Our new Forest Conservationist

After a very competitive hiring process, Laura Taylor was selected as the District’s new Forest Conservationist, replacing Michael Ahr who now serves with Benton Soil and Water Conservation District in Corvallis. Taylor was formerly the District’s Conservationist & Education Coordinator and has been on staff since 2014.

In her previous role, Taylor provided monitoring, project implementation, and conservation planning support for the forestry, healthy streams, and healthy habitats programs, and managed the District’s education program which provides technical and financial assistance to school and community gardens and local environmental education partners. She worked on forest-related projects with Ahr since the beginning of her time on staff at the District. Together they piloted a two-year forest understory seeding study to look at the effectiveness of different methods of establishing native understory plants from seed.

Taylor is continuing the District’s work of helping woodland owners grow healthy resilient forests by developing forest stewardship plans, providing technical assistance, and managing forest health projects for their properties. She also provides expertise on monitoring and data collection, plants and pollinators. Taylor has been a member of the District’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee since 2018 and currently serves as co-chair.

Taylor has worked for public, non-profit, and private organizations where she provided botanical and ecological technical support. She earned her B.S. in botany and forest ecology from Evergreen State College and M.S. in invasive plant ecology from Portland State University. Taylor is an active volunteer for Friends of Trees and the Citizen Rare Plant Watch. If you need help with your forest property, contact Laura Taylor at 503-238-4775, ext. 112 or laura@wmswcd.org.

Have you heard about Stormwater Stars?

Guest post by Stormwater Programs Specialist, Rachel Dvorsky

Stormwater Stars are properties that have improved their landscaping to help manage rain in our city. By making improvements at many small sites we are creating a larger constellation of stars that together make a big impact.Stormwater Stars logo

Do you have an area of your yard that is damp or soggy that you do not know what to do with? Do you have a lawn space that you would like to replace with native plantings? Perhaps you have seen the Stormwater Stars signs at a past workshop location and are curious about who we are?

We help build skills and confidence for people to work on their own landscapes. Eligible projects improve watershed health, enhance habitat and reduce the need for harmful lawn and garden chemicals. The basic landscaping practices include lawn replacement, depaving, amending soil, porous pathways, contained planters and planting native plants. We host free hands-on installation workshops in the Fall and Spring to demonstrate these practices on residential properties, at businesses, or in community spaces. We also provide free site visits to homeowners and property representatives to help provide guidance for landscape improvements for watershed health.

people planting plants in soil


So how does this all work?

Sign-ups for our free workshops happen through the website. At the workshops we spend a little time introducing what we will be doing that day, and the bulk of the time is spent with our gloves on making the improvements to the site. Every workshop is different and throughout the season we do our best to provide opportunities to learn a variety of different landscaping practices on different size projects. .

Where are our workshops located?

Our workshops are open to everyone located within the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District service area. Most of our projects have been in SW Portland and we have since expanded the area that we serve and are now actively looking to hold more workshops in NW Multnomah County!

Will you come look at my yard?

Site visits are a great way to talk through your specific challenges and goals. We will walk the space and address any questions or concerns you might have, and afterwards we will send you a summary of what we discussed. We do our best to provide you with the resources you need to reach your goals for your yard.

What if I want to host a workshop?

If you are interested in hosting a workshop, we will come look at spaces in your yard that might be a good fit and what practices could be demonstrated. Our workshop areas are typically about 600 square feet in area, but can vary depending on what the site needs. Workshop projects must be visible to the public, typically in front or side yards. Together we will decide if your space would be a good location to bring in volunteers where we can create and learn together. If your site is selected for a workshop we will work together to make a plan. Each site varies in terms of what is needed, and we provide assistance with design, plant selection, compost and native plants.

Interested in learning more?

Please contact the Stormwater Programs Specialist Rachel Dvorsky with questions or to set up a site visit at hello@stormwaterstars.org. You can also find more information about our program, practices, and past projects on our website at www.stormwaterstars.org

We look forward to seeing you at a future workshop!

Stormwater Stars is a program delivered by Neighbors West Northwest and the Westside Watershed Resource Center, in partnership with and funded by generous contributions from West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District and City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.


