The sun was shining and everyone was smiling as two county commissioners picked up a huge pair of scissors to cut the ribbon, celebrating the opening of the new Mount Scott Creek restoration project, held at North Clackamas Park on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Pictured from left are: Clackamas County Chair John Ludlow, Jeroen Kok and Mary Rose Navarro, natural areas grants coordinator. Far right, Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson helps County Commissioner Paul Savas cut the ribbon.The project qualified for a $150,000 Nature in Neighborhoods grant in 2010. Clackamas County Water Environment Services partnered with the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District and the city of Milwaukie to work on the project.

Planning and permitting took another year and a half, and in September 2012, construction began on the restoration of Mount Scott Creek.

The result of the project is 48,000 square feet of restored and protected riparian forest habitat. Also, large woody debris was installed to stabilize streambanks and provide fish habitat; two creek overlooks were built, so that the public can see the creek without degrading the banks; a trail and pedestrian bridge were constructed; and the culvert was removed at the Camas Creek confluence.

Before the ribbon cutting, Clackamas County Chairman John Ludlow told attendees that when he was a member of Rex Putnam High School’s Key Club in the 1960s, he had been part of a work party cutting back blackberries.

“The area has changed since that day,” he said, adding that he wanted to thank all the partners who came together to make the restoration a reality. He also noted that all the contractors were from Clackamas County.

“When I come out to a place like this, I am aware of the good work of all the watershed councils,” said Commissioner Paul Savas, who helped with the ribbon cutting.

“Water is a priceless asset, and we all need to respect and be aware of what we contribute to these waterways. It is great to come together and see a lot of people, who were all part of the equation,” Savas said.

Partnerships has results

Also in attendance at the event was Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson, who said that his city is the luckiest because it has access to “this tremendous asset.”

He said no single entity could have accomplished all the things that the partners in this project did together.

“It takes a true community partnership to do this,” Ferguson said.

This sentiment was echoed by Jeroen Kok, strategic planning, development and resource manager with NCPRD, and Gail Shaloum, environmental policy specialist with Clackamas County Water Environment Services, who thanked the 10 partners and numerous volunteers who came together for the project.

Kok told the group that the improvement of the sports fields at North Clackamas Park brought more people to the park in 2007, and that is when it was decided that the northern half of the park needed attention as well.

He said the hiring of Tonia Burns as the natural resources coordinator for NCPRD and the partnership with WES kickstarted the process of the restoration project.

The overall goal, Kok said, was to “control public access to the riparian area so that people had the ability to experience the area, but not degrade it.”

Surface-water management, the improvement and protection of water quality and the reduction of urban impact on Mount Scott Creek were the priorities of WES, Shaloum told the visitors.

Prior to the restoration, the creek was found to contain runoff from pesticides and fertilizers, and the creek itself did not have a lot of diversity.

“We installed 60 logs and root wads to stabilize the streambank and create nooks and crannies for the fish. The planting of native species provides shade to cool off the stream,” Shaloum said.

After the opening ceremony, Shaloum said she was happy to see so many people had turned out to show an interest in watershed health.

She also was pleased that the interpretive signs were installed at key points throughout the restored areas.

“I hope people will read them. Someone could come here and enjoy what they are seeing, but having a little more information helps you appreciate what has been done, and our ratepayers can understand what we are doing here,” she said.

Visit the two newly opened overlook decks at North Clackamas Park, located at 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive, in Milwaukie.

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