Corps hosts successful volunteer event at Cottage Grove Lake

Christie Johnson
Park Ranger, Willamette Valley Project

Forty-three volunteers joined seven Willamette Valley Project staff members Sept. 24 to plant more than 100 trees and shrubs in Pine Meadows Campground and Lakeside Park at Cottage Grove Reservoir. The volunteer project supported National Public Lands Day, the largest annual, single-day volunteer restoration effort for America’s public lands.

More than forty volunteers join seven Willamette Valley Project staff to plant more than 100 trees and shrubs at Pine Meadows Campground  during National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, 2016.

More than forty volunteers join seven Willamette Valley Project staff to plant more than 100 trees and shrubs at Pine Meadows Campground during National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, 2016.

Park Ranger Andre Jovanovic organized the planting project with assistance from Corps botanist Rhiannon Cochrane. Together they developed a landscaping plan made up of all native plants, with the goal of improving the environment for both park visitors and wildlife.

“The trees and shrubs will provide shade and privacy for people, while creating more habitat for birds, native bees, and other insects,” said Cochrane.

Organizing the logistics for such a big project presented the greatest challenge for the Corps staff. They spent several weeks pulling together the supplies, materials and tools needed to make the planting event go quickly and smoothly.

Recruiting a large number of volunteers to help with the work was also key to the project’s success. Most of the participants came from local community groups, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council and Al Kennedy Alternative High School.

Boy Scouts Tim Vance (left) and Owen Land (right) place bark mulch around each plant after planting  during National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, 2016.

Boy Scouts Tim Vance (left) and Owen Land (right) place bark mulch around each plant after planting during National Public Lands Day, Sept. 24, 2016.

Owen Land of Boy Scout Troop 140 said he came out to help with the planting project because community service is an important part of the scouting experience. “Working together with the other scouts also helps to develop leadership skills and build bonds among the scouts,” said Land.

Some of the neighbors with homes near the reservoir also volunteered their time and energy. Since they live nearby and often walk through the parks, they will be able to enjoy watching the trees and shrubs grow.

“The volunteers exhibited a true sense of community and pride in their invaluable contributions to restore public land,” said Ranger Jovanovic after the event. “It was a very rewarding experience to work alongside them on such a challenging project.”