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The Ides of March may have been bad luck for Julius Caesar, but Saturday, March 15, was a lucky day for the areas around Rock Creek in Happy Valley and Damascus. On that day, more than 100 people, many of them teens, came together at Pendarvis Farm to give the banks of the creek some tender loving care.

by: PHOTOS BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Sam Barlow High School students Javi Euan, left, and Nick Castillo clear a space to plant ocean spray seedlings at a farm in Damascus.As volunteers filed into the main performance space at the farm, they were serenaded by four teens, known as the Rose Trail Band. And then Kris Day, green space initiative senior specialist by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - From left, Evelina Bosovik, Yuliya Nikiforets and  Alina Kulyak get ready to plant native seedlings.for Friends of Trees, spoke to the group, stressing that the event was a partnership among FOT, SOLVE, the Rock Creek Partnership and Clackamas County Water Environment Services.

She thanked Scott and Sherry Pendarvis, the owners of the Happy Valley farm, for hosting the event for the last three years, and then introduced Gail Shaloum, an environmental policy specialist with WES, who commended the volunteers for helping plant trees and shrubs on privately owned land along Rock Creek.

“This provides a vegetative buffer, which helps filter out pollutants and provides shade over the stream, because salmon need cold, clean water,” Shaloum said.

She added that people also need cold, clean water and pointed out that many of the attendees might also get their drinking water from Rock Creek, as it flows into the Clackamas River.

Work parties

At that point, volunteers and FOT crew leaders boarded buses to head out to three different sites in the Happy Valley/Damascus area to plant hundreds of native shrubs and trees along the banks of Rock Creek.

One group of about 50 fanned out over five different sites at a privately owned farm just off of Tillstrom Road in Damascus.

Cassy Miller, who works at the Happy Valley New Seasons, said she came to the event because she has some concerns about the environment. She also noted that she was glad to see so many young people at the event.

“If we can raise youth awareness about the importance of native habitat and trees, then we are going a long way to preserving the planet,” she added.

Two young men, Javi Euan, 17, and Nick Castillo, 16, students at Sam Barlow High School, said they both like the outdoors and wanted to do environmental work to put on their future college applications.

“I wanted to get a sense of a work ethic, even though there is no money,” Castillo added, as he and Euan planted native ocean spray shrubs in groups of five.

Five young women at the event were part of a much larger group of teens from the Ukrainian Bible Church in Fairview.

Alissa Yazko, 14, and a student at Clackamas High School, and Ira Buzhduga, 14, spent the morning clearing brush, digging holes and planting native thimbleberries in several areas around the creek. Both girls said they were at the event to help the environment and serve the community.

At 19, Yuliya Nikiforets, was one of the leaders of the teen group, and said it is important to get the younger ones used to doing environmental work.

“They have more free time now, and it will become natural for them to do this when they grow up,” she added.

“Many young people don’t volunteer, they just watch TV or play on the computer, but I love volunteering,” said Alina Kulyak, 16, another member of the UBC contingent.

And Evelina Bosovik, 18, added that volunteering is “our way of giving back to the community and serving God; to help preserve God’s creation.”

Surveying the crews of 10 working all over the farm property, Laura Taylor, one of the FOT crew leaders, said it was encouraging to see so many volunteers and so many young people.

She added, “It is exciting to be getting young people involved; it is pointing us in the right direction.”

For more information, visit: friendsoftrees.org, rockcreekpartnership.org, solveoregon.org and WES at clackamas.us/wes. Find out more about Pendarvis Farm at pickathon.com, and click on Pendarvis Farm in the right-hand menu.

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