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By Nate Foster, Lake Oswego High School Green Team Leadership

For the past year, I have had the privilege of working with the Oswego Lake Watershed Council (OLWC) on their “Trees on Campus” project, in which they support ivy pulls and native planting events at local schools. Lake Oswego High School (LOHS) has a large green-area by the tennis courts previously rendered unusable as Himalayan blackberries and English ivy enveloped the space. The students of the Green Team knew that something needed to be done but had no resources nor knowledge on the subject. We got in contact with Jack Halsey and Stephanie Wagner at a meeting we mutually attended, and quickly planned our first event.

At the first of many events, we saved at least a dozen trees by sawing off ivy from their trunks and clearing thousands of square feet of invasives from the ground. Having never taken part in a large volunteer group like this at the high school, an ardent enthusiasm was felt amongst the Green Team student volunteers, realizing that this work made a tangible impact in our community. We kept up like this once a month up, braving the cold and rain, until the pandemic struck last March. One particular memory at an event sticks out from the rest. A fearless OLWC volunteer, Mike Buck, ventured down a hillside to save several large trees, and upon return was left with a stream of blood trickling down his face from a blackberry thorn. I was frantic and yet he smiled and gave a thumbs-up, assuring me he was more than alright– there’s something truly special about saving trees.

Our efforts with OLWC started up again in October, only this time we were decked out in masks and distancing protocols. After several Green Team and National Honor Society events over the past year, we had finally removed enough invasive species to initiate the end game: replanting with native plants. Jack Halsey picked up nearly two hundred plants– a mix of shrubs and trees ranging from Douglas firs to Oregon grape– and laid them out on the site. After two hours in the pouring rain and help from two dozen volunteers, we replanted the majority of the land we cleared, mitigating erosion and providing habitat for insects and other critters. It was refreshing to see our months of labor come to fruition.

While we have a long way to go before the area is completely restored, I’m eager and grateful for the partnership the LOHS Green Team has formed with the Oswego Lake Watershed Council, and we’re looking forward to more events in the future– hopefully without blood this time!