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To most people, large-scale ecological restoration of a natural area seems intimidating. It requires meticulous preparation of the land, site-specific calibration of equipment, identification of plants already at the site and those to replace them, and more.
In short, implementing large-scale restoration is better left to the experts. But how does one start on the path to become an expert?
“The best way is to do it and be guided through it,” says Jonathan Soll, science and stewardship manager for Metro Parks and Nature.
Starting in summer 2015, Metro and Verde teamed up to restore a 50-acre forested wetland at Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area dominated by invasive reed canarygrass and other stubborn weeds.
The partnership helps to diversify the ranks of restoration experts by providing training to landscape crews with Verde, a nonprofit based in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland that works to boost environmental wealth for low-income and minority residents.
The project involves a crew of Metro natural resources scientists and restoration experts from Mosaic Ecology working with the Verde landscape team.
“The crew was excited to learn all the steps a project requires from beginning to end, like plant identification, proper equipment use, how to prepare for the day, and also the business side, like project management, problem-solving and how to deal with the client,” says Ricardo Moreno, Verde’s landscape program manager.
Money from the 2013 parks and natural areas levy is helping Metro create new partnerships with community organizations to provide people of color and low-income residents with training in environmental fields.
The partnership with Verde also aims to create long-term economic opportunities for Verde’s landscape team members.
“We want to draw connections and have good alignment of highly skilled crews doing something good for the environment, while making a good living, particularly people of color and low-income residents,” says Alan Hipólito, executive director of Verde. “Some crew members are very interested in restoration as a career and may start their own business or become part of a high-skilled restoration crew.”