On May 12th, volunteers from many walks gathered at the front entrance of the underutilized and overtaken forest at Evergreen Park to work together on what has been an ongoing effort by our Roots & Shoots service-learning program to change those two descriptions.
Thank you to Yale alumni (and future student), home- schoolers, high school students, college students, and other friends and community members who joined us on Mother’s Day! Additional thanks to the City of Hillsboro for providing the tent, tool trailer, and mulch, and to OYA and Dr. Kracker for refreshments!
Evergreen Park adoption has been a signature project for RFH Roots & Shoots since our 2010 Oregon kickoff. Youth and their families have kept the park clean and maintained, volunteered for Hillsboro’s Great Pumpkin Hunt, planted flowers to celebrate Earth Day, and removed invasive Himalayan Blackberry.
The consequences of invasive Himalayan Blackberry on Evergreen Park’s forest include:
- reduced biodiversity due to crowding out of native plants by monoculture
- obscured trails, making the forest less inviting to explore
- concealed areas where vandalism and litter occur
In our vision of the rehabilitated forest, blackberry monoculture is replaced by a variety of native plants, inviting a greater diversity and number of animals to live there. Things are already off to a great start with birdhouses installed by local scouts in some of the clearings.
Well-defined trails make the forest inviting to humans, too, especially local children, who can explore the biodiversity of the forest more easily and safely. As neighbors discover trails, explore the forest, and connect with nature, we hope they too will fall in love with the beauty of life there.
Since 1996, Resources for Health’s mission has been to “empower citizens to care for their health, the environment, and their community.” Here’s how our work at Evergreen Park fits with that mission:
HEALTH: Improved trails invite people to walk. Not only is walking good exercise, walking in the forest is even better. Have you heard of Shinrin -Yoku or “forest bathing,” a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine?
ENVIRONMENT: Better management of invasive species help native plants thrive, inviting more and greater diversity of wildlife into the forest. By invasive species, we’re referring to the blackberry. But do you think we humans are invasive too?
COMMUNITY: Reclaiming the forest from invasive blackberry will require lots of community help, fostering better neighborhood relationships and raising awareness of a park that is somewhat of a hidden jewel. (Some folks who volunteered on the 12th said they lived nearby but never knew the park was there!) And in the words of conservationist Aldo Leopold: “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”
More outdoor adventures and exciting progress await! We hope you will join us again fore our next project in the park on June 8th to help end Nature Deficit Disorder!