Through a series of good luck and chance encounters, the Friends of Nadaka Park will watch on Saturday, June 15, as U.S. Army reservists move an enormous mound of giant boulders at Nadaka Nature Park in Gresham.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., reservists will use heavy equipment that’s typically used while responding to disasters to move between 150 and 200 boulders at the 12-acre park, located at Northeast 174th Avenue and Glisan Street, said Lee Dayfield, with Friends of Nadaka.

The boulders, dug up during construction of the Gresham Police Department’s new public safety building in aptly named Rockwood, will become part of the garden on 2 acres of the park situated next to St. Aiden’s Episcopal Church on Glisan. Larger boulders are to be placed along the park’s south frontage facing Glisan to act as a natural barrier, keeping cars out and nature in.

Dayfield said the effort to bring the boulders to Nadaka began more than a year ago when she got a call from Todd Jones, Gresham’s parks maintenance superintendent.

The city had excavated a lot of large boulders at the site of the future public safety building in the 600 block of Northeast 181st Avenue north of Glisan Street.

“I thought, ‘Gosh, those would be really great for Nadaka because we’re going to be putting in this nature-based play area,” Dayfield recalled.

Then last summer, she ran into Gresham Police Chief Craig Junginger.

“I hear you have some big rocks over there at the site for the public safety building,” she told him. When she asked if Nadaka Nature Park could have them, he — not surprisingly — said sure.

Jones moved them over to Nadaka a short time later.

That mountain of boulders caught the eye of Paul Bickmore, new store director for the neighborhood Albertsons, while Dayfield gave him a tour of Nadaka. She explained the plan for a rain garden, orchard, berry patch, 60-plot community garden, meadow, paths, restroom and a nature-based play area.

Dayfield also outlined the long-range plan to improve habitat and remove invasive species and diseased trees while providing nature-based education on wildlife, gardening and stormwater management — all while including the community in actively caring for the park.

Bickmore had just one question.

“What are you going to do with the boulders?” he asked Dayfield, his tour guide.

She explained the future nature-based play area and the need for a natural barrier along Glisan to replace the fence that’s there now.

“If you ever need those boulders moved, just let me know,” he told her.

Bickmore said he is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, which has a lot of heavy equipment at its disposal that is seldom used. Moving the boulders would give the reservists a chance to practice on the machines as well as an opportunity to serve the community.

Saturday is moving day.

While Bickmore and his fellow reservists move the giant rocks, volunteers with friends of Nadaka will pull weeds from community gardens mulched in December and remove invasive species from the forest.

Dayfield said she’s thankful the city donated the rocks and Bickmore planted the seed to secure the labor to move them.

“That would cost us thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to move those around,” Dayfield said. “They’re big.”

The community is welcome to watch the big move. It’s the kind of spectacle sure to bring out the kid in all of us, she said.

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