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Residents from East Multnomah County and Sandy volunteer their time to clean up their communities on a belated Earth Day.

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Oregon Trail Academy students were among those helping clean up Sandy on April 23. Though Mother's Day isn't for a few more weeks, several people from Sandy and East County took the chance to celebrate Mother Earth on Saturday, April 23, for a belated Earth Day.

In Sandy, dozens turned out to the SOLVE it cleanup, taking to the streets and trails to pick up trash.

Teams, including one of Oregon Trail Academy students, divided and conquered to clean up public spaces, including the skate park and Tickle Creek Trail, among others.

Sandy City Councilor Kathleen Walker was among those who came out to volunteer.

"I love it because in one morning we can make such a difference," Walker said. "I love going to Tickle Creek Trail, and our parks need this help."

Mulch love for Earth Day

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Volunteers spread mulch along Johnson Creek in Greshams Main City Park for Earth Day. In Gresham Earth Day is about more than just protecting the environment, it is about bringing together passionate volunteers in a fun day of giving back.

Friday morning, April 22, about 20 people came together to mulch around Main City Park, 219 S. Main Ave., along the bank of Johnson Creek, providing new natives that had been planted in the past year some important protection and support.

"The value an event like this provides to the watershed is second to the community service and getting people from the city out into nature," said Mike Wallace, Gresham's ecologist. "Those are the connections we want to make, because it creates a sense of ownership and protection for these plants and this park."

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - The city of Sandy hosted its annual SOLVE cleanup day Saturday. The mulching was done around red flowering currants, willows, and ninebark — a particularly important plant near Tsuru Island in Main City Park because it is a plant the local beaver does not enjoy munching on. The mulch creates a barrier around the new shoots, which will eventually grow to create a more aesthetically pleasing embankment, support local wildlife, and ensure blackberry snarls don't regain a foothold.

The event was co-hosted by the city of Gresham and the Johnson Creek Watershed Council.

"Earth Day just brings people together," said Marissa Eckman, community outreach coordinator for the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, with a beaming smile. "It is my favorite day of the year because people are always in such great moods."

In Troutdale nearly 75 volunteers gathered for an Earth Day beautification and clean-up event at the Stuart Ridge Greenway Saturday morning, April 23. They removed dead brush and fallen limbs, and planted more than 100 native plants and trees. Many of the volunteers were families and youths.

In Gresham, a large contingent of the Earth Day volunteers were from the nonprofit Oregon Environmental Council, which is headquartered in Portland.

"Coming out to Gresham made sense because a lot of our group uses the (Springwater Trail) and visits this park," said Joel Schoening, OEC director of communications. "Earth Day is a huge day for us because our nonprofit organization was created around the same time out of those same environmental consciousness ethos."

"We are excited to be in Gresham moving some dirt," added Gunthrie Straw, who helped coordinate the outing.

All of that attention and support from the volunteers will hopefully have those plants thriving in Gresham. The slope in the park had been left mostly bare after last summer's brutal heat wave, which officials said killed nearly 80% of all first-year plants across the city. The mulching will give the new plants the best chance of surviving.

And though many of those plants died in last year's heat, there was one positive . A cluster of ninebark, a flowering shrub and scourge to beavers, has new growth thriving after cuttings were taken from the heatwave flora victims.

"These plants are resilient," Wallace said. "Sometimes they just need a little help."

Gresham Gophers go green and clean

PMG PHOTO: ANGEL ROSAS - Gresham High School softball team went above and beyond cleaning not only both junior varsity and varsity softball fields but also trash on the sidewalk outside of the school.  Gresham High School athletes and student-club members also donated time on Friday to help clean-up and beautify the campus and surrounding for the second annual Gopher Day.

"It is a great event that shows that these students care about their community," said Gresham High School's activities director Brian Davis.

Around 50 baseball, softball, tennis and track and field athletes volunteered their day off to come back to campus to clean up their respective fields and places of competition to help the environment and take pride in their school and community.

Freshmen tennis player Ava Culbertson said volunteered her time to clean up the tennis courts because she said she wanted to show of the pride she has for her school.

"I just wanted to clean up so we can take pride in our school and look presentable and clean when other schools come by," said Culbertson.

Nearly the entire Gresham softball team came in to not only maintain its field, but also their junior varsity field and some spots just outside of the school.

"We wanted on not just our field but the JV team's too and even on the street," said softball senior Peri Leo. "It is also Earth Day today, so we are also trying to help our Earth while we are doing all of this."

Despite having the day off many of the students said they wanted to help make their community a nicer place. "We had the day off, but we just wanted to come by pick up some trash and help our community," said Gresham softball co-captain Ally Downing.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR  - Families in Troutdale cleared dead brush and planted natives at the Stuart Ridge Greenway.

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