Natural resources manager earns honor for advancing community forests, pollination pathways

You would think that in his 18-year tenure as the City of Wilsonville's natural resources manager, Kerry Rappold would have seen all that the city's natural environment has to offer. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kerry Rappold, Natural Resources Manager, walks along a trail in Memorial Park.

But every once in awhile, Rappold will discover a bobcat traversing through a wildlife passage, a cluster of trillium flowers or a pileated woodpecker flying through Memorial Park.

Along with these flashes of novelty, it's the knowledge of what he's already done to protect Wilsonville's environment that keeps him invigorated.

Recently, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Community Trees named Rappold one of four recipients of the Oregon Urban and Community Forestry Award for his work to advance urban and community forests.

"I had no idea I was going to receive this and it's (Oregon Community Trees) an organization I respect a lot. They do a lot within the state. I've known some of these people personally that are involved with the organization," Rappold said. "To be recognized by them is truly an honor. It's something I will definitely cherish."

Among other things, Rappold was honored for his work to help form the Bee Stewards Wilsonville program and administer the development of wildlife corridors under city roads.

The bee stewards program was instituted in response to an event Rappold said shed a negative light on Wilsonville. In 2013, thousands of bees died in Argyle Square after a pesticide was sprayed on about 50 European linden trees located on a business site.

"They (the pesticide applicator) didn't follow the guidelines in terms of what they did," Rappold said. "They sprayed it at the worst possible time and it was covered in maybe 100,000 bumblebees."

Wilsonville City Manager Bryan Cosgrove said Rappold was a key member of the response team after the event.

"He was all over that, working with the city attorney to make sure damage was mitigated to the greatest extent possible," he said.

To create a positive out of a negative event, the City, led by Rappold, started its Bee Stewards program, where they developed pollinator habitats, placed educational signage in Memorial Park and the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant Park and created an Integrated Pest Management Plan to limit the amount of pesticides used on City property.

"He (Rappold) was integral in making sure we're using best practices but also the least amount of pesticides we need to use," Cosgrove said.

In turn, the City has since been named a Bee City USA in recent years.

"Even though we, as the City government, weren't involved with what happened out there (the bee deaths), we wanted to make sure we're doing everything we can to make this a pollinator friendly city and are helping to preserve and restore habitat," Rappold said.

Rappold also helped develop a wildlife passage under Boeckman Road near the Coffee Lake Wetlands, which he said was an important connection for many animals.

"It's important in terms of the variety of species that go through there," Rappold said. "We have some significant species here such as cougars, bobcats, coyotes, otters, mink and things people wouldn't necessarily be aware of that are moving through these areas."

To do that, the City built a barrier to keep the wildlife away from the road and funnel it into a culvert under the road as well as an amphibian wall to prevent amphibians from climbing onto the road. The City hired a Portland State University researcher to monitor the project and Rappold said that the researcher found wildlife was still able to migrate easily after the road was built.

Rappold was involved with planning the project, designing the passage and monitoring its effectiveness. PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Kerry Rappold, Natural Resources Manager, looks at the restoration progress in Memorial Park.

"I've never seen any roadkill on Boeckman Road. To think about the amount of traffic going through Boeckman Road and the various species moving through there, it's pretty rewarding to think about that," Rappold said.

The City has since implemented a similar wildlife passage under Kinsman Road.

Additionally, Rappold oversees the City's Significant Resource Overlay Zone, which prevents or limits development on some of the City's important natural resources. Last week, the City was in the process of purchasing a 31-acre small forest located in the Parkway Woods Business Park, which Rappold said might not have been possible without the implementation of the overlay zone.

"If it hadn't been for that effort to preserve it we really wouldn't have an opportunity to take on something like that, which is truly a unique forest," Rappold said.

Cosgrove noted that Rappold is involved with monitoring the City's stormwater system and works with a variety of City departments.

"He's definitely at the top of his field and it's nice to see him get the accolades for the great work that he does," he said.

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