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Tis the season to explore regions natural areas

Guest Column

Imagine this … It was an early, chilly, rainy Saturday morning in November. Did I really want to get out of bed this early to join in a natural area's restoration effort in the rain?

It took a little mental coaxing to leave the dry warmth of home but I'm sure glad I did!

Two voter approved bond measures have thus far preserved 11,000 acres, 90 miles of river and stream banks, and supported hundreds of community projects in and around our region.

Metro and community partners have a variety of done-in-a-day and ongoing restoration projects available at parks and natural areas across the region, suitable for groups of all sizes and ages.

Together, we're protecting water quality, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities for future generations.

On that early November morning, I joined 15 other adults and children in an effort sponsored by the Tualatin Riverkeepers.

Not far from my Beaverton area home, we worked on a Metro-owned property to help plant a natural area along the Tualatin River.

As one of my fellow planting volunteers put it, 'I thought I'd participate to just help out, but I've learned so much!'

We planted 1,000 camas bulbs, a native plant that has a lovely flower when it blooms in the spring. They were small bulbs about the size of your fingernail. Along with my 15 volunteer-mates, we planted those two small lunch-sized sacks of bulbs in no time.

We also spread two types of native grasses, seeding two different areas of the property, one open and one wooded.

Along the way, we heard from the property manager about the science of the area and how it has changed with restoration efforts over the last few years, providing a healthier flood plain for the Tualatin River, and plant life to sustain bugs, red-legged frogs, birds and more.

We got to explore the property, the handsome oak tree, discovered mushrooms, wasp 'oak apples' and deer too. All that in less than two hours, plus a little travel time.

Fall, winter and wet spring months are the best times for these restoration planting efforts, hence the November project. But it was more than a feel-good, help-nature program.

When I turn on my faucet at home, I receive drinking water that had originally flowed from a reservoir to the treatment plant via the Tualatin River.

When I flush my toilet, after that sewage is treated, the clean water flows into the Tualatin River.

When it rains, storm water flows from our neighborhoods and sidewalks into creeks throughout Washington County which ultimately flow into the Tualatin River.

No doubt about it, the Tualatin River can't get away from feeling the impact of us urban folk. Our livelihood depends on the health of the river. And the health of the river and the wildlife that rely upon it, depend on us.

Restoration planting efforts in natural areas help restore floodplains that clean our water, and offer habitat to wildlife that depend on the river.

Restoration efforts all over Washington County are connected to the health of the Tualatin River. I know my efforts that morning helped.

No matter your motivation, why not join in the restoration efforts? It's fun, it's educational and it just plain makes you feel good. The butterflies, bugs, birds and frogs will be happy you did!

- Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington represents District 4, which stretches from Cedar Hills to Forest Grove. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..