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Two nonprofit groups share conservation ethos and have found ways to help each other out over the past decade

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Members of Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park and Scappoose Bay Watershed Council pose for a photo Nov. 4 during a work party at the nature park. The Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park (NHNP) and Scappoose Bay Watershed Council (SBWC) have worked together for more than a decade on natural area conservation. SBWC provides native plants for work parties and plantings at the 6.6-acre park in St. Helens, in addition to its other projects in Columbia County and northern Multnomah County. Plants provided by SBWC's native plant nursery help fill in areas where volunteers have removed non-native plants and weeds. Now the Friends of NHNP are returning the favor by helping to re-supply SBWC's native plant nursery with cuttings from the park.

According to its web site, The SBWC's mission is to promote and support a healthy watershed through projects that protect and restore native fish, wildlife and plants, and to work with the community to educate and encourage participation in enhancing and enjoying their natural surroundings. The SBWC is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-regulatory organization with a diverse group of volunteers. The council serves as a source of information about the watershed for residents, visitors, local groups and partners. Friends of NHNP is a small, all-volunteer group dedicated to stewardship at the park in St Helens.

The NHNP ethic is, "Take only your memories and leave only your footsteps." (That applies to everything except trash, which we remove, of course.) This winter, with our blessing, SBWC will come to the park to take plant cuttings for use to start new plants; some of them may even return to the park later. The cuttings are dipped in rooting hormone then planted and nurtured by SBWC volunteers. This illustrates one way that nature parks can serve as a repository or source for seeds and plant material that ultimately will be used in other restoration areas.

The SBWC native plant nursery obtains seedlings and plant starts from a variety of sources. Project Manager Amber Kester said they have taken plant cutting from some of SBWC's restoration sites for about the last three years, and she'd like to see some new sources. While the one goal is to keep a degree of genetic diversity, another goal is to keep the plant sourcing local. Obtaining plant material from NHNP meets both those goals by collecting from a new source, yet one that is in the same county and zip code.

Friends of NHNP are grateful to the Watershed Council for the plants it has provided over the years. In spring of 2018, Friends of NHNP plan to continue removing invasive lunaria and blackberry from along the lower edge of the oak woodland. It will also provide a good opportunity to fill in the newly cleared area with native plants, including mahonia, snowberry, sword fern, fringecup, ocean spray and choke cherry, all of which are already commonly found there. The goal is to stabilize the slope and to fill the area before blackberry and lunaria return in large numbers. Spring is also a good time to observe an abundance of native wildflowers, including fawn lilies, checker lilies, prairie star, western buttercup and camas.

Volunteers make the difference for both groups. SBWC always welcomes new volunteers on Thursday mornings of most weeks. It is recommended to sign up for the volunteer email list with Amber Kester before attending.

Friends of NHNP hold volunteer work parties twice yearly, on the first Saturday in April and again in November. Volunteering is a good way to see the park, meet new friends, and have fun. SBWC is always looking for individual volunteers or groups to get involved, including helping with planting and clean-up days, working in the native plant nursery and helping with special projects.

For more information about volunteering for SBWC or NHNP, contact Pat or Amber at 503-397-7904.

One of the biggest joys of nurturing native plants is the ability to come back, years later, to see the plants growing well, and to know that volunteers have made a difference in the natural environment by supporting its ecological integrity. For more information, go to the SBWC website or follow the Friends of NHNP on Facebook.

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