We’re looking for our new District Manager

District Manager – POSITION OPENING

We are the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, a publicly funded special district conservation organization located in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to provide resources, information, and expertise to inspire people to actively improve air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and soil health. We do this by providing conservation planning services and technical and financial assistance to landowners and land managers in our District.

We are pleased to announce our search for a District Manager. Our District Manager position is key to our organization and is responsible for representation of the District, conservation program and work plan development, organizational, personnel, and fiscal management, and board development and support. This might be the right position for you if you are passionate about natural resource conservation, agriculture, urban and rural land use, and our environment, and you have the skills to inspire, motivate, and align the staff and board toward common goals and strategies in fulfillment of the District’s mission.

The position reports directly to the Board Chair and supervises our staff. Our ideal District Manager will help us create a workplace where we can all thrive while serving our communities!

We require:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent transferable skills in public administration, non-profit management, environmental policy and management, business administration, or related discipline. Transferable skills are any skills gained through education, work experience (including the military) or life experiences that are relevant for this position.
  • Skills in budget development, preparation, and maintenance.
  • Seven years minimum experience in organizational, financial, and personnel management, including direct supervision of staff.

We are looking for an experienced leader with demonstrated ability to interpret and implement statutes, regulations, policies, and laws relevant to the District, and the ability to make decisions with sound judgment and integrity. This position will require you to exercise leadership and critical thinking skills and to work with diverse groups and individuals to continue our current diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and ongoing initiatives.

Download a complete job description here.

The District Manager position is full-time and exempt with a salary range from $105,000 to $155,000. This can be a hybrid position (in-office work combined with telework). We offer a generous benefit package which includes medical, dental, and vision coverage, short and long-term disability, life insurance, Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) participation, optional employee-contribution retirement plan, health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) plan, cell phone stipend, wellness program, employee assistance program, ten paid holidays, alternative/flexible work schedules, personal time, sick leave, and paid vacation leave.

If you are interested in joining us, we encourage you to apply! For confidential consideration, please submit a cover letter and resume to: recruitment@cascadeemployers.com with the subject line “WMSWCD District Manager.” Your cover letter and resume should include details adequate to evaluate how you meet the required and, as relevant, preferred qualifications. Initial screening will begin August 1, 2022; position is open until filled.

Applicants are eligible for Veterans’ Preference when applying with West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District. For more information on required materials to submit, please see our Veterans’ Preference Policy.

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome and encourage applications from Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals. We look forward to hearing from you!

Download this position opening announcement.

So what is GIS, exactly?

By Shahbaz Khan, GIS & Field Conservation Intern

In the past couple of years, you might have come across the term “GIS” and found it puzzling. Being told it stands for “Geographic Information Systems” doesn’t really help since it sounds like something straight out of science fiction. If you’re anything like me when I first came across GIS, you might think it’s something very technical, obscure, and inaccessible.

However, you might not realize that you likely use this technology every day. Whether you’re getting directions and traffic updates on Google Maps, posting about your latest vacation by sharing your location on social media, or more recently, keeping track of the spread of the coronavirus, you are constantly utilizing GIS.

So, what is GIS, exactly? My favorite answer when someone asks me is simply, “maps!”— But that’s only part of the picture. While GIS is a science that is associated with space, place, or location, more specifically, according to Bradley A. Shellito in Discovering GIS and ArcGIS, it is “the use of various technological systems and tools that acquire, analyze, manage, store, and visualize location-based data.”  The software takes information from the old paper maps that we’re used to and attaches data/variables that can be analyzed and correlated with any geography. For example, like the local TV news meteorologists and their maps that display projected temperatures or weather patterns.

