Conservation Outreach Insight for November

Welcome to our new Conservation Outreach Insight report. This is a monthly report by our Outreach and Education Program staff of important activities and events. We hope you enjoy this report!

Year in review

Staff are sharpening their pencils and sifting through their weekly planners to pick out the highlights of fiscal year 2016-2017. Yes, the annual report season has begun. It is exciting, and somewhat exhausting, to look back at our accomplishments for the year. The most challenging part will be paring the stories down to fit on one page for each program!

Stay tuned for this exciting publication, scheduled to be released at the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual meeting on December 19, 2017.

Our Board of Directors meetings are generally held at the District office at 221 Molalla Ave. Suite 102, Oregon City on the third Tuesday of every month.

The December 19th annual meeting will be called to order at 4:00 p.m. with the regular District board meeting immediately following the annual meeting.

Erosion control field day

A handful of nursery growers and conservation specialists gathered at a local nursery in October to do a little out-of-the-box thinking. The topic was erosion control, a problem that is shared by those in a number of industries including nursery production and general construction.

On this cold and rainy day, representatives from ACF West, a distributor of geo-synthetic solutions for construction applications, demonstrated a number of products that they thought might be applicable to the nursery industry. Many of these products would serve to interrupt the sheet flow of rainwater down a slope.

District staff lend a hand installing an erosion control product for access roads.

Protecting soil from the erosive power of raindrops, slowing water as it flows downhill, and filtering water as it leaves a field are all basic goals of the conservation practices that ACF West demonstrated. Nurseries are always looking for ways to prevent erosion from occurring, especially when growing activities require that soil be exposed. This is the time when conservation practices need to be in place to reduce escape of soil to streams or ditches.

Learning how other industries deal with similar problems is one way to introduce technology adaptable to the nursery industry without having to reinvent the wheel!

Forest Tree Leader

Oregon white oaks in West Linn. Photo by Roberta Schwarz

This week the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District submitted an article for the winter 2018 edition of the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association newsletter, the Forest Tree Leader.

For this upcoming publication we promoted Oregon white oak as a possible alternative to Douglas fir or pine species when the soil type does not support healthy crops of the species traditionally grown in woodlot production.

Oak habitat

Oregon white oak was once commonly found in the Willamette Valley. Today only 10% of the oak habitat that thrived in the 1850s remains. Many of the remaining pockets of oak woodland are found on rocky soil with less than desirable conditions for agricultural production. This is one reason they have survived the last 100 plus years.

In this article we also suggest ways to improve the health and vigor of already established oak woodlands and elaborate on the incredible habitat these trees provide native wildlife. Look for our article to come out in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, check out our article on Oregon white oak.

Oak tunnel

The soil tunnel was a hit with kids attending the 2017 Clackamas County Fair!

Capitalizing on our successful soil tunnel from the 2017 Clackamas County Fair, we have started working on a sequel for the 2018 Clackamas County Fair…the downed oak log!

To help educate community members and promote our Oregon white oak habitat program, we will add pool noodles to the sides of the square soil tunnel to help simulate an oak log. We will feature the biological activity inside, outside, and underneath the log, with plenty of tactile opportunities to make this display another hit with kids of all ages.

Our goal is to make folks aware of the unique habitat that is provided by the Oregon white oak. Over 200 native wildlife and plant species rely on this environment. Download Wildlife on White Oaks Woodlands to see a long list of species that need oaks.

2018 Watershed Council Support Grants

Watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts have complementary missions that include protecting and improving water quality and wildlife habitat. By supporting watershed councils, we leverage our opportunities to realize more conservation and education throughout the county.

We get more done by working closely together, says General Manager Tom Salzer

This is the eighth year we have had a formal application process for our Watershed Council Support Grant program. These grants are unusual in that they may be used for any funding shortfalls that watershed councils may encounter. These shortfalls are normally costs that regular sources of funding do not cover, like coordinator salary or office space.

Last year the District awarded $95,000 in grants to local watershed councils. Applications for the next round of grants are due on November 30, 2017. We intend to have grant checks out to the watershed councils in early January 2018.

Watershed council planting event includes volunteers of all ages.

Welcoming a new council coordinator

Congratulations to both Oswego Lake and Tryon Creek Watershed Councils on hiring a new council coordinator! Patrick Blanchard visited the District office this month to introduce himself, learn about the Watershed Council Support Grant application, and become familiar with the District and what we do.

He also learned how he can join some of the partner groups in the county who work together on outreach including the Clackamas Water Education Team and Urban Watershed Outreach Group.

Native plant trailer ready for winter

Partner Christine Hollenbeck from the Clackamas River Water Provides lends a hand in preparing the native plant trailer for winter.

On a sunny October morning, vegetation on the native plant trailer was cut back and cleaned up to make it ready for spring growth and travel to local farmers markets and other community events in 2018. The native plant trailer is truly a mobile garden that was designed to show how attractive native plants can be in a home landscape.

Native plants are adapted to our climate, thriving in our wet winters and hot dry summer conditions. In this way, they are easier to care for in home landscapes and provide our native wildlife with food and shelter.

Ownership of the garden was originally transferred from Metro to Clackamas Community College with the intent that it be used for public outreach in the region. In 2015, ownership of the trailer was transferred from Clackamas Community College to the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.

Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District and the Clackamas Sustainability Cooperative (see members below) recognize the value of the mobile garden as a tool to address common educational goals and priorities. All parties mutually agree to the use of the mobile garden for the purpose of educating the public about the importance of native landscaping in watershed health.

Members of the Clackamas Sustainability Cooperative include the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, Clackamas Community College, Clackamas County, Clackamas River Basin Council, Clackamas River Water Providers, and the City of Lake Oswego.

Planning for 2018 events

We have several events being planned for 2018, including the three listed below.

Annual summit of the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Committee

The Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Committee is planning for their annual summit to be held on January 24-25 at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District will participate by presenting a session to teachers on soil health.

2018 Celebrate Water Event

The Clackamas Water Education Team (CWET) met to begin planning for the 2018 Celebrate Water Event on March 20, 2018. This educational event takes place at Clackamas Community College where last year 600 fourth and fifth graders from area schools participated. CWET has been organizing this event for the past thirteen years.

CONNECT Conference

The CONNECT Planning Committee has begun work for the 2018 Oregon Conservation Education and Assistance Network (OCEAN) CONNECT conference. This is the 10th anniversary of the statewide training for soil and water conservation districts, watershed councils, and land trusts.

The conference will be held at the Seaside Convention Center in Seaside, Oregon on April 17-19, 2018.

New on the Clackamas SWCD website

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