River Restoration: Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Horticulture Club collaboration

On Jan. 14, members of the local Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society met with members of the LBCC Horticulture Club and environmental restoration group The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Water Action Team down by Dunawi Creek in Corvallis. The group was assembled as part of an ongoing project to restore natural habitat and prevent the erosion of soil near the Willamette River.

For years, the health of the river has been threatened by the increased agricultural activity in the local area, but also as far as Portland and Eugene, which have connections to the Willamette through many small watersheds spread across Oregon. Farming and other activities have caused much of the surrounding soil to erode, depositing harmful chemicals, fertilizer, and other sediment into the river. This has many negative effects, such as causing an overgrowth of algae and uninhabitable conditions for fish and their eggs, as the normally loose gravel at the bottom of the river becomes more compact, suffocating the eggs.

To help alleviate some of these problems, the group that gathered at the river brought along gloves, wheelbarrows, shovels, and truckloads of plants to place around the area. Trudging through the mud, they spent three hours digging holes, removing plants from their pots, and placing them in ground. Over time, these trees will take root and prevent the topsoil from entering the river, along with the undesirable sediment. This will contribute to the overall health of the river, as well as possibly save the city large sums of money that have previously gone towards costlier restoration efforts and general maintenance of the Willamette.

This event was organized by David Eckert, of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Water Action Team, as well as our Chapter President of Phi Theta Kappa, Taylor Megy. Taylor, as well as the rest of the participants plan to return to the site in the future and check on the results of their work, as well as volunteer for future planting events. More details about the research behind this event and the issues still facing the river will be published at a later date.

There is still a lot of work left in improving the ecological health of the Willamette River. If you’d like to become a member of Phi Theta Kappa or volunteer for events such as this, please feel free to contact one of our advisors at morganc@linnbenton.edu or petersg@linnbenton.edu

On Behalf of Phi Theta Kappa Society