Since 2018, the Sandy River Watershed Council has had the pleasure and honor of celebrating Earth Day through a partnership with Vive NW, introducing members of the Latinx community to the Mt. Hood National Forest via organized ecological stewardship activities funded by the NFF’s Treasured Landscapes program.
Partners worked together to optimize the cultural accessibility of these events by coordinating logistics like carpooling, translating waivers, inviting family members of all ages, providing bilingual small group leaders, and favorite foods! Both stewardship days dawned wet, as is typical of these forests in April. Nevertheless, stalwart volunteers arrived eager to take up shovels and armfuls of invasive ivy to restore critical forest, stream, and riverside habitat where endangered salmon lay their eggs.
Chatting informally with group leaders in English and Spanish, volunteers eagerly learned about lichens and mosses and riparian forest ecology, enhancing their enjoyment of the glistening canopy around them. Many expressed that it was personally important knowing their efforts contributed meaningfully to improving forest health.
The success of this first event lead to the return of several volunteers and double the anticipated enrollment for the second Earth Day. Despite the pouring rain that year, participants remained enthusiastic throughout the laborious work of removing a two-foot deep blanket of ivy by engaging in friendly competition with other groups to see who could roll the largest ivy “burrito.” Everyone cheered for their accomplishment at the end, and groups from both years enthusiastically agreed they would come again, and gratefully took part in the hot lunch provided afterwards.