GIS has become a means of modern-day exploration that is constantly evolving as we confront new frontiers. With other geospatial technology like drones and remote sensing, or Global Navigation Satellite Systems, we have the potential to orient ourselves all over the planet. It provides us the capacity to access and interpret locations that are otherwise unavailable to us, such as subterranean features (check out Ground Penetrating Radar, Ecological Metadata Language, or Underground Seismic Mapping) or something more interplanetary (Mars Rover, anyone?).

people kneeling in grassy area collecting data of plants on tablets

(Photo by Pat Welle, www.patwelle.com)

While space exploration is definitely on the docket at West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District (just kidding), we also have more grounded applications for GIS. To better address threats to soil health, we take full consideration of soil types and their distribution in the district to better assist farmers and landowners with preserving our natural resources. Another common use here is surveying and monitoring of invasive species. We regularly take point data – meaning we collect the locations – of problematic plants that are spreading across the lower Willamette Valley, then use this information to locate, control, and remove them year-after-year. Now you know that when you see us hunched over our phones and walking around in your neighborhoods, we’re working to conserve the local ecosystems we love!

As a whole, GIS has use in virtually every industry and is fully imbedded in our society. When you think of how useful these systems are in providing context to the world and its people in relation to politics, business, public health, or recreation, you’ll start to see the all-encompassing service it provides us in our everyday lives. Within the environmental field it has become a staple in conservation and restoration efforts to better understand climate change, land use analysis, water quality, wildlife health and much more.

Here at WMSWCD, the mission is to provide resources, information, and expertise to inspire people to actively improve air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and soil health. If you’re interested in getting involved with GIS technology at home, try searching online for the Oregon Explorer natural resources digital library to discover, create and share local and informative maps with your friends and family. iNaturalist is also a very popular online social networking phone application that helps you take your own point data on local species and explore other users’ discoveries to help identify the life around you. Give a shot at using GIS, then join us on your next adventure to conserve and connect with the land we all call home!

Giving back to the soil – cover crops are an easy start

Reciprocity is the exchange of things for the mutual benefit of those involved. When talking about a relationship with soil on a conventional working farm or forest, there is often a one way exchange – growing food or fiber then just walking away. Chemical additives can make up for the nutrients that are taken from the soil in order to produce our goods, but this is a temporary fix with potential for long-term consequences and further dependence on human intervention. It breaks the natural cycle, creates a different potentially harmful cycle, and is not an act of giving to the soil. Chemical additives only feed the growing plant, not the soil ecosystem.

Long-term reliance on chemical additives is a symptom of lost organic matter. Growing plants absorb nutrients from the soil which, in healthy soil ecosystems, come from decayed organic matter left behind from plants that had grown and died there previously. During harvest, that decayed organic matter is removed in the form of the new crops. In addition, by relying on chemical fertilizer, conventional growers not only miss out on some of the fertility offered by the organic matter, their soil also loses some of its ability to hold onto nutrients. Nutrients are only held in clays and organic matter, not sand or slit, so reduced soil organic matter means lower cation exchange capacity which is the measure of the ability of a soil to hold onto nutrients and have them available to the crops.

An increased reliance on chemicals has an economic impact as well. The cost of both the chemicals themselves and the gas to drive the tractor to apply them are always going up. Also, when the soil loses its ability to hold onto nutrients it means there is more potential for those nutrients to get into ground water and streams.

And there’s further potential for problems! Less organic matter also means less ability for the soil to hold onto moisture which therefore increases the need for irrigation, both in frequency and volume of water. This can also lead to increased need for other pesticides, as pest pressure is typically higher when the soil doesn’t have a solid soil ecosystem that supports the predators and other natural controls to those pests.

close-up of a field of green cover crop plants

One relatively easy alternative to this complex and unsustainable growing method, and a great way to give back to the soil, is to plant cover crops. In a basic sense, a cover crop is one that is grown not for direct benefit, like cash or food, but for providing a living thing that can nurture soil biology and structure. When we give back to the soil we are providing resources not just for the crop, but also for the biology of that soil and what it needs to thrive. In other words, when we truly give back to the soil, we are helping to create a healthy soil.

Growing cover crops does not need to be complicated. Here in Oregon, we are lucky to have early fall rains before plants go dormant for the winter. Around September 15th to October 15th is a great time of year to seed a cover crop. There will be enough rain to sprout and support the cover crop before winter allowing it to provide protection and nutrients to the soil. Climate experts are not expecting the rainy season to shift significantly in the near future, meaning there will reliably be rain during that September to October period, however they are predicting – and we are already seeing – that intensity of winter rain storms will continue to increase. Having a cover crop established protects soil from erosion during those more intense storms.

