As people across the country adapt to working from home while the novel coronavirus spreads, work to plant trees and improve ecosystems in local natural places has continued.
Last week, professional tree planters completed their work to bring 100,000 native trees and shrubs to 35 acres of oak and shrub wetland habitats in the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.
The work was part of a regional campaign called Promise the Pod, which is supporting initiatives to restore key salmon habitats in wetlands, rivers and streams along the west coast with the goal of improving necessary resources for orca populations, according to a statement from Portland-based nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
The project was funded through a donation from One Tree Planted as part of a regional effort supported by the foundation to plant 1.5 million trees and shrubs by the end of 2020.
The plantings were concentrated along wetland edges and near the entrance to the wildlife refuge located near Highway 99W north of Sherwood. The trees are highly visible and will bring new wildlife viewing opportunities while they support food sources for fish, birds and pollinators, Bonneville said.
"I grew up close to this refuge, and I remember walking around here when I was about 12 years old," said Spencer Hansen, field operations manager for Ash Creek Forest Management, which planted the trees. "Now I have the opportunity to be a part of planting it and creating habitat. This site is so important for birds, from waterfowl to migratory birds, songbirds, and bald eagles. There is quite a lot of trail access here and people are going to be able to enjoy watching these plants grow in the years to come."
Planted species include Oregon white oak, willow, crabapple, Douglas spiraea, and numerous other tree and shrub types, Bonneville said.
The wildlife refuge and new habitat is open to the public every day from dawn until dusk, but visitor center operations are currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Professional tree planters cannot do their jobs from home, and as hourly workers, crewmembers are vulnerable to the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, Bonneville said. Planters have been proactive in creating a safe work environment amidst the outbreak by regularly wiping down of "high-touch" surfaces, including van door handles, with bleach solution and using personal protective equipment, including safety glasses, gloves and hard hats, which are already standard but provide some protection and reduce hand-to-face and hand-to-hand contact, Bonneville said. Crew sizes have also been kept small at five people.
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