An International Exchange

Imagine that you're visiting Englewood Park on a Tuesday morning in June, walking along Fanno Creek as it travels through Tigard.  You see a group of about a dozen people walking together, stopping frequently to talk, consult their iPads, and call attention to the plants and wildlife around them.  You overhear one of them talking about an organization whose main objective is "...the conservation and restoration of [their watershed], for the preservation of the natural ecosystems and their biodiversity, with the inhabitants of the rural communities,"

If you think you've stumbled across a group of Tree For All folks, you're only partly right. On June 6, a handful of Clean Water Services staff had the opportunity to meet with a delegation from the Laja Watershed, in central Mexico. The mission statement quoted above is that of an associated group called Salvemos al Rio Laja. 

Delegation members bring extensive experience in watershed management, GIS, forestry education, and agricultural engineering. They were in Oregon as part of the Willamette-Laja Twinning Project, which creates opportunities for restoration leaders in the two watersheds to learn from each other. 

Englewood Park is one of the longest-established Tree For All sites. CWS restored native vegetation in 2004, and beaver returned about five years later. It proved the perfect site for a long and rich conversation on many topics, including:

  • The remeandering of stream channels as a way to prevent continued degradation;
  • The names of native and introduced plants at the site;
  • Beavers as a keystone species that creates habitat for other species;
  • Funding sources;
  • Community engagement, through community science projects, schools, and planting events;
  • Culturally sensitive ways of planning and framing volunteer activities.

While exploring the eBird app, the group was delighted to discover that they weren't the first Englewood Park visitors from their part of Mexico. It turns out that robins migrate between Guanajuato state and Tigard. Fortunately, restoration advocates are now following the same path--in both directions!

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Visit the Willamette River Initiative Site to view a presentation about the Willamette-Laja Twinning Project. View the Fanno Creek case study to learn more about Tree For All activities in this area. 

Getting ready for the Farmington Paddle Launch

In the summer of 1958, the Tualatin River was so depleted by the time it reached the community of Farmington that a person could easily straddle it. Look at that location now! The river at that same location is flowing strong enough to host the newest access point on the Tualatin River Water Trail.

On June 24, come to Discovery Day and celebrate this site as a visible symbol of the difference that Tree For All partners are making. The 28th Annual Tualatin Riverkeepers event is combined with the grand opening of Farmington Paddle Launch

Plants and Trees Foster a Safe and Healthy Environment

Plants and trees clean our water, soil, and air — making our environment a safer and healthier place to live. Our health starts with the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, so it stands to reason that our health is closely connected to our environment.
 
While trees are often recognized for providing us with oxygen, they don’t get enough credit for also filtering the air we breathe. Trees remove harmful pollutants from the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particulate matter. 
 
When we bring nature back into our neighborhoods, the air we breathe is cleaner and, in turn, our communities are healthier. Reducing air pollution particles has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and lung diseases including asthma. In fact, US Forest Service scientists calculate that trees save more than 850 million lives a year and prevent 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory failure. 
 
Trees also clean up pollutants in our soil and water, protecting local water quality. By reducing groundwater runoff and sewage overflow — which can pose serious health hazards — trees provide us with healthier neighborhoods and make it more likely that we’ll get outside and enjoy nature. 

 

Caption Sources

Lovasi, G. S., Quinn, J. W, Neckerman, K. M., Perzanowski, M., Rundle, A, (2008). Children living in areas with more street trees have lower prevalence of asthma. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62(7), 647-649.

Nowak, D., Hirabayashi, S., Bodine, A., Greenfield, E. 2007. Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States.

Nowak, D., Hirabayashi, S., Bodine, A., Greenfield, E. 2007. Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States.

Buy a Native Plant from a Tree for All Partner

Pacific Waterleaf is an ideal native to plant in your backyard — easy to care for and bees love it.

Pacific Waterleaf is an ideal native to plant in your backyard — easy to care for and bees love it.

By Linda Dolejs

It was an unassuming sprawling plant that caught my attention a few years ago and has made me an advocate for going native in my yard as much as possible. I thought it was a weed that was springing up in the shade of the rhododendron where I usually plant impatiens. The plant showed up early in the spring and its flowers weren’t very flashy, but what I noticed was that bees loved it. I certainly wasn’t going to weed out a plant after watching bees coming and going to it throughout the day. 

After checking the Gardening with Native Plants poster hanging on my office wall and tentatively putting a name to this unknown plant, I did some further internet research and discovered it was a native plant known as Pacific Waterleaf. Not only do the bees love it but it turned out that it’s edible. Waterleaf has a mild taste and I’ve added young leaves to salads. 

Thus my interest in going native in my yard was born. I was inspired to go beyond the sword ferns and a few trilliums that already grew there. Now there are lupine, western bleeding hearts and Oregon oxalis in the yard, with plans this year to add red flowering currant and milkweed along the fence. Through Tree for All, I also discovered that a natural landscape is resistant to pests and diseases with less need for watering and chemicals. Those qualities are definitely an advantage in my mind. I’ve also noticed more birds and butterflies in the yard now that native plants are more abundant.

Planting native plants aligns well with Tree for All goals and is a way for us all to be a part of a bigger program. Tree for All is not only about large-scale plantings with contractors and drones, but also about planting native trees and shrubs in our own yards.

I would encourage home gardeners to visit a local native plant sale that is happening in April and support one of Tree For All partners and other community organizations hosting sales. I usually head to the Tualatin Hills Nature Center each spring, not only to buy a few plants but to enjoy the park setting and the helpful advice from plant experts at the event. Before you go, check out this Native Plant Finder to find the best plants for your landscape.

After a career in water resources management, Linda Dolejs is semi-retired and enjoying having more time for hands-on experiences in the Tualatin River Watershed—starting in her backyard.

Turtles & trees: Make the connection as a community science volunteer

Improved wildlife habitat is one of the many benefits of healthy tree/shrub cover. Here in Oregon’s Tualatin River Watershed, turtles are among the animals that need what Tree for All has to offer. That’s why Tree for All partners are recruiting volunteers from the community to help gather data about our beloved Oregon turtles. Attend a training to be part of a regional effort to monitor Oregon’s two freshwater turtle species and to help scientists track biodiversity and restoration success at Tree for All project sites.

Western painted turtle (photo: Grace Alfieri)

Western painted turtle (photo: Grace Alfieri)

These two native turtle species are the Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) and the Western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata), which are identified as priority at-risk species in the Oregon Conservation Strategy . The Western Pond Turtle is also “under review” for a federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Volunteers will also be on the lookout for two invasive species of turtles: Red eared sliders (Actinemys marmorata) and Common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentine). Learn more about these species on oregonturtles.com.

Western pond turtle (photo: Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife)

Western pond turtle (photo: Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife)

This training is a great opportunity to learn about native and non-native Oregon turtles, local conservation efforts, and the logistics of surveying and taking data. Participants are trained and assigned to survey pods where they survey for and identify native and non-native species of turtles. Surveys take approximately one hour per site and take place at least once a week between April 1 and July 1 in a variety of locations around the Tualatin River Watershed. It’s a great way to do hands-on work in the watershed, and an interesting complement to tree planting. Attend the training to learn all about Oregon turtles, help spot them in the wild, and then impress friends and family with your newfound turtle knowledge. 

Upcoming trainings:

Thursday, March 16
6-8 pm
City of Tigard Public Works
8777 SW Burnham St, Tigard
Presented by Clean Water Services

 

Saturday, March 25
1-3 pm
Tualatin Hills Nature Center
15655 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton
Presented by THPRD Natural Resources

Click here for more information and to register, or email commsci@cleanwaterservices.org