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Letters to the Editor

Nature park is a special place

Nob Hill Nature Park is a small, oak-woodland natural area in St Helens. The Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park is an all-volunteer group of parks stewards. We are thankful to all in the community who have come out this year to help. We had a good turnout at both our semi-annual work parties, held on the first Saturday in April and November. Fortunately, the weather was good on both days.

In April, we used a wheelbarrow to bring in loads of gravel provided by the city to our lower trail. Since it gets wet and swampy in winter, the new, firmer gravel trail bed will greatly improve conditions for walkers. We also pulled ivy off the ground a short way above the lower trail area. We could see trillium and fawn lily in bloom in abundance.

In August we built a new 16-foot boardwalk, near the Third Street trailhead. That area has running water across the trail during the wet season, so it became very muddy last spring from the trail being used so much. With donated wood, a small group of volunteers constructed it in place. Then we had to wait for many months, until late November, to see water actually running beneath our new bridge. New gravel there has also improved the footing.

In November, we had a good group, including some Cub Scouts from Scappoose. Thanks to Chas McCoy at Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, we had an array of native plants for those eager workers to put in. We planted them in the area around the lower bridge. Since it had been rainless for a long time, the ground was still dry. Fortunately, the rains came back shortly after our planting day. We also had mulch available to help retain moisture and suppress weeds at the base of each new plant. Some of the plantings include yarrow, thimbleberry, willow, spirea and red twig dogwood.

Since deer love to munch on new plants, we went back and screened some of them with chicken wire. Part of the group also pulled ivy from along the trail’s edge.

Each work party helps improve the park a lot and it is slowly reverting to a more natural state. Oak woodland was once common throughout the Willamette Valley, covering up to 2 million acres. Today it is considered a rare and valuable habitat, so we are fortunate to have this special place.

We also thank the city of St Helens for providing gravel for trails, and the Columbia River PUD for a large pile of free mulch, waste from nearby line-trimming, that will be put to use in a myriad of ways.

To visit the park, take Gable Road at WalMart in St Helens. Go toward the river. Bear right on Plymouth Street and go until you see the wastewater treatment plant on your right. There is plenty of easy parking at the water treatment plant across from the park’s main entrance. We hope to see you at our next work party, on Saturday, April 6, or in the park this winter.

Caroline Skinner

St. Helens