Volunteers help spread mulch in one of the final steps of a process to restore the city park

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Volunteers form a bucket brigade to quickly move mulch from the pile near the entrance to the far end of River Run Park.More than 70 volunteers from the Portland-area group Friends of Trees gathered at Lake Oswego's River Run Park on Saturday for the last in a series of Metro-funded planting parties that have transformed the park from a hotbed of invasive species into a flourishing home for hundreds of native Oregon plants.

"It went from a lush but non-native landscape to nothing, and now to all these native plants," says Lake Oswego Parks Crew Leader Megan Big John.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - Volunteers help spread mulch around some of the native plants near the path in River Run Park.Previous work groups have focused on planting native species after invasives such as blackberries were cleared out. With that work already completed, last week's event focused on spreading mulch around each of the new plants.

The mulch will suppress the growth of weeds and other invasive species, and provide more moisture for the fledgling native species during the hot summer months, according to Big John. It will also make the results of the volunteer project clear to visitors.

"By having the mulch around the plants, it lets people know this is something good that we're protecting," Big John says.

A dump truck arrived early in the morning and delivered 14 yards of mulch in one big pile near the entrance to the park. From there, it was up to the volunteers to shovel the mulch into buckets and haul it to each of the hundreds of plants along the main trail through the park.

Once the nearby plants were mulched, the group turned their attention to the far end of the park and formed a line to pass buckets full of mulch down the path.

REVIEW PHOTO: ANTHONY MACUK - David and other yuoungsters help the adults shovel mulch into buckets so it can be spread around the native plants in River Run Park.The overall project was funded by Metro as part of a three-year grant cycle. Most of the volunteers were from Friends of Trees, but there were also volunteers from Lake Oswego and from other environmental groups such as the Tigard Environmental Club. The plants were donated by Clean Water Services.

The grant period is almost over, but Big John says the bulk of the work is now done — although the park will still require occasional maintenance to make sure the new plants are growing right and to keep invasives from sneaking back in.

According to Big John, volunteers had contributed roughly 450 hours of work to the project at the start of Saturday. By the time the party was finished, Big John says she expected that total to have risen to 600 hours over the course of the three-year grant cycle.

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Anthony Macuk at 503-636-1281 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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