(Far Left) Aidan McNiece, (Left) Jerry Miller, (Middle) Didi Dahlsrud, (Right) Roger Fowler

With all the focus on the virus and attendant complications, it’s good to know that people are still at work, enhancing nature while simultaneously building themselves a better environment and economy. This article will showcase residents and leaders of Clackamas County that have made significant investments, both large and small, of time, money and talent that are creating new opportunities, after the virus.

In Oregon City, resident Didi Dahlsrud Vice President of the Oregon City Parks Foundation has unleashed volunteers and friends to collect nearly one hundred thousand beverage containers for recycling in her “Plastics on Parks Program”. In this effort, water bottles are collected from businesses throughout Oregon City and points South East and West to be redeemed benefitting the Parks Foundation with nearly $5000 per year for needed improvement projects. These projects include Oregon City’s bluff wildflower plantings at Waterboard Park and in other project areas where community volunteers have beautified, created wildlife habitat values and ultimately made difficult park projects possible.

Oregon City’s Heritage tree program can thank senior resident, Phillis Gehring for her efforts to protect Oregon White Oaks throughout the city. Gehring, whose beautiful bluff overlooking home has fought hard to protect her Oregon White Oak – some 36 inches in diameter. She recently had arborists prune this specimen and then had her son contact a youth organization “to see if they needed firewood”. That organization was Rivers of Life Center, who have worked with several hundred youth over the last decade. Upon review of the “firewood, the youth exclaimed, “This is not firewood, it’s a garden living on top of these oversized branches.” Phyllis’ 80-foot-long branch, cut in ten-foot sections and covered with licorice ferns, mosses and wildflowers is now an “80-foot sculpture,” set as a landscape feature, at Eagle’s Landing and Aerie Event Center overlooking Clackamas Town Center.

Neil Nedelisky, founder and operator of the golf course, talks about the hundreds of people viewing the sculpture as part of the habitat enhancements now established as the “Mount Scott Headwaters Project.”

In West Linn, McLean House and Park President Mike Watters continues to improve grounds of the 3-acre riverside location and historic home with volunteers in preparation for fall 2020 and winter and spring 2021 activities that will follow the COVID 19 episode.

Nest boxes, built in late 2019 by Boy Scout efforts for swallows, towee and cavity nest birds such as flickers, woodpeckers and even squirrels are preparing the way for wildlife after the virus.

In Canby, committed members of that city’s Rotary Club and advocates for Future Farmers of America are making a difference for youth. Doctor Ziegg, long time resident of Canby, continues to support the needs of young people with eye sight impairment, while encouraging young people to learn skills and abilities, through experiential learning opportunities provided through the Future Farmers of America.

One young man, Timothy Miller, suffering from extreme astigmatism, was assisted through Doctor Ziegg’s effort to have “better than the best eye sight he ever had,” said Miller. Ziegg’s efforts represent the spirit of getting past problems, while empowering youth to become better members of their community.

Canby Historical Society Vice President and longtime resident, Ken Daniels, continues to serve weekly with volunteers in preparation for fall activities at the Canby Historical Society’s Depot Museum.” Daniels is still excited about his early winter 2020 visits from a family named Canby from Paris France. They were touring museums in America named for general Canby and started in Minnesota, northern California and ended with the “real deal” at Canby’s Depot Museum. “There may be a virus, but we have a fever for working with the community and visitors,” concludes Daniels as he describes their efforts for Fall 2020 and beyond.

In Estacada, there are efforts underway by a politician and a county supervisor who both know how to get things done. The unique team of Commissioner Ken Humberston and Clackamas County Parks Manager Rick Gruen will soon culminate with an early 2021 dedication of the first new saw mill and timber production facility in Oregon. Through Humberston’s and Gruen’s efforts, and with the support of many labor and environmental advocates working together, the first cross-laminated timber production facility will soon be in operation, utilizing small diameter trees, of many species. High value building materials for a “green revolution in building design” will result. Their efforts, over the last several years, have established new investment opportunities for Oregon’s Natural Resource Economy.  

Clackamas County and national Forest Assets will have a new outlook on careful management to feed this mill and production center. Their efforts are leading the way in a balanced environmental and healthy economy. Humberston took special measures to meet with “The Environmental Community” and seek their support early on so that surprises would not come later. Gruen’s natural resource training has given him, Clackamas County and this effort in Estacada a unique place in history. What we’re saying here shouldn’t be something new. What we’re saying here should be said routinely. What we’re saying here is that, when put to the test, people will prevail and spirits have been dampened by the virus, the fever to succeed and make things happen for people, wildlife and our economy is more than alive.

Article by Jerry Herrmann President