Volunteers tidy up Johnson Creek’s watershed

Find out just where, in the Lents neighborhood of outer East Portland, some three dozen volunteers came to help out …

Volunteers get instructions before they head out to work, at this year’s Johnson Creek Watershed Council “Watershed-Wide Event”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For those who enjoy getting dirty, volunteering with friends, and helping restore a natural resource, the morning of March 4 was their time to shine – at the 2017 Johnson Creek “Watershed-Wide” clean-up.

At all of the ten sites, from the Willamette River out through Gresham, a total of about 400 volunteers planted 7,000 trees and removed five acres of invasive species, reported Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) Volunteer Coordinator Courtney Beckel.

In about three hours, hundreds of volunteers cleaned up Johnson Creek, says JCWC Volunteer Coordinator Courtney Beckel.

“It’s an important day, because the community is coming together – working with restoration science to improve water quality, enhance habitat for native species, and build a sense of community while doing it,” Beckel told East Portland News.

Also, there’s a beautification element, she added.

“Other than dirty hands, the volunteers walk away today with a sense of accomplishment,” Beckel observed. “It helps them to develop a sense of place and help them create ownership of their local natural places. And, they’ll feel more of a part of the restoration that helps to invite salmon back into Johnson Creek.”

Johnson Creek can’t be seen from this vantage point, but volunteers near the Foster Road Floodplain are clearly visible as they work.

This year, the only outer East Portland site hosted during the JCWC Watershed-wide Event was the Freeway Lands Company property in the Lents neighborhood, near the Foster Road Floodplain.

Last year, at this time, dozens of volunteers finished cleaning out debris left by campers, and started to restore the land near Johnson Creek.

JCWC Riparian Program Manager Noah Jenkins says they’re picking up where the left off after last year’s Watershed-wide Event.

“Since then, we’ve done some planting of native trees and shrubs in this area, some right along the creek, and some back up on the flat land,” said JCWC Riparian Program Manager Noah Jenkins.

“This year, we have about 40 volunteers hand pulling a number of different invasive plants that are present on the site, including ivy, butterfly bush, Himalayan blackberry, and a little bit of garlic mustard,” Jenkins said.

Lents residents Zeke Schultz and Robert Schultz dig in alongside Johnson Creek.

“We appreciate the support of the Freeway Lands Company, that we’ve been getting for six or seven years now, to do planting on different parts of the property,” commended Jenkins.

Around noon, after cleaning off their tools, all of the volunteers, from all of the sites, turned their attention to a pizza party at the headquarters of the JCWC to celebrate their success.

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

>> On our Front Page: Lents neighbor Maggie Starr says she enjoys the natural area, and is glad to “give back” by volunteering.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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