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The months-long project includes a number of revitalizations to CPRD properties

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Students have erected interpretive signs along CPRD trails throughout the area.

Through a student-led conservation initiative known as the Chehalem Valley Watershed Project (CVWP), a group from Newberg High School and area middle schools have constructed new additions to parks and trails throughout the Chehalem Park and Recreation District.

Interpretive signs for visitors – along with bird, bat and butterfly houses – were built on the trails surrounding Chehalem Glenn Golf Course. Myriad other conservation efforts took place at parks throughout the district as well. The other work included removing invasive species, planting native ones undergoing stream restoration and undertaking research projects.

The entire effort is part of an ambitious plan by recent NHS grad Quentin Comus and his classmates, who are guided by their biology teacher Peter Siderius, who also happens to be a member of the CPRD board.

"Obviously conservation isn't one of their main objectives at Park & Rec, but they certainly value it," Comus said. "They've done projects with (Siderius) before, but now with all these partnerships we've done a lot more work on that front. This will be an ongoing effort next year as well, and in the years ahead they'll look at other parks, too."

The entire project cost approximately $30,000 and was funded by grants, in-kind donations and additional support from the Newberg Noon Rotary Club. The partnership with the high school's Interact Club – a mock version of Rotary – jump-started this project, and collaboration with CPRD allowed it to move forward and for CVWP to establish itself as the leading conservation effort in the community.

Mountain View Middle School students assisted in much of the project, which was led by high school students and Siderius. Comus said the work done by MVMS students was comparable to collegiate senior capstone projects and he was impressed by the students' work ethic.

The signage is one of the primary highlights of CVWP's work as it informs people walking the trails about the birds they might see living in and out of the birdhouses the students erected.

"The signage kind of encompasses what the general public might be interested in about the birds or other wildlife in the area," Comus said. "We put those out recently and we coordinated a work party at the golf course where we had some Mountain View seventh-graders come out and do some work. They did a tremendous job and I'm confident that CVWP will be in good hands in the future."

Comus is off to Oregon State University this fall, where he hopes to study to become a biology teacher and pay forward what he's learned from Siderius. The club continues to grow along with the agricultural department at NHS, and Comus said Siderius will teach two separate CVWP classes this year, along with four additional agriculture courses.

The conservation effort is an integral part of the school's renewed focus on Career and Technical Education (CTE), this time in the realm of conservation and biology.

"We're hoping with some marketing and getting students interested in different aspects of CVWP, that we will increase the number of students joining," Comus said. "Our relationship with CPRD is super strong and they're committed to giving a contribution every year in exchange for service projects."


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