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The Ides of March may have been bad luck for Julius Caesar, but Saturday, March 15, was a lucky day for the areas around Rock Creek in Happy Valley and Damascus. More than 100 people, many of them teens, came together at Pendarvis Farm to give the banks of the creek some tender loving care.

As volunteers filed into the main performance space at the farm, which hosts the annual Pickathon concert, they were serenaded by four teens in the Rose Trail Band. Soon the volunteers and Friends of Trees crew leaders boarded buses bound for multiple three sites in the Happy Valley/Damascus area to plant hundreds of native shrubs and trees on privately owned land along the banks of Rock Creek.

“This provides a vegetative buffer, which helps filter out pollutants and provides shade over the stream, because salmon need cold, clean water,” said Gail Shaloum, an environmental policy specialist with Clackamas County Water Environment Services. Many of the volunteers also get their water from the Clackamas River, which is fed by Rock Creek, she said.

Her agency co-sponsored the event with Friends of Trees, SOLVE and the Rock Creek Partnership.

One group of about 50 fanned out over five different sites at a privately owned farm just off of Tillstrom Road in Damascus.

Cassy Miller, who works at the Happy Valley New Seasons, said she was glad to see so many young people at the event.

“If we can raise youth awareness about the importance of native habitat and trees, then we are going a long way to preserving the planet,” she said.

Javi Euan, 17, and Nick Castillo, 16, Sam Barlow High School students, said they both like the outdoors and wanted to do environmental work to put on their future college applications.

“I wanted to get a sense of a work ethic, even though there is no money,” Castillo added, as he and Euan planted native ocean spray shrubs in groups of five.

There was a large group of teens from the Ukrainian Bible Church in Fairview. Alissa Yazko, 14, and Ira Buzhduga, 14, spent the morning clearing brush, digging holes and planting native thimbleberries in several areas around the creek. Both girls said they were at the event to help the environment and serve the community.

At 19, Yuliya Nikiforets, was one of the leaders of the teen group, and said it is important to get the younger ones used to doing environmental work. “They have more free time now, and it will become natural for them to do this when they grow up,” she said.

“Many young people don’t volunteer, they just watch TV or play on the computer. But I love volunteering,” said Alina Kulyak, 16, another member of the Ukrainian contingent.

Volunteering is “our way of giving back to the community and serving God,to help preserve God’s creation," said Evelina Bosovik, 18, another volunteer from the church.

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