner of the Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though the thick clouds overhead threatened rain at any moment, volunteers were out working to restore an area of the Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge in the Lents neighborhood.

A short trail leads in through the higher ground of the 20-acre wildlife refuge, on SE 111th Avenue between SE Foster Road and SE Harold Street; but most of this natural area is usually a bog, or even completely underwater in the wet season.

Volunteers from the Nature Conservancy were working in the refuge’s southwest corner, on February 9.

Volunteer April Ann Fong mulches newly-planted bushes along with City Nature East Stewardship Coordinator Susan Hawes of Portland Parks & Recreation.

What’s unusual about this location is that – on the south and west – the natural area is bordered by one of the area’s largest vehicle wrecking yards, near the Springwater Trail.

“Being here, right next to a vehicle-crushing yard, is an interesting juxtaposition,” observed Portland Parks & Recreational City Nature East Stewardship Coordinator Susan Hawes.

“This well illustrates how some of our urban natural areas are located right next to business and industry,” Hawes remarked to East Portland News. “But yet, we are able to create and manage a natural area, right here.”

Many people ask about the rather odd name for the refuge, Hawes noted. “It’s named after native sunflower, ‘Bidens Alba’, more commonly known as ‘Beggars Tick’ or ‘Beggars-Tick’.”

Volunteer Jeff Clark plants a snowberry bush to help provide greater eco-diversity in the refuge.

This isn’t the first time volunteers from the Nature Conservancy have come to work in this area, Hawes said.

“In previous years we’ve planted other species, including trees. Today, we’re planting snowberry shrubs to fill in around those trees. Hopefully this adds a little more variety and diversity to the site, for the wildlife.”

Folks volunteer for this “dirty work” for many reasons, they say.

Demonstrating her love of native plants is volunteer Melissa Reich, who installs native species in Beggars Tick Wildlife Refuge.

“I come out here because I love to plant native plants,” said volunteer Melissa Reich. “And, you get to spend time with nice people – no matter the weather!”

Hawes observed, “Volunteers are critically important to our mission. We really could not do it without them. We have an incredible number of volunteers who give an incredible number of hours to our mission of restoring our natural areas.”

She says that volunteers mostly tell her that contributing their services gives them the feeling that they’re doing something good – helping out both the environment and the community.

“And, there are definitely social aspects,” Hawes added. “Pitching in together gives us all a greater sense of community. And, people say it’s a good way to get outside and be active.”

Another reason to volunteer, Hawes added, “Is that a lot of people say they didn’t know a lot of these natural areas existed in Portland. But when they come out they get to see them, it makes them appreciate their city even more.”

> To learn more about the Parks Bureau’s “Nature” programs, see their web pages: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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