Periwinkle Creek Restoration Project Requesting Tree Planters
By: Shiloh Terrell
What’s new with the Periwinkle Creek Restoration Project?
Have you been wondering what’s new with the Periwinkle Creek project in Albany, Oregon? Are you one of the many volunteers who have helped with this project in the past? Perhaps you are curious because you’ve read about it on the Ocean Blue environmental news blog. Or maybe you are just hearing about the Periwinkle Creek restoration project for the first time.
This project has been underway since 2016 and is pivotal in recreating a healthy environment for fish swimming upstream.
In April 2021, volunteers will focus on planting native trees and shrubs alongside the creek. The addition of foliage will create a canopy of branches to offer shade for the creek. That shade will lower the water temperatures for the Salmon swimming upstream. The plan is to plant species like Ponderosa pine trees, Alder trees, and several evergreens. Planting native trees like these will help strengthen the banks of the creek.
The established roots from the trees will prevent erosion of the creek bank. During the rainy seasons in Oregon, creeks and rivers flood. Excessive flooding without strong roots in place to hold the dirt together leads to sediment build-up in the water. The sediment affects the water quality and the fish. Local polluted water runoff is a problem as well. It is crucial to the lifecycle of the fish and other wildlife that depend on the stream to provide clean, cool water.
A Highway for fish
Urban creeks and streams like Periwinkle Creek are an essential highway system for fish. Especially for breeds like winter steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. These fish swim from the ocean and up freshwater streams to reach spawning grounds. The calmer waters at the mouth of Periwinkle Creek provide a place for the salmon to rest. These salmon have a long migratory journey to spawning grounds further upstream.
The Calapooia Watershed Council (CWC) identifies Periwinkle creek as a crucial part of the Willamette River. The city of Albany recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy environment for the fish.
Several years ago they incorporated a fish ladder into the lower section of Periwinkle creek. A fish ladder helps salmon travel over complex areas of the river so they can continue their journey upstream. The confluence of the rivers when it floods is one of the few areas the fish can rest without pollution. The goal is to create a habitat that is safe for the fish any time of year.
What does the current timeline look like?
Unfortunately, like many areas of our lives, the project came to a halt in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Confusion surrounding new rules and regulations in Albany, Oregon led to massive delays with the project. Many nonprofits were uncertain how to proceed with the projects they love. With the arrival of several different COVID vaccines, people are able to be in larger groups, although masks are still required. After a lengthy delay, the project is back on track for another year.
Since 2016, Ocean Blue has planted 9,900 trees. The long-term goal is to plant 50,000 trees in total along the Willamette River and its tributaries by 2025. Ocean Blue needs your help to make this happen through donations and activism.
During the next month the founder of Ocean Blue, Richard Arterbury, plans to lead a team of youth and teens to begin planting. He has selected volunteers that live and work together to limit cross exposure to COVID.
Currently, the ground is oversaturated with water from seasonal rains. The ground needs to be dryer so they can work with the soil. Dryer ground will also allow them to use large tractors to move wood chips into the area. Until the ground is ready, the team is working to determine the species of shrubs that are best for the area.
Periwinkle Creek is an urban stream, which is more complicated to rehabilitate than a wild stream. There are sidewalks and pedestrians in the area so shrubs must be thoughtfully considered to avoid unwanted issues. For example: if berry-producing shrubs were planted, there could be an excess of birds that eat the berries. This consumption would lead to bird droppings on the sidewalks.
The team will plant the chosen shrubs and trees, as well as clean up trash in the surrounding area. Over the next few years, the goal is to observe each tree’s growth. Water quality tests and temperature checks will be performed frequently. Ocean Blue will continue working with students to perform this testing to continue education on the science of ecology.
Step 1: We need your help… donate for Earth Day!
Sounds like an awesome project, right? So, what can you do to help? Donate funding to help plant a tree! Earth day is right around the corner – April 22nd, 2021. If you are looking for a nonprofit environmental charity to donate to for Earth Day, the project managers at Ocean Blue treat every day like Earth Day.
The work being done to rehabilitate Periwinkle Creek is critical to the overall vitality of the watershed. Watersheds like the Calapooia drain directly into our one world ocean. Rehabilitation projects like this one prevent further buildup of pollution and microplastics in the ocean.
Each year, the restoration team involves many volunteers. They come from Oregon State, Linn-Country Juvenile Justice, and local high schools to help with planting and clean up. Stewardship action projects in this local area support the New Beginnings Garden, which is housed at the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility. These facilities provide horticulture skills and therapeutic activities for incarcerated youth.
Meeting up in challenging times
In 2021, gathering a large group of people for volunteer work has been difficult, to say the least. There are regulations surrounding the number of people in a group, mask-wearing, and general fear of spreading COVID. This has prevented the usual level of activism seen in this community.
Project organizers know and understand the importance of having teens and students involved in volunteer work. But concern about everyone’s safety is the top priority, which limits the number of participants. The founders of Ocean Blue have received funding from Patagonia, The Schwemm Family Foundation, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund – as well as from individuals and businesses in the local community. The trees are 100% donated.
Every tree you help fund improves the quality of the project. Since volunteer space in 2021 is limited, donating a tree to the Periwinkle Creek project or any local community is a great way to show you care. Find a nonprofit near you that supports your local watersheds. Donate a tree!
Step 2: Pick up your trash… And someone else’s too
Our cities, towns, and neighborhoods struggle with pollution every day. In an interview with Richard Arterbury, the founder of Ocean Blue, he recognized the hopelessness many volunteers feel living in a world with COVID. While we may not be able to work in the same areas at the same time, we can certainly work together – virtually!
You may believe that mandatory lockdowns across the country would mean less trash and less pollution. But we are finding the opposite is occurring. Single-use paper masks are being discarded in parking lots. Latex gloves are littering waterways. And the same amount of cans, bottles, and wrappers are carelessly thrown wherever it pleases people. All that trash is going downhill… flowing right into the ocean.
We all live in an area with important streams, creeks, and rivers. Our city streets are a mere reflection of the ocean. If the garbage ends up in our streams it will make its way to the oceans – Guaranteed.
One of the ways you can help is to walk around waterways in your neighborhood or city and pick up as much trash as you can. Did you know that more than 8 million tons of plastics are dumped into the ocean each year? If you’re tired of being stuck inside (I know I am!), then gather your family together and go pick up some trash!
This Earth Day, set aside a few hours to pick up trash. The world needs your help to keep trash off our streets and out of our oceans.
Step 3: Tell your friends
We live in a virtual world these days. What better way to spread community involvement than social media? Share this story, message your friends, and make a plan together. Earth Day is April 22nd – be sure to post this story and include your plans to donate or pick up trash. Tag your friends. Tell your family.
The crew that dismays together stays together.
One place to call home
The earth is our one and only home. It’s our job as its stewards to keep it clean and healthy. This year for Earth day donate a tree and pick up trash while practicing social distancing. One person makes a big difference. But if that one person leads hundreds more to join them on a quest for cleaner rivers, waterways, and oceans… We may collectively make a difference that will carry on for generations.
To get involved with the Periwinkle Creek Project in Albany, OR reach out to Ocean Blue via this website.
Author Bio: Shiloh is a single mom of two kids, and works in the insurance industry full time. Outside of the office, she flexes her creative muscles by writing. She also enjoys practicing handstands and yoga. From the time she was 10 yrs old, she wanted to be a marine biologist. Writing articles like this allow her to express her love for the environment.