Locally Famous Naturalist

by Midge Pierce

Tireless naturalist Mary Kinnick has made her mark on Mt. Tabor. As a longtime board member of Friends of Mt. Tabor Park, she is credited with instigating the weed warrior program that is eradicating invasive species in the park. Kinnick moved to the Mt. Tabor area 10 years ago and was smitten.

“I was drawn to the park as a place to go for the quiet beauty of the forest and in the spring to see and hear the songbirds migrating through. Then I learned that 93% of the natural areas of the park were on poor or severely degraded ecological health and began an involvement with habitat restoration and the Weed Warrior volunteer service project.”

Now, after serving on the FMTP Board for seven years, Kinnick has resigned and will “attempt” to take a respite from board duties. She moved to the Mt. Tabor area 10 years ago and was smitten. Co-chair Beau Russell and fellow foot patrollers say she will be sorely missed.

During her tenure, fundraising efforts have raised more than $50,000 which has helped improve the park experience with a now open Visitor Center staffed by FMTP volunteers and stuffed with educational brochures for the thousands who visit each year.

While others thank her for her contributions, she credits the FMTP Footpatrol with making the park cleaner and safer.

The removal of the spreading ivy, Himalayan blackberry as well as other non-natives, allowed trillium, fringe cup and native blackberry to regain a foothold.

Mary Kinnick received a Volunteer Service Award in 2010 from the Oregon Recreation and Park Association (ORPA) at its statewide conference.

She was instrumental in the Weed Warriors receiving a Spirit of Portland Award and a statewide SOLVE Citizenship Award and her biography lists her as a professor emerita at Portland State University. Her passions are golf, music and travel.

Growing up camping in national and state parks, she learned to appreciate plants native to regions and the need for greater ecological health in natural areas.

“It’s truly thrilling to see a carpet of trillium in the early spring.”

Mary Kinnick
Mary Kinnick

She is proudest of her  accomplishment to help grow habitat restoration and contribute to efforts to recruit outstanding Board members and volunteers as well as collaboration with residents to gain pedestrian and bicycle access to the park along SE 64th.

Last year, she was voted 2015 “Friend of the Year” by the board and volunteers she inspires and says the biggest challenge currently facing the park is accommodating to its popularity.

As the population grows, so do demands for a variety of activities. Current uses vary from the Adult Soapbox Derby to bird watching.

“There is growing understanding of the role places like Mt Tabor play in keeping us mentally and physically healthy as the hustle and bustle of city life swirls around us,” says Kinnick. “We need refuges like Mt Tabor Park.”

Locally Famous Naturalist

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