Volunteers gather to restore Sauvie Island habitat

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A volunteer removes invasive English Ivy on Sauvie Island.Sauvie Island has long been a refuge for birdwatchers, hikers, kayakers and Sunday drivers seeking solitude. Its detached location and diverse habitats make the island an attraction for anyone looking to get away, and it commonly draws droves of Portlanders on the weekends and during the harvest season.

But to Jane Hartline, an island resident for 36 years and full-time volunteer with the Sauvie Island Habitat Partnership, the island is also a massive restoration project.

After retiring from her position as marketing manager at the Oregon Zoo two years ago, Heartline began volunteering with the Sauvie Island Habitat Partnership in order to identify local habitats on the island and catalogue the native plants that belong within them. Hartline uses this information to restore habitats on the island that have deteriorated throughout its development.

“I wanted to figure out what plants are supposed to be here and put them back,” she said.

Hartline has also outlined 11 priority projects in need of attention on the island, including turtle monitoring, landowner education, wildlife corridor native plantings, the un-clogging of Sturgeon Lake and more.

One of Hartline’s biggest projects has been islandwide removal of the invasive vine English ivy. One year ago, Hartline identified 38 sites in need of English Ivy removal on Sauvie Island. At this point, all but five of those sites have been treated. Several of the sites included stands of 40-60 trees with ivy vines as thick as seven inches in diameter, Hartline said.

Hartline’s first and biggest English ivy removal project took place on the 1.5-acre forest behind Sauvie Island Grange. With a grant from West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation and the help of 4-H, the Island Community and people SOLV had recruited, more than 50 volunteers put in almost 500 volunteer hours cutting, pulling and spraying English Ivy in the grange’s forest.

“Volunteers ranged in age from pre-teen 4-H’ers to a 90-year-old who helped prepare refreshments for volunteer work parties,” Hartline said.

Hartline wrote that after the ivy removal in the grange forest, native plants came back so strongly that she and her volunteers decided to only plant a few grand fir trees and a tall row of Oregon grapes along the property’s back fence to provide a screen from the neighbors.

The Sauvie Island School, which is adjacent to the grange, used the forest as an outdoor classroom.

“Fourth graders each had an assigned space in the forest,” Hartline said. “Teachers would incorporate math, art and poetry into the outdoor space and the kids would draw the animals that they saw.”

Once the ivy was completely removed, a network of trails was installed by the same crews that maintain the trails in Portland’s Forest Park.

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