Come spring time, about a month before planting your “cash” crop, terminate the cover crop. This can involve mowing, crimping, or clipping the cover crop. It can be left as a green mulch to suppress weeds or be incorporated into the soil for faster breakdown. On a farm that might involve tilling or spading in the cover crop. In a garden, simply throw some compost or “garden soil” on top. Avoiding tilling will help retain the soil structure you created over the winter and your crops will thank you because it will be easier for their roots to grow and for water to soak in.

Plus there is no need to overthink selecting a type of cover crop. Most farm and garden stores sell a mixture – usually about 1/3 clover or other nitrogen fixer (plants that can pull nitrogen out of the air and bring it down in the soil) and 2/3 other plant species that will create organic matter. For instance, an oat, ryegrass, and clover mixture is great for first time cover croppers. Just keep note on what does well, and what does not and adjust the following fall.

person in field of tall green plants bending over and touching a plant

If done right, cover crops can provide just about everything the cash crops and the soil need. Routinely growing cover crop stands that reach four feet tall, Brian Wood, co-owner and co-manager of Sauvie Island Growers, is able to get to enough nitrogen for most of their crops just through cover cropping. Covering 30 acres including 9 acres for vegetable production, Sauvie Island Growers sits in the middle of Sauvie Island and produces salad mixes, potatoes, squash, and other greens to local restaurants and grocery chains.

For Brian, cover cropping comes down to economics. The farm is typically able to produce enough plant available nitrogen to support 75-100% of the crop needs per year – depending on the crop. This means literally spending pennies to the dollar on what synthetic and organic fertilizers cost. For many crops, his only off-farm additions are micronutrients like boron and manganese as well as adjustments for pH.

Brian also includes fallow fields in his rotations –fields that are not producing cash crops – and keeps them in a year-round cover crop. Those fields are typically the most productive of all their farm fields in the year they are returned to producing cash crops. These fields also provide cover and feed for wildlife, and by letting his cover crops flower, Brian also helps the pollinators that will eventually pollinate his crops as well.

Just like any good relationship, giving back to the soil leads to a stronger union. Farms and gardens with healthy and “happy” soils tend to be more productive and require fewer inputs, or amendments. Cover cropping is an easy way to give a gift to something which provides so much.

For questions on cover cropping, soil health, and reciprocity with your soil – please contact Scott Gall, Rural Conservationist (scott@wmswcd.org).

Tending a relationship with the forest

Up in the Tualatin Mountains (also known as the West Hills) just north of Forest Park in Portland, Oregon, lies a patchwork of forest, pastures, fields, and homes where the Skyline Neighborhood community resides. West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District has worked with many residents of this community to improve forest and stream health. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with one dynamic duo in this area, Laura and Kevin Foster, who have been nurturing their young forest toward greater health for the past 32 years. The rich diversity of wildlife, plants, and micro-habitats present there today speaks to the dedication and heart that they bring to their connection with this land.

Kevin Foster purchased about 20 acres of land along McNamee Road in 1990 after the forest had been harvested four years prior. The area was poorly replanted, so much of the forest grew back in dense bigleaf maple clumps which re-sprouted from the cut stumps, while very few conifer trees were established. Much of Kevin’s early efforts were dedicated to establishing a diverse suite of native conifer trees to compliment the hardwoods. This included many valiant hours cutting back the exuberant maple sprouts in order to provide enough light for the young conifers to grow. He also built trails to allow better access to the forest growing on steep slopes.

Laura married Kevin and joined the Skyline community about eight years later. She wasn’t particularly inspired by this scrappy young forest at first, but the more she saw the land grow and change over time, the more drawn in she became by its beauty and wonder. Tending the forest began as a way to release energy after working on her writing all day. As Laura spent more time simply sitting in the forest off trail, she began to see and understand the poetic beauty in how nature is ‘messy’ yet still has a certain ‘rhyme or reason’ to it – how the death and decay feeds forest life.

