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North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District is offering three work parties in January and February

Although winter may seem to be the right time to cuddle up by the fire with a good book, it is actually the best time of the year for planting native species and helping the environment.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Matt Jordan, North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District natural area program coordinator, gathers volunteers together for a trash pick-up at the Three-Creeks Natural Area last October. That is why North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District is offering three work parties in January and February. Volunteers are needed on Jan. 20 at Alma Myra Park, on Feb. 10 at Three-Creeks Natural Area and on Feb. 24 at Spring Park.

Native plants

"Winter is the best time for planting native plants. Most plants in our region are dormant during the winter. This means that digging them up, moving them to a new location and replanting them isn't as traumatic as it is while they are actively growing," said Matt Jordan, NCPRD's natural area program coordinator.

"Also, when the plants 'wake up' again in the spring there is plenty of water available," he added.

At Alma Myra Park, volunteers will be asked to plant native upland plants; they will plant riparian plants at Three-Creeks Natural Area; and plant native plants and enhance fish habitat at Spring Park.

The Spring Park Natural Area fish-habitat enhancement project is a new addition to the restoration project NCPRD implemented in 2015, Jordan said.

"We are partnering with the North Clackamas Urban Watersheds Council, who is collecting Christmas trees, and we will be adding them to the constructed log jams in the alcove at the volunteer event on Feb. 24," he noted.

"Human activities have reduced the amount of woody debris in riparian areas that would naturally fall into the river. Turns out this woody material provides important hiding places for small fish, including our ESA-listed salmon species," Jordan said.

"Adding Christmas trees to the alcove will provide relatively safe resting places for young salmon to increase their body weight as they migrate out to the ocean and increase their chances of survival," he added.

Ecologically significant habitat

All three work party sites have ecologically significant remnant habitat types.

"Upland forests, wetlands and riparian habitats are all important for native plants, insects and wildlife," Jordan said.

"Many of these remnant habitat patches in our region have been converted to neighborhoods, farmland, or industrial use and no longer serve the ecological functions necessary for a healthy ecosystem," he said.

Most of these same areas have been impacted by other activities before they were conserved, and it takes time and effort to restore those sites affected by development or invasive species.

That is why NCPRD enlists the help of the community to assist in caring for these places, Jordan said.

"NCPRD staff have had the wonderful opportunity to work with many dedicated volunteers and groups over the years. We rely on their help to accomplish many of our restoration goals," he said.

Jordan added, "Volunteering is also a great way to get to know a park or natural area while getting exercise and fresh air alongside like-minded neighbors."

If you go

What: Volunteers are needed for North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District's three native-planting events in January and February.

Where and when: 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 20 at Alma Myra Park, 7510 S.E. Thiessen Road; 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 10 at Three-Creeks Natural Area, meet at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park,7300 S.E. Harmony Road, Milwaukie; 9 a.m. to noon on Feb. 24 at Spring Park, 2001 S.E. Sparrow St., Milwaukie.

Details: All tools, gloves

and refreshments will be provided.

For more information:

visit ncprd.com or call Matt Jordan at 971-313-2031.

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