Volunteers needed for June 4 watershed work party on border between Portland and Milwaukie

Volunteers interested in habitat enhancement are needed for a work party at Tideman Johnson Park, and the ducks, geese, rabbits, deer, owls and downy woodpeckers that live along the watershed between Milwaukie and Portland will be grateful.COURTESY PHOTO: LAUREN LABARRE - Volunteers gather on the boardwalk at Tideman Johnson Park during the Watershed Wide event in 2020.

In addition, "we know that fish like salmon, steelhead and lamprey travel through Johnson Creek because they are seen upstream, and we also can detect their presence with environmental DNA," said Marianne Colgrove, co-founder of the Friends of Tideman Johnson Park.COURTESY PHOTO: LAUREN LABARRE - Volunteers learn the best way to plant native species during the Watershed Wide event in 2020.

Although it is too late in the year to plant native species, there is still plenty of work to be done at the park, Colgrove noted.

The main task on June 4 will be to remove non-native plants like English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, invasive clematis and shiny geranium. Volunteers will also be mulching natives that were planted earlier this year, she said.

Colgrove noted that "native plants are a better source of food and habitat than non-native plants, so they sustain more pollinators like insects and butterflies which, in turn, support other wildlife."

Also, established plants help keep the creek shaded, which is crucial for the health of salmon and other creek inhabitants.

Habitat enhancement at Tideman Johnson Park helps more than wildlife, Colgrove said, noting that people enjoy walking through the restored natural area along a paved trail and boardwalk.


Colgrove and co-founder Lisa Gunion-Rinker started the Friends of Tideman Johnson Park as a project of the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association, beginning when the organization received a Community Watershed Stewardship Grant through the city of Portland in 2007.

The organization is still "loosely connected with AJC, but our primary partners are the Johnson Creek Watershed Council and Portland Parks and Recreation City Nature East," Colgrove said.

She noted that in 2006 the city of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services completed a major habitat restoration project, which restored more natural conditions in the creek by introducing large wood and rock.COURTESY PHOTO: MCKENNA ERICKSON  - Volunteers from a previous habitat restoration event at Tideman Johnson Park get ready to head out and plant some native species.

"But it also left much of the area around the creek compacted and exposed. Other parts of the park had not been maintained while the construction was being planned and were completely overrun with ivy and blackberry," Colgrove said.

The Friends of Tideman Johnson Park removed swaths of blackberry and ivy, and reestablished native plantings.

"In many areas, native trees like Oregon ash, cottonwood, big leaf maple and alder have volunteered on their own and will someday be large trees," Colgrove said.

Johnson Creek Watershed Council

Groups like Friends of Tideman Johnson are crucial to the work of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, said Courtney Beckel, JCWC volunteer program manager.

"The heart of our work is with other community groups, and the biggest role we play is as a central clearing house for all of the good work that community groups are doing," she said.

"We have a great organizational platform and a great reputation that people know they can trust, so when they are ready to volunteer, they can check out our website and we have lots of opportunities for them to choose from," she said.


Volunteer involvement is important because it gets the work done that otherwise might not be funded, Beckel said.

"There are a very small number of parks staff that can do that type of work, and they rely on volunteers to get it done."

Beckel further noted that environmental volunteer work "gives people a meaningful way to participate in hands-on change and build community at the same time."

Finally, she said, the watershed council can track volunteer hours and "leverage the community buy-in to secure more grants that keep our small, grassroots organizations running."

Beckel added, "People just love their special places and are very loyal to them; we see volunteers returning to the same spot to keep improving it for years and years."

For the Birds!

What: Tideman Johnson Park Habitat Enhancement

When: 9 a.m-noon on June 4

Where: Park near the intersection of Southeast 37th Avenue and Tenino Street (do not block driveways or mailboxes). Take the trailhead at the end of Southeast 37th Avenue and go down a steep hill to the junction with the Johnson Creek boardwalk. There are benches next to the Springwater Trail at the base of the Southeast 37th Avenue entrance, along with a parking lot, picnic tables and restrooms at the Southeast 45th Avenue trailhead.

Pre-register: RSVP is required at

Details: Dress for the weather and bring a water bottle. Tools, gloves and instructions are provided.

More information:

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