By Mary Kinnick

 

Friends of Mt. Tabor Park (FMTP) Weed Warrior volunteers had another banner year removing invasive plants and planting natives. In collaboration with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and many other organizations (Hands on Portland, SOLVE, Warner Pacific College, The Nature Conservancy and more), Weed Warriors broke a number of records in 2014.

More volunteers than ever turned out for last Saturday of the month (March-October) volunteer service projects – 347; more turned out for all sponsored events – 547, a new record for total number of volunteer hours for both Saturday-only projects – 1295 and total projects – 2345 (the equivalent of almost one full time employee). V

Volunteers planted 1295 native plants with extensive pre-and post mulching to increase the chances for plant survival. More volunteers are becoming “regulars” as they see directly the difference they are making to the ecological health of the park.

Weed Warrior Stewardship Coordinator Alexa Todd further ramped up her use of technology to map and describe various sub-units in need of volunteer attention (e.g., the type and extent of invasive plant presence in a specific area and the tools needed to remove the invasive plants). As a result, volunteers were able to increase the focus, effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts. Over six large truckloads of invasive plant debris from 4.43 acres were hauled away.

Almost all 2014 volunteer crew leaders signed on for 2015, and a record nine new crew leaders signed up for the 2015 training program. The group would be unable to do without dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Crew leaders commit to a minimum of two last Saturday of the month volunteer events and participate in a four-hour training program (expanded from two to four hours for 2015).

“I am participating because I’ve enjoyed doing so in the past. It brings me joy to help make Mt. Tabor a more beautiful natural space, to interact with people who care about Mt. Tabor, and to share my background and skillset with new people.”

The nature of the park work is changing. BES crews and Weed Warriors have largely removed the extensive dense areas of English ivy, Himalayan blackberry and clematis vitalba. The challenge for the future is to identify and remove small patches that remain and restarts which are spread over large areas of the park. Needing removal are new opportunistic invasive plants that find their way into the cleared areas and preventing the spread of native plants.

A dedicated group of Weed Warriors will be needed for the long-term to ensure the ecological health of the park is sustained. To join, go to www.taborfriends.org and click on Weed Warriors.