By Tamara Anne Fowler | CNA Media Team
The small crew of two year olds and five year olds embarked on their journey around Whitaker Ponds. Part of Ladybug Nature Walks, they set out to discover what moss feels like, what a beaver chew is, how to touch thistle so it won’t poke you.
Rain or no rain. Wind or no wind. They strapped on their tiny, borrowed ladybug backpacks, and off they went.
Each backpack contained the tools needed for this all-important mission: plastic magnifying glass, thick paintbrush, plastic cup and beaded multi-colored bracelet to be used as a color wheel.
These four ecologists and their parents and grandparents left the Whitaker Ponds gazebo at 10 a.m. on a Thursday. Their red ladybug backpacks bobbing in the wind, they were not to be distracted.
Whitaker Ponds Nature Park was originally the site of a landfill. After Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) acquired it in 1998, hundreds of tires and toaster ovens were removed.
PP&R collaborates with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and works with the schools and with Verde, a local nonprofit, to conduct year-round restoration and education events at the natural area.
Whitaker Ponds Nature Park is undergoing significant restoration. To monitor local wildlife, turtle trapping takes place every May and September. The turtles are tagged to provide generational data. PP&R is making note of any turtle injuries as well as tracking growth rates across time.
The southern trail is newly regraveled. PP&R repaves every couple of years. “There is an old baseball field here,” noted Laura Guderyahn, PP&R natural resource ecologist. “We want to clear away the field and fencing, and convert the land to a native forest area.
“We will likely have a community process to see what the neighborhood would like to see replace it. I would like to see a few big trees with a native garden demo area for folks to get ideas to take back to their own yards,” she added. “I’d also like to turn part of it into healthy nesting area for the turtles.”
Then there’s the invasive Yellow Flag Iris to be removed and replaced with native rushes, sedges, grasses and cattails to help pull pollutants from water. This will have benefits to native wild life – for native geese, ducks, beavers, frogs and turtles.
“We will be engaged in restoration until the end of time,” Laura said with a smile. Those ladybug walkers and community volunteers have no objections.
Editor’s note: For a list of ladybug walks throughout Portland and/or to volunteer at Whitaker Ponds, contact Yoko.Silk@ PortlandOregon.gov.
Tamara is Edit Kitten, a writer with 20-plus years of experience offering a softer, gentler approach to editing and coaching. Her personal editors – Armani, Max Factor and Spicey’D – are also her cats. Visit her at EditKitten.com or contact her here.