At Colorhouse, we try to live like every day is Earth Day. This year was the 45th Anniversary of the designated day for environmental awareness! As part of our community involvement, the Colorhouse crew joined forces with Portland Green Teams Unite, EarthShare Oregon and Willamette Riverkeeper for a day of habitat restoration on Ross Island. It doesn’t get much better than to spend a work day out in nature, canoeing the waters of our beloved Willamette River, and supporting a vision for a healthy, natural habitat in the heart of our city.

Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day

The Willamette River runs through downtown Portland, and twists and turns for 187 wild and scenic miles. Ross Island is a natural treasure in the middle of our city, and home to more than 50 species of birds, including Bald Eagles, Great Blue Heron, as well as other wildlife. Portland Parks and Recreation received a donation of 45 acres of land from the Ross Island Sand and Gravel Company in 2008, and has been working on restoring it to its more natural state.

Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day

Part of this restoration process is the removal of invasive species of plants. We got a great tutorial from Willamette Riverkeeper, Marci Krass, about a number of invasive plants being eradicated from the island, including garlic mustard, which was our task for the day.

Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day

Garlic Mustard forms dense patches, taking over healthy forests and displacing native plants, wildflowers, and tree seedlings. A single plant makes hundreds of seeds. In addition, the roots produce a toxin that kills vital fungi in the surrounding soil. It’s a bad news, noxious weed! But it smells garlicky delicious, is actually edible, and can be made into pesto, used in salads, etc.

So with paddles in hand, we enthusiastically set off for Ross Island!

Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day

Our group of volunteers was given identification and removal tips, and plastic bags for gathering the weeds to ensure they didn’t have a chance to continue to seed. We spread out through the forest on a mission of eradication!

Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day Colorhouse crew volunteers with Willamette Riverkeeper on Ross Island for Earth Day

It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day to be in nature, along with our new friends from Keen, Balfour Beatty and Oregon State University. What a great way to give back to our community! We can’t wait to join Willamette Riverkeeper again Saturday, October 3, 2015 for The Great Willamette Cleanup, their largest clean up event of the year. We’d love to see you there!