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A letter from Caroline Skinner, member of Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park, about the many park improvements that took place over the year 2016.

(Image is Clickable Link) FRIENDS OF NOB HILL NATURE PARK FACEBOOK PAGE - Camas in bloom at Nob Hill Nature Park

A review of 2016 at Nob Hill Nature Park

It's been another good year at Nob Hill Nature Park in St Helens.

As park stewards, Howard Blumenthal and I wish to thank all who've come to help at two work parties in 2016, as well as those who have come to visit. We started the year with another wonderful display of native wildflowers last spring, starting with native trillium, fawn lilies and checker lilies in March, to be followed by camas, prairie star, larkspur and a few harvest lilies blooming into May and June. 

The park is a 6.6-acre, oak-woodland and natural area in St Helens, overlooking the Columbia River.

The Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park is a small, all-volunteer group of park stewards. New volunteers are always welcome. You can see photos of some of the wildflowers on our Facebook page for Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park.

The native plants found amidst the oak woodland and basalt bluffs are what makes this place so special. We appreciate the help of all who come to help us battle invasive plants so the native ones can grow and thrive. 

At the spring work party this year, for the first time, we also had access to the area below the park through the city's new property at the old Boise de-barking plant site. We hand-pulled lunaria or annual honesty. It is also known as "money plant" for the papery "coins" that are seedpods formed after the bright purple flowers are done. The plant is a garden escapee. It is happy to take root in the deep, rich soils of Nob Hill, so it's a non-native weedy pest we've battled for years.  We pulled and bagged up plenty of lunaria in the spring, and we'll be working on it again at our next work party on the first Saturday in April 2017. 

Working at the lower edges of the park is a great way to get a different view of things, not to mention to take in the amazing river views from the city's new property.

As park stewards, Howard and I are also so thankful for the help at Nob Hill in St Helens last fall. In spite of nonstop cold rain, we had one of our best turnouts ever in November! We had help from Boy Scout Troop 294 of Scappoose, Cub Scout Pack 294 of Scappoose and Cub Scout Pack 250 of St. Helens. Scouts don't let a little rain (or a lot of rain) stop them from getting outdoors. We had a total of 24 people attend. They donated a total of 53 hours weeding, planting and mulching on Nov. 5. Also, we could not have done the 2016 work parties without the plants, tools and gloves provided by our community partner group, Scappoose Bay Watershed Council. We had a lot of dirty work gloves when the day was over in November and that's fine with us.  

We stopped by the fall worksite the next morning to finish fixing up a few plant cages used for deer screening and the hillside looks great. It's good to know that area gets much-needed attention as it recovers from being one big blackberry patch. Hopefully, our native plantings, including mahonia, vine maple, mock orange, thimbleberry and more will out-compete the blackberries — with a little help from summer weed-whacking — and restore the area to a stronger natural state. 

We have been holding our semi-annual work parties on the first Saturday in April and November since 2004. We also offer a native plant walk in springtime, held in conjunction with Native Plant Society of Oregon.

The city filmed a short You Tube video about the park. If you haven't seen it, you can find the Nob Hill Nature Park video by checking the city's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wearesthelens.

We hope to see you in the park!

Caroline Skinner

Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park

St. Helens