Hundreds of pounds of trash collected; volunteers work to remove invasive species

The numbers say it all — 40 volunteers took 760 pounds of trash out of five natural areas last Saturday, Sept. 14. They also removed countless invasive plants and mulched, said Neil Schulman, executive director of the North Clackamas Watershed Council, which co-sponsored the event with the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District.

PMG PHOTO: ELLEN SPITALERI - Patty Lyons and Phil Lemons remove clematis vines and other invasives near the pond at Minthorn Springs Wetland near Milwaukie Marketplace on Sept. 14.Volunteers gathered at North Clackamas Park; some stayed there, while others fanned out to Mt. Talbert Nature Park, Stringfield Family Park, Minthorn Springs Wetland and 3-Creeks Natural Area.

"It was a great event and folks had a great time," Schulman said, adding that Metro donated free disposal at the transfer station in Oregon City.

North Clackamas Park

PMG PHOTOS: ELLEN SPITALERI - Sally and Dick Shook deploy the tree puller as they remove small trees which spring up and shade out the native camas plants in North Clackamas Park.At North Clackamas Park, four volunteers used bright orange tree pullers to remove upstart invasives from the camas meadow between the dog park and the Milwaukie Center.

Even though the trees are small, they provide enough of a canopy to inhibit the growth of the native camas plants, said Tonia Williamson, NCPRD natural resources coordinator.

"Pulling up invasive trees will enhance the herbaceous understory in the camas meadow," she added.

Williamson also told volunteers that in ancient times, fire used to come through and remove the invasives, so "now we are mimicking the fire."

Minthorn Springs wetland

Minthorn Springs, located behind Milwaukie Marketplace on Southeast 37th Avenue, is a natural wetland that processes the stormwater runoff from the mall and nearby industry, noted Lisa Batey, a Milwaukie city councilor.

But invasives, like ivy, blackberry and clematis, have attacked and obscured the area, so volunteers were working to take those plants out. They also removed a huge pile of trash from the wetland, Batey noted.

"We want to make the trails more visible; we came here on Earth Day and put down bark chips" on the trails, she said.

Patty Lyons, Britt McConn and Phil Lemons were also working on removing invasives closer to the pond at Minthorn Springs.

Lyons, associate director for the Wetlands Conservancy, said the organization would like to partner with NCPRD and the Friends of Minthorn and set up a quarterly cleanup of the Minthorn site.

The Wetlands Conservancy was incorporated as a land trust in 1981 and spans the entire state of Oregon. It has protected more than 1,500 acres of wetlands in 32 preserves stretching from the Portland metropolitan area to the southern Oregon Coast.

McConn noted that the group had freed a hemlock tree, a native species, from an entanglement of clematis vines and other invasives, while Lemons said invasive plants can harm fish and the food chain.

For more information about volunteering with the North Clackamas Urban Watershed Council, visit For more information about North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, visit

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