Native American Internship Program is Wise to Johnson Creek

JCWC’s second season working with the Wisdom Workforce crew, a Native American internship program, on watershed restoration projects around Johnson Creek.

We have just wrapped up our second season working with a Wisdom of the Elders workforce internship crew. Their Wisdom Workforce Development Internship Crew program provides environmental conservation and restoration training and career pathways for Native American adults. This season, JCWC was lucky enough to share eleven great days of field work in the watershed with the Wisdom Workforce crew.

The very first day this season we worked right alongside a generous cookie-baking creekside landowner and his son in law, who got on the ground and in the green with us. We all worked together that day to remove invasive species growing close to the creek, keeping our eyes peeled not to pull the native Trailing blackberry growing amongst the invasive blackberry! JCWC and the Wisdom Workforce crew also worked at the Springwater Canyon site, cutting – and sometimes sawing – English Ivy and clematis from the trees. More blackberry removal took place over three days at a Pleasant Valley creekside landowners property, and at the Lao Buddhist Center Northwest. There, the Wisdom Workforce crew was able to share a list of native plants that the crew recently planted at Zenger Farm, which JCWC and LBCN used to begin developing plans there.

The Wisdom Workforce crew also joined JCWC for three days at the Springwater Trail at Ochoco street. The berms on either side of the trail were overgrown with tall invasive grasses a few months ago, choking the natives planted there. The grasses were cut, and mulch was delivered by PP&R. Over three separate days, the Wisdom Crew and JCWC spread about 60 cubic yards of mulch over the berms – that was over a dozen pick-up truck beds piled high! This site will be planted with a beautiful array of natives in the springtime. It’s right across from the Goodwill bins, on Ochoco street. Come ride or walk by and check it out!

The Wisdom Workforce crew got to do more than just remove invasive species, though! We spent a day at a site in Damascus cutting willow stakes. As we got to work, a natural assembly line developed. About half of us were cutting willow branches from trees and then moving those to a clearing. There, the branches were cut into stakes about two feet long, made with flat cuts on the top (for the mallet-pounding planting process) and angled cuts on the bottom (to pierce the soil and help the plant grow better). Finally, the stakes were bundled up into groups and put into buckets with water. The next day, the Wisdom Workforce crew met up with JCWC at Freeway Lands, an industrial site near I-205 in Portland, and installed the willow stakes right alongside main stem Johnson Creek. A few years ago, the site hosted a huge mass of invasive Armenian blackberry. After several seasons of JCWC’s riparian restoration work funded by the property owners, native plant and animal species are thriving. The willow stakes planted there will grow roots that will keep the bank soil from eroding and will provide shade to help keep the creek cool.

The Wisdom Workforce crew was a group of total powerhouses, working hard every day to help us accomplish the restoration work that is so important to improving the health of and habitat in Johnson Creek. Thank you to Alvey, Priscilla, Lee, Lenae, Treston, Brandee, Rebecca, and Tameron.

You can learn more about and see the Wisdom Workforce crew in action in the video above! Or follow this link:

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