Cross country and track teams pitch in

A more than three-year project to improve Springbrook Park’s paths finishes this Friday.

Lake Oswego High School cross country and track team members are almost done laying gravel on 1.9 miles of paths in the 52-acre park. An Eagle Scout also earned his wings by naming the paths and constructing signs for SUBMITTED FILE PHOTO: PAUL LYONS - Lake Oswego High School volunteers, from left, Christy Wood, Olivia Anderson, Kevin Le and Josh Nudelman in April 2012 helped spread gravel at Springbrook Park. All students shown here but Le, who is a senior, graduated last year.

“It gives me a lot of confidence in our youth when these kids show up,” said Paul Lyons, a co-founder of Friends of Springbrook Park.

Lake Oswego head track coach Eric Lider asks his cross country students to help out in the fall and the track team to pitch in during a school’s community service day in the spring. Lider said the park is crucial to the teams’ training. The cross country team high-tails it down the Springbrook paths during training, and the track team rushes past the hardwood trees, red cedars and Douglas firs in the spring.

The trees shade the students when the sun is beating down on them, and using the park paths is a better option than pounding the pavement along Country Club Road, Lider said.

“It’s a way to get the kids off the street in a safe environment,” he said.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: PAUL LYONS - Lake Oswego High School students, from left, Josh Nudelman, Christy Wood and Lauren Zurcher kept things rolling at Springbrook Park last year.LOHS senior Alex Tymchenko has been shoveling and hauling gravel for the entirety of the Springbrook Park project. Tymchenko said it makes sense to perform community service.

“We can’t take advantage of all these resources that we are given to use,” said Tymchenko, 17.

Lyons has taken tons of photos, and in many of them students are beaming, which senior Madi Egan said is not surprising, even though the work isn’t easy.

“The whole team is there, and everyone is rallied around that central cause: I think it’s easy to be upbeat about it,” said Egan, 17.

Eagle Scout Connor Kelly said his time on the track and cross country teams inspired him to focus on the park when he was seeking the the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank. Kelly also lives near Springbrook Park and frequents the trails with his family.

His youngest sister inspired him to name the trails after the plants that spring up around them, such as trillium, snowberry, cedar and white oak. His family and Boy Scout Troop 71 helped him soldier through the five-month project.

“I wanted to do something that would last,” he SUBMITTED PHOTO: PAUL LYONS - Lake Oswego High School volunteers helped spread gravel at Springbrook Park last year.

Lyons and three other area residents launched the effort to improve Springbrook Park 10 years ago. At the time, the park was blanketed in weeds and bereft of paths. The students helped him change that.

The city used to allocate about $5,000 per biennium for the park, and now it’s about half that with most of the funding going toward plants and gravel, he said. It’s difficult to round up a pack of volunteers as large as the crowd of students who readily offer assistance, making their services critical to park maintenance, Lyons added.

He expects the trails to last for five to 10 years, although they may need some patching. He doesn’t want students to stop helping now that the paths are done because there’s plenty to do, including yanking invasive ivy out of the earth and assisting with an upcoming watershed restoration project. But, whatever they’re doing to help, the students boost his spirits.

“I really enjoy being around them, the energy, the camaraderie, the teamwork,” Lyons said.

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