By Sarah Mowry
Saturday morning was one of those crisp fall days you're eager for at this time of year: cold with brilliant blue skies and golden fall colors. I took my family out to Camp Polk Meadow to volunteer a bit for the Land Trust and take a walk around the Whychus Creek restoration site.
To get warmed up (and get the baby to sleep) I hit the trails with one of the Land Trust's walk and hike leaders Mary Crow. I hadn't been out to Camp Polk for a long time--since they dug the restored Whychus Creek channel. I realized as Mary and I criss-crossed under the new electric fences that I was looking for drama. It seems intuitive that after bulldozers spend weeks digging a restored creek channel, and after more than 170,000 new plants had been planted that the meadow would look dramatically different.
But the reality is that it didn't. In fact, it almost looked like the old meadow full of grasses and weeds. Back in the office I told our stewardship director Amanda Egertson my perception and she smiled. "You really have to climb on a pile of dirt to see the difference. Once you're up above the meadow you can see the entire restored stream channel."
Oh....climb on a pile of dirt...the thought never crossed my mind. (Should have brought my 3 year old. That would have been first on his mind!!) Had I done that, I would have seen the restored channel meandering slowly through the meadow and that would have helped me see a vision of the future.
Someday soon the meadow will look dramatically different: willows, alder, and other native plants will be so thick next to the restored Whychus Creek that it will hard to see the creek at all. Though the dirt piles will be gone, the view from above will show a greener meadow with that ribbon of plants winding along a much healthier creek. Now I just have to wait. And visit that dirt pile next time I'm out there!