ST. HELENS — For the Friends of Nob Hill Nature Park, 2012 turned out to be a successful year. The group acts as park stewards for the small, oak woodland natural area.
“We are thankful to all in the community who have come out this year to help out,” said Caroline Skinner
The group said it had a good turnout at both our semi-annual work parties, which were held on the first Saturday in April and again on the first Saturday in November. They also had a good turnout in the weather department as both events saw relatively clear skies.
In April, a wheelbarrow was used to bring in loads of gravel provided by the City of St. Helens to the lower trail. Since this area gets particularly wet and swampy in winter, the new, firmer gravel trail bed is expected to greatly improve conditions for walkers. Ivy was pulled off the ground a short way above the lower trail area and both trillium and fawn lily were seen in bloom in abundance.
In August, a new 16-foot boardwalk was installed near the Third Street trailhead. The area has running water across the trail during the wet season, so it often became very muddy last spring from the trail being used so much. With donated wood, a small group of volunteers constructed the boardwalk in place. The Friends then had to wait for many months – until late November – to see water actually running beneath the new bridge. New gravel placed there also improved the footing.
In November, we had a good group, including some Cub Scouts from Scappoose. Thanks to Chas McCoy at Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, we had an array of native plants for those eager workers to put in. We planted them in the area around the lower bridge. Since it had been dry and rainless for a long time, the ground was still dry. Fortunately, the rains came back shortly after our planting day. We also had mulch available to help retain moisture and suppress weeds at the base of each new plant. Some of the plantings include yarrow, thimbleberry, willow, spirea and red twig dogwood.
Since deer love to munch on new plants, the group went back and screened some of them with chicken wire. Others pulled ivy from along the trial’s edge. Each work party helps improves the park and it is slowly reverting to a more natural state. Oak woodland was once common through out the Willamette Valley, covering up to two million acres. Today it is considered a rare and valuable habitat, making Nob Hill truly a special place.
The Friends also thanks the City of St. Helens for providing them with gravel for trails, and the Columbia River PUD for a large pile of free mulch, waste from nearby line-trimming, that will be put to use in a myriad of ways.
To visit the park, take Gable Road at Wal-Mart in St. Helens. Go towards the river then bear right on Plymouth Street and go until you see the wastewater treatment plant on the right. There is plenty of easy parking at the water treatment plant across from the park’s main entrance. The next Friends of Nob Hill work party is on April 6, 2013 or possibly in the park this winter.