Written by Nancy Stone
NWTA, in collaboration with Portland Parks and Recreation, teamed up with Catlin Gabel students who are involved with the school’s Applied Leadership in the Outdoors after-school course to learn about trail maintenance at Powell Butte.
In a fun exchange of knowledge, the students shared what they have learned of native plants found in the park, and we shared what it takes to maintain the trails within the park. As the wise John Muir once said, ” When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” And so it goes, with access to trails and nature, we are granted knowledge of the plants and wonders that lie within it. This proved to be a valuable lesson in the ever-important, sustainable access to nature.
We observed how rain and water flow significantly affect the quality and longevity of our trails during our time together. The South Trail at Powell Butte offered an opportunity to divert water flow that was scouring through the trail by building a few rolling drain dips that will now redirect the water off the trail and into the meadow where the plants and grasses will disperse it.
The students were very impressed with how much of a difference they were able to make in a relatively short time, and we were impressed with how quickly they grasped the concepts we were teaching and got right to work. As we know, hard work can be gratifying, but so can the many words of gratitude given by the hikers and bikers passing through as the students improved the trail. In an afternoon full of lessons, this left them with yet one more: if everyone chipped in, just a little bit, on the trails that they recreate on, we would all benefit.