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More than 80 students and community members joined to clear open spaces of invasive species

PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - Student volunteers are led to where they will spend the morning clearing invasive species. Class wasn't in session for high schoolers in Lake Oswego Friday, Jan. 24, but many Lake Oswego High School students showed up to campus anyway.

Students decided to spend their day off helping pull ivy and other invasive plants from the school's natural space by the tennis courts.

The event was hosted by the LOHS National Honor Society. More than 80 students showed up wearing thick gardening gloves and ready to tackle some thorny overgrowth.

Ivy might look aesthetically pleasing but it can be harmful to the healthy growth of trees. Dense ivy can climb up trees for years and eventually cause them to topple due to the weight. Ivy also steals nutrients from a tree's base, weakening and eventually killing the tree. PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - Blackberry bushes and ivy cause harm to open space on LOHS  grounds.

"Our goal is basically to remove it all around the base, you know, save the trees," Nate Foster, vice president of National Honor Society and a member of the Green Team, said.

Foster said since learning of how harmful ivy can be to trees, he sees it everywhere.

"It's kind of alarmed me so I've taken that to heart," Foster said. PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - An LOHS student participates in the ivy pull.

The club plans to come back in the spring to plant native species where the ivy and blackberry bushes once were.

The school's Green Team, a club focused on sustainability, and Oswego Lake Watershed Council teamed up with NHS, making it a community event. The Green Team volunteered time and the Watershed Council provided equipment and instruction on how to safely and effectively remove the invasive plants.

Lakeridge High School's Green Team also joined in on the effort.

"Kind of the reason we're doing this is because we want to get more involvement with the community with our organization. In the past it's just kind of been a thing that students put on their resume and kind of just moved on," Ganesh Palaniappan, president of NHS said.

This year they want to change that. PMG PHOTO: ASIA ALVAREZ ZELLER - Mike Buck instructs student volunteers on how to use equipment.

"This is inspiring, actually, especially because they could be doing other things but they see a need on their campus and (are) saying yes to what needs to get done here," Mike Buck, member of the Watershed Council said.

Buck has been with the Watershed Council for about 10 years and said this is just one of many projects in which people are trying to bring open spaces back to functional status for the inhabitants.

"It's a great opportunity for everyone to get together and volunteer together," Palaniappan added.

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