Laura learned about and started removing invasive weeds such as English ivy from the forest floor, but was having a hard time with a few huge vines growing up some of the trees. A neighbor recommended getting in touch with West Multnomah SWCD for help, and so began our partnership with the Fosters in 2014 to help with this ivy removal. Our collective efforts then turned toward removing a large area of invasive English holly trees which had spread onto the property from a nearby abandoned holly farm. This was followed by planting a hedgerow of native shrubs in an opening in the forest to support pollinators. Laura eventually even rallied a few of her neighbors to join in a partnership to remove a large patch of invasive Armenian blackberry along the road, and replace this with a diverse suite of drought tolerant Valley Ponderosa pines, Oregon white oaks, and flowering shrubs.

Laura and Kevin take a slow and steady approach in how they care for their land. They take time to watch what’s happening in the forest and consider who else is living there, from the elk to the birds and frogs, to help guide how they interact with the land. Based on what they learn, they may choose different ways to give the forest nudges toward greater diversity, complexity, and resiliency. For example, Laura has been excited to work with storms to help accelerate the forest’s succession toward more complex habitat, while still keeping a balance with wildfire resiliency. She does this by walking the forest after storms to find newly fallen trees and branches. If they’re still partially hung up in the forest canopy, Laura and Kevin help bring them all the way down to the ground so they can decompose faster. Downed wood that falls within a few hundred feet of the house get chipped and mulched to reduce wildfire fuels, while wood that falls farther away is cut into sections small enough to make ground contact.

Greater threats from fire, heat waves, and drought hold a strong presence in Laura and Kevin’s awareness as they consider what they might have done differently if they could go back in time. “We would have planted more oak and pine.” Kevin says. Laura adds, “We knew about climate change, but we didn’t know it would have such immediate and significant impacts.” As the Fosters continue to learn from their ever-evolving forest, these kinds of understandings will help inform how they steward this land for future generations. With the forest now showing signs of health and vitality, from the myriad native wildflowers gracing the forest floor to the clear trickling stream, it’s exciting to see the momentum that has built from our partnership.

Notice of Election for District Directors – November 2022

On November 8, 2022, Multnomah County will hold a general election including several West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Director positions, each are 4 year terms: Zone 4, Zone 5, and At Large Position 2.

Zone boundaries, eligibility requirements, and copies of the required elections forms may be obtained by sending a request to the WMSWCD office located at 2701 NW Vaughn Street, Suite 450, Portland, Oregon 97210, by calling 503-238-4775, or by emailing WMSWCD at info@wmswcd.org. Learn more about our Board of Directors.

Each candidate must file a “Declaration of Candidacy” and a “Petition for Nomination Signature Sheet” with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Division. The filing deadline is 5:00 p.m. on August 30, 2022. Election forms and information can be found at: oregon.gov/ODA/programs/NaturalResources/SWCD/Pages/Elections.aspx

Day in the life of an intern

By Jordan Delawder

As a Field Conservation Intern with West Multnomah SWCD, I have ample opportunities to learn from the land itself, having direct encounters with the air, water, soil, and numerous beings that dwell therein. I spend most of my days outside, observing, asking questions, or using my hands. There’s never a dull moment, and every day is different. Although my internship is just beginning, I have already worked on a handful of engaging projects and gotten a taste of the various programs that the District offers.

3-image collage of snail on green leaf, white trillium flower, yellow skunk cabbage flower

Left to right: Oregon Forestsnail, western trillium, skunk cabbage. Photos by Jordan Delawder.

Since it’s spring, the majority of my time is devoted to EDRR (Early Detection and Rapid Response) invasive plant control. Shadowing my wonderful mentors, Ari and Michelle, I have learned how to identify high-priority invasives along with their native counterparts, and how to tell them apart. The number one culprit is Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), but at this point in the season, we are also keeping an eye out for lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), spurge laurel (Daphne laureola), and knotweed (Polygonum sp.). Before doing this work, I mostly saw a “green blur” of nondescript weeds, but now, I see discreet plants with names and ecological contexts. When we encounter invasive plants at a site, we determine the best method of removal. We then record the prevalence of these species on a geospatial database so that they can be better managed the following year.

person putting plant sample into a bag

Jordan takes a sample of a grass for identification.

