Thousands of plants are revegetating Oaks Bottom
Between July and November of 2018, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) completed the construction work on the "Oaks Bottom Habitat Enhancement Project", as previously reported in THE BEE. After that, the Springwater Trail through the area reopened; but that didn't end the project..
In fact, the work in the wildlife refuge is far from over, according to BES Environmental Program Coordinator Ronda Fast, who took THE BEE for a look at the replanting project underway on January 31. "Just before winter weather really moves in, we are starting to plant thousands of trees and shrubs, part of the final elements of the project," Fast remarked as we looked over the newly-created tidal area.
By planting them now, the native seedlings, cuttings, and vegetation will compete well against invasive species in the area, Fast observed. "Because it's cold, and the site has no irrigation; we have to be careful about the timing and the size of the plantings. Small plantings, such as we've been doing, do really well at this time of year.
"These plants can focus their energy on growing roots and establishing themselves," she pointed out. "Then, with the warmth of the spring, they will begin sprouting; their survival is expected to be pretty good."
Away from the planting crew, two well-fed fawns leisurely grazed on a buffet of newly-planted bushes. "We 'over-plant', knowing that some plants will not survive, and others will be grazed by the wildlife – including the family of deer, here – so, we do plant expecting some foraging."
PP&R specified the flora to be installed, she said. "Two of them, Salix (willow) and Cornus sericea (red-osier dogwood), we harvested as cuttings from the refuge itself before the project. Now, we're re-propagating those in the refuge, where we know they've already thrived."
Coming up in late spring or summer, contractors plan on installing a viewing platform along the Springwater Trail to overlook the natural wildlife preserve.