Native plants enhance PSU campus

A landscaping strip along Southwest 10th Avenue was transformed late last month by Portland State’s Environmental Club. With some help from Facilities and a core of about six volunteers, the group tore out a patch of ivy and planted a beautiful variety of native plants.

Invasive, non-native species are a problem in Oregon, as in the rest of the world. English Ivy is an example anyone who travels Sunset Highway sees everyday. Ivy swarms over smaller plants, climbs and strangles trees, and crowds native species out.

The group used some of its Student Organizing Committee money, but fundraised for most of the cost. “We got donations from families, from faculty members,” said Keith Brkich, Enivironmental Club Coordinator. “We got donations from Portland Nursery … and Bosky Dell Natives sold us plants at wholesale and some donated plants.” The total project cost was $1,500.

The Environmental Club’s purpose is to get students together to discuss their opinions and participate in activities focused on the environment. The group plans to have one native planting annually.

“Basically one of the main reasons we want to do it is to educate people, in native plants, the use of native plants, and then to increase native wildlife, birds and insects,” Brkich said. “We started this project as just sort of a tree planting. It was impossible to get trees OK’d, so we changed to native planting.” Underground fiber optic lines are scattered thoughout campus, which precluded the tree project.

Donations have helped the group recoup $1,000 of the expense, and more is being sought for this and future projects. Brkich singled out the efforts of Mark Shoemaker and Melissa from Facilities as being essential to the completion of the project.

Coming up this spring the club plans to participate in SOLV’s annual beach clean-up and is helping organize an Earth Day fair, April 18. “Our theme is ‘get involved,’ so we’re going to be having organizations come in to recruit volonteers.” To get involved e-mail the group at [email protected].

It’s easy to see the before and after effect of the effort. There’s a strip just up the hill that is identical to the one just replanted. This monoculture of ivy, a tangle of vines a foot thick, is one of the club’s future projects.

Down at the lower corner, young green natives now rise from bare mulch. Tags give the names of the new arrivals; deer fern, western trillium, kinnikinnick and snowberry.

Due to grow much larger are western hazelnut and vine maples.