What can an ecologist and a semi-retired graphic designer accomplish together?
Together is the keyword.
The togetherness of a project like Friends of Baltimore Woods is most important when trying to restore the valuable yet little known natural resource that is in danger of being lost: Baltimore Woods.
The 30-acre Baltimore Woods Connectivity Corridor fills a critical gap in the Willamette Greenway and regional 40-Mile Loop bicycling and walking trails, situated between the incredibly scenic Cathedral and Pier Parks in North Portland. This unique urban greenway, recognized for its special habitat value to plants and wildlife, faces threats from invasive species and development pressures that could eventually spoil its natural value. The volunteer group, Friends of Baltimore Woods (FOBW), is dedicated to preserving and restoring this corridor, and even offers walking tours of Baltimore Woods.
Barbara Quinn, Board President of FOBW, started volunteer organizing for the group in 2007. In addition to being a community organizer, she is a semi-retired graphic designer, and in her spare time, is an avid organic gardener, tends a small flock of hens and enjoys propagating native plants to create her own backyard habitat. Barbara’s story (which you can hear on our Community Conservation episode Neighborhood Stewardship and Urban Landscapes) is the epitome of community conservation. Shared spaces like neighborhoods grow stronger when their residents actively participate in their care, and after observing the need in her own neighborhood, acted on that urge to participate. Together with neighbors, Barbara has been an avid participant in the structure of the group and their efforts...but 30 acres of restoration is a task that needs support.
Laura Guderyahn has worked as an Ecologist, first for the City of Gresham and now for Portland Parks and Recreation for 15 years. Her personal love is for frogs, salamanders and turtles--and you can often find her with binoculars searching for Oregon’s two native turtle species. Laura actively works to restore natural areas throughout the Willamette River and Columbia Slough watersheds, making them as healthy as possible for the wildlife that live there and the people that visit. She works closely with volunteer groups of all ages, helping them to steward our lands and learn about the plants and animals that live in our city. This perfectly describes her work with FOBW. On a cold, sunny, Spring Saturday, you’ll find Laura organizing groups to plant native species within a restoration site. Through her position at Parks and Rec, she supports Barbara and other group members with planning initiatives as well as direct on-the-ground action that the group is known for.
Baltimore Woods is all that remains of the native forest, including deciduous Oregon White Oak and Bigleaf Maple, and evergreens like Douglas Fir and Pacific Madrone that once blanketed this part of the Willamette Valley, and then was logged at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, it is a crucial link for continuous wildlife movement and bird migration along the Willamette bluff, stretching from Willamette Cove north to Smith and Bybee wetlands. To this end, FOBW volunteers strive to restore the woods and improve its ecological capabilities – both as wildlife forage and shelter, and as a healthy, functioning watershed. This kind of participation is one of the most fun and rewarding ways to get involved in a project that will make a real quality-of-life difference for local residents, nature lovers, and our wildlife friends.
Together, Laura and Barbara and hundreds of other volunteers, along with SOLVE, and recently as a fiscally sponsored project for us, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, the nature scape being tended to by the Friends of Baltimore Woods has been able to thrive through collaborative work parties, planting days, and other volunteer-led projects.
Restoring Baltimore Woods will:
Improve the Willamette River watershed’s health by filtering storm runoff so pollutants are not carried into the river
Keep a natural buffer between residential and industrial neighbors
Provide excellent views of the Willamette River, St. Johns Bridge, Forest Park and the vibrant working harbor
Enhance native habitat
Offer trail users opportunities for recreation, education, and a natural experience for walkers and bicyclists, away from auto traffic
Learn about the group, the project, and how to support in their Community Conservation episode, Neighborhood Stewardship and Urban Landscapes.