by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Volunteer Michael Hayes, a SMILE Board member, and SNAC Chair Tina Osterink, a former SMILE Vice President, plant trees in the Aurora Lake area of the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.From all appearances, the area of Oaks Bottom in which volunteers were working could have been in a forest glade, on the sun-drenched Saturday morning of October 7.

The only telltale sign that they were planting trees in an urban area was the distinct sound of cars and trucks rumbling by, high up the bluff, along S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard.

“The area is called ‘Aurora Lake’, here in the north field of the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge,” explained Willamette River Natural Areas Stewardship Coordinator Marissa Dorais, of Portland Parks and Recreation. “It does look like being in the middle of the woods.”

The purpose for which about 20 volunteers had gathered, Dorais said, was to plant trees.

“These trees will ‘fill in the gap’ between one of our amphibian ponds and a woodland area,” Dorais continued. “The amphibians lay their eggs and breed in the pond, but they live their adult lives in the forested area. We’re trying to create a better connection for the frogs to get out of the pond, and into the woods, with lots of places to hide from predators along the way.”

One volunteer was the Chair of SMILE’s “Stewardship for Natural Amenities Committee” (SNAC), Tina Osterink. “We’re trying to revive ‘Friends of Oaks Bottom’ – we didn’t have anyone participating for several years.” The SNAC Committee also embraces the former SMILE Sustainability Committee.

But now, SNAC supporter Anna Philip has agreed to Chair the “Friends”, Osterink reported. “We will be doing many more of these plantings, and other projects, and hopefully getting other people to come back and volunteer with Friends of Oaks Bottom.”

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