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Mill Creek Project
Beginning in October 2008, more than 100 volunteers – including former Gov. Ted Kulongoski, First Lady Mary Oberst, staff from state agencies, and neighborhood students – removed invasive species along the banks of Mill Creek to the north of the State Lands building. The project was completed in November 2009, when volunteers planted more than 300 native species along the creek. A split-rail cedar fence was built on the east end to serve as a barrier for the steep bank near the Summer Street sidewalk.
 
At their Feb. 10, 2009 public meeting, the State Land Board participated in a planting ceremony.
 
On Feb. 14, Oregon’s 150th birthday, 7th grade science students from Parrish Middle School and youth volunteers from St. Joseph’s church in Salem planted about 70 native plants, including sword fern, Oregon grape, Indian plum, red flowering current and wild ginger.
 
On May 16, the project was one of five native plant gardens featured on the Friends of Straub Environmental Learning Center's annual Native Plant Tour.
 
Students from North Salem High School worked weekly on the site as part of their spring-term field biology class, and also helped during October 2009. In August, youth volunteers from the Marion County Extension Service's Youth Enviro Squad spent two days removing blackberry, ivy and other invasives along the creek. Students from Roberts High School and state employee volunteers completed the project in November.
 
The Mill Creek cleanup was the brainchild of DSL wetlands specialist Jevra Brown, who with other DSL staff, helped coordinate the project and recruit volunteers to remove holly, laurel, black locust, Himalayan blackberry and English ivy.
 
The project was the state’s first Take Care of Oregon project. While most statewide activities took place during May 2009, DSL launched the Mill Creek cleanup in October 2008 because of low water and dry soil, and because native species need to be planted when winter rains will provide a good start, said Brown.
 
“It seemed like the perfect project for us because of our mission to protect Oregon’s waterways and because Mill Creek runs right next to our building,” Brown said. “We enjoy working near the creek but have seen invasive species take over the banks and it was time to do something. This is an opportunity to show how diverse and beautiful Oregon's native plants are.”
 
The project has garnered substantial in-kind donations, including plants from Mahonia Vineyards and Nursery and Champoeg Nursery; a 30-yard refuse bin for plant material donated by Allied Waste; landscape assistance and hand tools from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services; and mulch from the Marion County Department of Public Works.
 
“This is a great project – one that we couldn’t do alone as an agency, nor would we want to,” said Louise Solliday, former DSL director. “We hope our efforts will inspire other property owners along Mill Creek to do this in their own backyards.”
 
Oberst, who served as president of the Oregon 150 board of directors, was pleased to be involved in the effort, and said, “we were really amazed at how much was accomplished in just part of a day. Now...imagine the same sort of thing going on in 400 communities across Oregon!”
 
For more information about the Mill Creek project, contact Jevra Brown or DSL communications manager Julie Curtis.

   
East end of creek before plant removal
East end of creek after removal and
fence construction