By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
A project that will benefit the environment plus the watershed and habitat – as well as the community – drew plenty of neighborhood interest and effort in February.
About 60 neighbors and nearby residents came out for three hours to turn the two blocks of the Ainsworth Street median – between 22nd and 24th avenues – into an attractive, self-sustaining habitat corridor.
The Columbia Slough Watershed Council organized the Stewardship Saturday in this pilot project. Eventually, it will connect Alberta Park’s nature trail that’s due for expansion and one planned for Fernhill Park. (See 2017 CNews report on Alberta Park.)
“We bit off a chunk we knew we could finish,” reported Max Samuelson, interim stewardship director. The dynamics worked well, so the next event will move east to the next two blocks. That’s planned for early next year after the first effort is assessed to determine if plantings thrived and/or if tweaks to the plan are needed.
The 15-block, 25-foot-wide median receives tending only at the mercy of neighbors, and its grass and weeds aren’t always attractive. They also don’t stop storm runoff that picks up pollutants to flood and send sewer overflows into basements and streets and/or flow into the Columbia watershed.
Native shrubs, trees, grasses and rushes comprised the 1,700 plants chosen for their low maintenance and deep rooting abilities – as well as their habitat for birds, wildlife and pollinators.
The project is a partnership between the watershed council, Portland bureaus of environmental services and transportation, Audubon Society of Portland and Wisdom of the Elders.
Enthusiasm for the project wasn’t limited to the volunteers Feb. 8. “People were sticking their hands out of the cars, honking their horns and cheering us on as we were planting,” Max reported.
He hopes community interest continues for future plantings, and especially this summer for the first two blocks.
“We’re looking to the same and more neighborhood heroes,” he said. “Although the native plants we installed are intended to sustain themselves, they’ll need watering, weeding and probably mulching to get them through their first year.
For details, contact Rachel.Walsh@ColumbiaSlough.org.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters