RYLEIGH NORGROVE/CHRONICLE PHOTONorthwest Youth Corps member Liam Chambers (left) and Twin-Rivers student Rusty Knuckles ring invasive ivy plants from trees at Logs Jam recreation site.

RYLEIGH NORGROVE/CHRONICLE PHOTORYLEIGH NORGROVE/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Weed-A-Thon: Students pull invasive species for 24 hours

By RYLEIGH NORGROVE [email protected]

JASPER – A Lane County charter school has continued branching out to help maintain local parks in Eugene and beyond, hosting a 24-hour “Invasive-Weed-A-Thon” on Earth Day at Logs Jam, a state recreation site near the Willamette River in Jasper.

Dustin Wigham is a senior at Twin Rivers who’s passionate about protecting and preserving natural resources. “This is my second 24-hour clean-up, and it was the first time I really felt like I was a part of something. Knowing I’m a part of an effort to help conserve the environment is something I love,” he said. 

Jay Breslow, principal of the outdoor-focused high school, said the Invasive Weed-A-Thon aligns and amplifies the school’s mission: to get more kids outside. 

“If we’re studying volcanoes, we go to the mountains. If we’re studying the coast, we go to the coast,” Breslow said. “This event is a really unique opportunity to really put your hands on the things that you’re studying – and that’s land-management.”

Twin Rivers has been managing the land at Logs Jam for the last few years, alongside the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council. The project started when Breslow called the State Parks and Recreation Division, asking if they had land that needed extra help. Now it’s a hands-on project where students learn plant identification and conservation.

These students are conservationists in training. Haley Schradle, a junior from Creswell, wants to be a forrester just like her dad. To her, working out at Logs Jam is much more than an Earth Day celebration. 

“It’s cool; throughout the years I’ve been here, the park has changed so much,” she said. “We get to come back to the sites we first worked on and see the impact we actually made. I can even come back and help out when other students come to work here.”

Students started the park clean-up at 10 a.m. on Earth Day, rotating in shifts throughout the night to pull blackberry brambles and ringing trees. The clean-up was a part of the larger conservation plan put together by students who used mapping technology to determine which areas needed the most care. 

“So at our school this is a normal Tuesday for us, right, we’re out in the woods doing conservation and restoration work whether it’s in a state park like this one or working with the city or working with, you know, the Forest Service,” principal Jay Breslow said. “Our students go out into the world and do this kind of work.”

Schradle had one last message for us, saying, “Just pick up your trash. Even when I’m not in school, if I go into a park, I’m picking up trash. We do awesome work out here – but it’s all of our job to take care of places like this.”