The photo above was Near the Heron Ridge Bridge. It was taken in 2011. In 2005 the City of Ridgefield had a $12,500 grant to treat Japanese knotweed here. Brush was cleared and the knotweed was treated. After this, Fish First provided 50 potted cedar trees and the city provided $250 for trees as well. Volunteers, lead by Gary Bock, planted the cedars and the other trees above and below the bridge. By 2009 the knotweed, blackberries, and nettles came back with a vengeance. In 2009, some of us volunteered and began cutting brush and treating the knotweed. When the brush was cleared, it showed all the cedars, except the two in the photo, had been eaten by beavers. All the other trees were gone as well. Since that time, I’ve organized many volunteer sessions for treating knotweed and worked to remove the brush. It was very hard work. The growth of weeds each year was formidable. Tevis Laspa and I worked hard to clear brush each year until the weedy growth was under control.
In the photo above, taken a few days ago, the original cedars can be seen to the right of the picture and are in the midst of trees planted since 2010.
I began planting trees in the cleared area in late 2010. It began with a row of willows and cottonwoods on the immediate streambank and then other trees later. There are now over 100 cedars, cottonwoods, willows, Oregon ash, and Douglas fir trees. They are all in cages or behind a fence. The cottonwoods on the stream bank are over 80 feet now and the roots have formed a matrix that prevent erosion. The rest of the trees are providing a canopy that provides shade. The next step will be to provide vegetation that exists in shady conditions. Sword ferns, lady ferns, and vine maples are typical plants that thrive under a forested canopy. Replacing weedy species such as blackberries, Japanese knotweed, and reed canary grass with native species of trees and other plants will help restore Gee Creek and it’s riparian corridor. This is the first project and there are now 10 such projects on public and private property. Some time in the future, these projects will help the creek, create habitat, and create a pleasing environment for people to enjoy the creek and walk along the trail.
By Paul Snoey