Thursday, December 18, 2014

Discover Rock Creek Tree Planting

The Clackamas River just upstream from the Rock Creek confluence.
Tree planting is a perfect kind of volunteer activity to do with kids.  It's active, kids can see concretely what they've helped to accomplish, and there is the potential for them to return for years to come to see their trees grow.  SOLVE organizes many tree plantings, and their Discover Rock Creek event in Clackamas was special.  First, we learned about the extensive work that has been done there for salmon habitat restoration.  It has been noted that the land surrounding this watershed is rapidly being developed after decades of agricultural use, and haste is needed to protect the watershed. Studies revealed that at this point where Rock Creek flows into the Clackamas River, the river was relatively uniform in depth and speed, without much shade.  Salmon and their fry like cool, shady streams with a mixture of depths and flow rates.  They like logs, root balls and boulders in their habitat to provide places to rest and hide from predators.  Organizers pointed out to us that the landscape which to our eyes had looked perfectly natural, has actually been altered quite dramatically to make it salmon friendly with the installation of these natural features, all engineered to stay in place for as long as possible.  We heard from high school students who have done studies on the macroinvertebrate population and learned that the health of a stream is clearly indicated by their presence.  Some, which have short lifespans, can manage in more polluted and inhospitable watersheds.  Others that live for years in the streams really require a healthier environment.  Metro Naturalist and tracking expert Ashley Conley was also there, displaying animal pelts.  She showed us some amazing animal signs such as an osprey nest, kingfisher nest holes, and coyote scat that we had missed.  Then we got down to the business of planting 500 trees and shrubs, which will provide shade and erosion control.  Within less than an hour, volunteers had got the job done.  Wow!  
Male Chinook salmon and a female with eggs.
Some fascinating macroinvertebrates.
Logs carefully held together with rebar to create a lasting structure.
Fishing out macroinvertebrates.
Pelts, wings and branches chewed by beavers.
Kingfisher nest holes.
Jasper after planting his first Douglas fir.


exploreportlandnature said...

Love that last photo!

Laura Lucanidae said...

Thank you Michael! But you're still the king of cute kid pictures!