Stewardship In Tryon Park

Word count 1,000

Our leader got away with repeating parts of a previous presentation, so I’m trying the same thing.

Stewardship Goal – Move towards a more natural state (encouraging native plants and removing invasive species) while improving access (improving trails).

This is done with the heavy lifting by the park staff (gravel delivery, trail building) and lots of work by volunteers.  Volunteer work is accomplished by ivy removal on  Saturdays,  adopt-a-plot patch improvements, corrections crews, school & corporate work parties, special events such as Earth Day and the small specialized work parties organized by Phil (I’m only using first names to avoid litigation). Mel was an adopt a plot pioneer.  Pauline rounds up Hands On Portland people for ivy removal one of those Saturdays per month.

At the beginning of stewardship, the idea was to get a small plot into a more natural state.  That has been greatly expanded.  About 18 years ago trail improvement began by laying down gravel on most of the trails.  This was done by moving the aforementioned gravel up to a quarter of a mile by wheelbarrow.  After a few years that was finished and now we do maintenance as needed.  Much of this is done by Keith, who has done trail work internationally, working with corrections crews.

The specialized work parties have some real heroes.  Ex POB Larry is closing in on 4,000 hours at Tryon.  Two of the more recent additions are John and Diane, both of whom are still employed unlike those of us in the geezer squad.  Diane spent some vacation time working in the park and has filled in on leadership when Phil is otherwise occupied.  John does work that impresses this old timer.

We do some plantings where we think they can survive, but most of our work is getting rid of the invasive plants:

English Ivy – covers most of the park.  We have removed 200 acres or so out of the nearly 700 acres.  It arrived by birds dumping the seeds over the park.  We put a higher priority on removing ivy from the trees than the ground.

Himalayan Blackberry – Luther Burbank’s worst idea?  Known to eat abandoned houses.  Best tasting invasive.  It can form tip roots so two or more ends must be removed.  One day Phil found one with four tip roots, which was highly unusual, but then yours truly found one with five tip roots.  Might be Guinness material.

European Clematis/Traveler’s Joy – Did this originate here from the rootstock used in ornamental clematis?  You can see around town covering trees with large clouds of fluff containing the seeds.  It spreads like dandelions and the vine can grow 50 feet long in a year.  The roots can be 40 feet long and are difficult to remove.

English holly – Pulled if possible, cut and poisoned otherwise.  Typically there will be a lot of small trees under a big one growing from seeds or layering by branches or roots.  Weird sighting – a branch growing between two trees.

Others – Garlic Mustard, Stinky Bob/Herb Robert/Wild Geranium, Japanese Knotweed, laurel, hawthorn and vinca.

My best sightings at Tryon – Great horned owl, dueling pileated woodpeckers, pacific giant salamander, coyote couple and a shrew family undisturbed by our ivy pulling.  If you have not been to the park, drop by.  There is an easy level paved path for those that don’t want a long walk.

Many other groups outside of the park are working on cleanup – Tryon watershed, Lake Oswego & Portland cities, volunteer efforts at many area parks and neighborhoods.  Dave worked with the Oregon legislature to declare English ivy a noxious weed and now works on Mary S. Young Park.  Mike leads cleanup on the very difficult slopes of Iron Mountain Park.

The politics of the environment are difficult.  In Lake Oswego many residents felt that government mandates were overreaching and, largely because of that, the city council changed hands.

Tryon’s greatest volunteer, the multi-award winning Phil had a celebration of his first 20,000 hours of volunteering.  Because I thought everybody would be praising him, I decided to go the other way and treat it as a roast.

 Phil Roast (praised by faint damns) (this was a testimonial for his twenty years and 20,000 hours of service, so I decided to go the other way – these are largely lies)

If I go over an hour signal me to wind it up.

Welcome to Phil’s 100th birthday Roast. 

Is he really dedicated?  He left ivy pulling early to do food pantry work one day.  He’s used hospitalizations and vacations as excuses to get out of work.  He is now getting Keith to do some of the work.

How is he at recruiting new volunteers?  Sure he’s getting people who were lost after Buffy The Vampire Slayer went off the air and were looking for a cult to give their lives meaning.  OK, that was me.

He is a show off.  When I mentioned Sharon and I had the couple’s volunteer hour’s record, his wife Rosie started to volunteer.  He went out on a work party on crutches.  He outworked a high school football player.

His safety record?  We know about his injuries, but what about those shallow graves and missing work sheets for other volunteers?

He is a micromanager.  He always telling me things like:  Use the other end of the saw or shovel, turn the map right side up, the other “over there”, it’s only another hour – you can work with one arm and one leg.

He is a closet intellectual, and we all hate intellectuals.  When I asked him the name of the ancient Indus Valley civilization he quickly gave the correct answer – the Harrapan.

He needs to work on grammar.  I spent years learning the difference between farther and further and Phil keeps misusing further.

Major secret -He’s a twin with different middle initials.  He only works half as many hours as you think.  The other half are done by his brother who works as a standup comic in Las Vegas when he’s not filling in for Phil.

I have nothing farther to say except that you can get a transcript from Friends Of English Ivy in the lobby – $40 for the written version and $1 for the video.

This was a speech at Portland Old Boys 2013

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