Mother Nature Has Friends in Lake Oswego

Efforts by Lake Oswego’s Park Stewardship volunteers ensure that native species like this trillium can thrive in their natural habitat.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to give a nod to a mother we can all be grateful for—Mother Nature.

Here in Lake Oswego it seems she has quite a few friends. Over 700 in fact – stewardship program volunteers who got down and dirty last year all in the name of restoring our natural areas. What drives them to pick up a shovel and gloves, brave the elements at times, and tackle jobs that could have been featured on one of the tamer episodes of the former Dirty Jobs TV show?

“Stewardship volunteers know they make a difference in the health of a living forest,” explains Babs Hamachek, Lake Oswego’s Parks Stewardship Coordinator.Unlike some volunteer efforts where it’s difficult to gauge a person’s impact, stewardship volunteers can see the direct results of their contributions.

For Heidi Schrimsher it has meant, “Watching parks evolve from ivy and blackberry infested deserts to biodiverse microcosms, and making these areas accessible to our community.”

With a masters in landscape architecture Schrimsher seems like a perfect fit for this line of work but the spectrum of volunteers is quite diverse. “My favorite work parties include parents with kids of all ages (including young ones that are more interested in finding worms than anything), high school kids looking for community service hours and empty nesters,” explains Schrimsher. “These diverse neighbors, who would likely never interact, get together in the park for the same purpose – to act as stewards of the land.”

Nobody said the work was glamorous, but for those who value a healthy natural habitat, it’s rewarding.

So what kind of dirty work do these volunteers actually do?  Urged on by the battle cry, “Free the Trees!” much of their time is spent pulling English Ivy off trees and removing other invasives such as Himalayan Blackberry and Travels Joy Clematis that smother native plants.

Once areas are cleaned up, volunteers can plant native species and help with other projects that protect the natural area of the park like spreading mulch or picking up debris. Thirty-five work parties were held last year, usually lasting for two hours on a Saturday or Sunday.

Mother Nature isn’t the only one that profits from these good deeds. The volunteers themselves get to exercise outdoors, meet new people who share their environmental values, and enjoy the health benefits of being in nature such as: stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, increased ability to focus, and increased energy level. As Hamachek explains, “It’s a win/win for the volunteers and the natural areas.”

Check out stewardship volunteer opportunities online. Work parties are drop-in and tools are provided.

Keep up to date on what’s to love about Lake Oswego. Click the “Sign me up” button in the top right hand column to receive a new reason to love this town each week.


About lovelakeoswego

I feel pretty lucky—I live where I work and I love where I live. As a Realtor in Lake Oswego, I get to share that enthusiasm with clients every day. Through this blog, with the help of my freelance writer wife, Genita, I’d like to share that enthusiasm with you. The quality of life you’ll find in Lake Oswego belies its size—there is so much to experience here from a fireworks show over the lake on the 4th of July to the Festival of the Arts--one of the premier arts events in the region. So please check in each week for another reason why I love Lake Oswego and who knows—maybe you’ll fall in love too! If you’re interested in experiencing Lake Oswego personally, please feel free to contact me either on my cell at (503) 939-9801, via email at or check my website by clicking the link in the "Contact me" section in the right-hand column. I would love to show you around.
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