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Preserving the preserve

A day of service event brings youth — and needed maintenance — to Hillsboro's Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve


HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Four-year-old Annika Welch manages a pitchfork as she spreads bark chips at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. When asked why she came to the preserve, Welch said: Because its helping the community. Some kids clean their rooms on Saturday mornings.

Others clean up public parks.

On April 16, more than 25 volunteers went to Hillsboro’s Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve to participate in a Global Youth Services Day event put on by the city’s Parks & Recreation Department and Students Pursuing Leadership and Serving Hillsboro (SPLASH).

Designed for energetic and outgoing kids, SPLASH pulls seventh- and eighth-grade Hillsboro students from Poynter, South Meadows, Brown, and Evergreen middle schools and gives them an opportunity to support their neighborhoods in significant ways.

Many SPLASH members go on to join other youth programs offered by the city, including the mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.

“These kids are civic minded individuals,” said Outdoor Stewardship Coordinator Scott Crowell. “At the bare minimum, I hope they take away a greater appreciation for volunteering and giving back.”

“I like being able to change things in the community,” said SPLASH member and South Meadows student Katelyn Eder. With a focus on inclusivity, Eder, 13, wants to see more examples of diversity at the wetlands and throughout the city. “It’s important to have signs in Spanish, and to offer activities all people can enjoy,” she said.

Following significant flooding during the winter, the wetlands habitat walking paths were in need of considerable maintenance and care. To help parks employees with the cleanup, SPLASH members and other volunteers laid fresh bark chips, raked pathways, and removed flood-caused detritus from two of the main pedestrian entrances.HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Four-year-old Annika Welch manages a pitchfork as she spreads bark chips at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. When asked why she came to the preserve, Welch said: 'Because it's helping the community.'

“The survival of the Preserve is a result of a remarkable partnership between individuals, businesses, and government agencies who see the wetlands as an irreplaceable community asset,” said Outdoor Recreation Manager Lori Prince. “We are powered by partnerships and the community, and we hope that more people join us as we work to protect this beautiful space.”

Also contributing to the wetlands Saturday event were 10 adult and child members of the Red Tricycle Brigade (RTB) — a nonprofit whose volunteers spread “hope, love, and joy through simple acts of kindness,” according to the organization’s website.

Together with SPLASH and other unaffiliated public volunteers, the RTB members navigated wheelbarrows of wood chips through the wetlands’ densely wooded areas, picked up litter, and carried armloads of broken tree branches to a great pile of collected debris. HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - SPLASH and Red Tricycle Brigade members spread new bark chips at the south pedetrian entrance to the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. More than 25 volunteers participated in the cleanup and restoration efforts April 16.

“I like seeing families come out and give back to the community and take a greater ownership of where they live,” Crowell said. “I also like connecting people to the outdoors and nature. I hope it sparks an interest to explore what Hillsboro’s other natural areas have to offer.”

“As an important bird area, the wetlands serve a purpose within our watershed as well as provide vital habitat for wildlife,” Prince said.HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Farmington View Elementary student Evan Redmond, 9, picks up trash that collected along the edges of the preserve following winter flooding.  Picking up the trash, Evan said, will help save animals because styrofoam is really bad for them. Other volunteers referred to him as the Litter pick-up rock star.

“Jackson Bottom is truly a sanctuary within the city. By providing education, protecting natural resources and planning for future generations, the passionate staff and volunteers at Jackson Bottom Wetlands work hard to serve the community that serves us.”

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - Farmington View Elementary student Evan Redmond, 9, picks up trash that collected along the edges of the preserve following winter flooding.  Picking up the trash, Evan said, will help save animals because styrofoam is really bad for them. Other volunteers referred to him as the Litter pick-up rock star.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: TRAVIS LOOSE - (006) Twelve SPLASH members took turns breaking down the day's schedule and offering safety tips for working in the preserve prior to beginning the Global Youth Services Day event.