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Volunteers, nonprofit improve stream habitats

Private landowners can get free help restoring habitat on Clackamas Basin tributaries
by: BRIAN PASKO Volunteers pull weeds and plant native species near the North Fork of Deep Creek in Boring last February during the third annual “Valentine for the Clackamas” event in Boring. On Feb. 11, the fourth annual event will begin at 9 a.m.

Not much comes free these days, but a nonprofit environmental group is offering to remove invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy, reed canary grass, knotweed or garlic mustard and replant with native trees and shrubs.

Not only is this first effort free, the group is vowing to get volunteers to help maintain renovated streamsides for two years after the initial renovations.

From a list of 24 species, the Clackamas River Basin Council will choose about a dozen for any specific site, including grand fir, big leaf maple, red alder, red osier dogwood, Oregon ash, Indian plum, Douglas fir, swamp rose, salmon berry and others.

'We'll be using grand fir at sites where beavers are a problem because they don't like the taste of grand fir,' said Jenny Bieger, river council project manager.

Landowners in the Boring/Estacada areas will be the beneficiaries of this effort, which at its roots has the goal of improving stream habitat for fish and wildlife native to riparian areas.

Clackamas River

The focus is in the Clackamas River basin and all of its tributaries, and the offer is available to anyone with stream frontage, with priority given to those most in need of restoration - especially to unshaded, weed-infested waterways.

'We'll get rid of your invasive weeds that are real problems,' said river council member Rebecca Walker, as if she were talking to a private land owner. 'These species limit your enjoyment of your property, and they're hard to take care of. This will be done at no cost to you.'

The river council has received grant money from PGE to help pay for the plant material and other costs associated with this project the group is calling Shade Our Streams.

Deep Creek in Boring

For the fourth year in downtown Boring, river council members will be joined by Friends of Boring Station Trailhead Park and the Boring/Damascus Grange to work alongside the North Fork of Deep Creek on land owned by the grange.

They'll also be joined by other volunteers: local residents, school students and members of the Timber Lake Job Corps.

This is the final effort to finish the work at this site, according to Bieger, who said the group will plant 900 more trees and shrubs, nearly doubling the amount of plant material spread out over the area that used to be overrun with ivy and blackberries.

Shade Our Streams

Overall, the Shade Our Streams project will plant 300,000 trees and shrubs - purchased at local nurseries - to renovate more than 30 miles of streamside habitat.

One of the goals is to plant enough trees that will soon provide shade over the stream, Walker said.

'Landowners will be able to reap the benefits of having healthy riparian habitats,' she said, 'which includes improved property value, less soil erosion, and more habitat for wildlife.'

Besides shading and cooling the water, making it better for fish and aquatic life, the project will provide better habitat for mammals and birds.

Even more important, it will limit the amount of farm chemicals that enter the stream.

'(Tree and shrub roots) help to filter water and slow runoff before it enters the stream,' Walker said. 'That keeps the water cleaner for everybody. (Streamside plantings) help to reduce turbidity and water temperature, but also filter out pesticides and fertilizers that run into the river.'

Major tributaries targeted with this project are in the North Fork Deep, Doane and Dolan sub-watersheds of the Clackamas basin. These streams - which include mainly Deep Creek, Eagle Creek and Clear Creek - have populations of Coho salmon and steelhead as well as cutthroat and rainbow trout.

For more information about the river council or to volunteer for the Feb. 11 work party in Boring, call Walker or Bieger at 503-303-4372, ext. 101, or visit clackamasriver.org/events or the Facebook page 'Shade Our Streams Work Party.'

If you go

What: Stream restoration of North Fork of Deep Creek.

Where: Just east of Richey Road near Highway 212

When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

Who: Anyone interested in improving the quality of life for wildlife and plants.

Why: To improve the environment around the Cazadero Trailhead and encourage native plant growth as well as tree shade over Deep Creek.