Occasionally, I tag along with staff members to conservation sites within the district. Some of the sites have not previously had a management plan and require us to have conversations with the property manager or owner. We work with them to determine their goals and then craft a conservation plan that suits their needs. I enjoy chatting with these folks, because they often have long-term relationships to the places where they live. They share stories and casual forms of ecological knowledge that can only come from extended observation. Other sites are part of ongoing restoration projects, many of which took years of planning and patience. Seeing examples of successful restoration efforts firsthand has been inspiring and nudged me to learn more about the underlying theories and processes behind this work.

Luckily, the District supports interns with educational opportunities, including workshops related to our interests. Most recently, I attended a Wetland Delineation field practicum, which was not only a delightful day sloshing around in waders, but also a chance to gain hard skills that can serve me in my future career in conservation.

At the end of the day, I feel gratified knowing that I contributed to meaningful conservation efforts in the Portland community alongside an exceptionally kind and passionate team. It has been a pleasure interning with WMSWCD, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.

Climate lens for conservation

(Cover crops on a farm field help capture carbon and retain nutrients in the soil.)

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is currently developing a ‘climate lens’ for conservation with the help of our Climate Change Intern, Emma Russell. The Climate Change Strategic Direction included in the District’s 2021-2025 Long Range Business Plan is to ‘promote resilient environments and communities in the face of climate change.’ The completed lens will help us achieve this strategy by informing and guiding how we develop future conservation plans.

We are following three main steps to develop this ‘climate lens.’ The first step involves gathering information regarding climate change impacts and the vulnerability of different ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. This information prompts questions about how to address these impacts and what adaptations, mitigation strategies, and management practices we can include in conservation plans to reduce climate change impacts. Secondly, we are compiling online tools and resources into the lens to help conservation staff incorporate ‘best management practices’ – the most effective and practical ways to manage land – into conservation plans. The resources will also help our staff and land managers measure the effectiveness of these practices. Lastly, through the project, we aim to develop relationships with local partners and organizations participating in climate mitigation and adaptation and increase collaboration around these efforts.

Through the research portion of the project, we learned of several ecosystem changes to be expected due to climate change. In the Pacific Northwest, temperatures will rise, with drier summers and wetter winters with less snowpack. Drier summers will lead to longer and more intense wildfire seasons and more severe drought. These changes will increasingly stress ecosystems and change where plants currently grow, shifting their ranges. Seedlings and juvenile plants will be most impacted by these changes, making it more difficult for new plants to survive. Drier conditions will lead to drought stress, which makes ecosystems more prone to insect infestation, disease, and invasive species. Agricultural crops will also suffer in the summer, with less water availability and increased risk of erosion and low crop yields. Wetlands and riparian areas are also expected to experience shifts in their hydrological cycles and are at increased risk of drying out.

The effects of climate change are widespread, leading to an overall reduction in ecosystem resilience and increasing disturbances – short-term events that have a significant impact on an ecosystem, like wildfire or drought. Both mitigation and adaptation strategies can be integrated into conservation projects to reduce the impacts climate change will have on ecosystems.

One of the most significant ways to adjust land management practices to mitigate climate change is to change conventional agricultural practices. Keeping soil structure intact by reducing tillage increases the amount of carbon stored in soil and reduces the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere. Other ways to increase soil-stored carbon include adding biochar or manure to soils, using organic fertilizers, and incorporating cover cropping and crop rotations into planting strategies. It is also extremely important to protect and restore high carbon-storing ecosystems like wetlands, riparian areas, and old-growth forests.

Adapting to climate change in the context of land management can mean adjusting the way we do our work, what we prioritize, and what practices we recommend to land managers. To increase ecosystem resilience, this could mean reducing soil disturbance in agricultural areas and forests, as described above, as well as taking steps to increase biodiversity and habitat connectivity. Each of these practices increases ecosystem health and promotes evolutionary adaptation and migration – and therefore survival — of plants and animals. Wildlife will shift with plant communities, especially those important to food and shelter along with water sources, as droughts worsen.

Another focus of the project is to identify which communities within our district are most at risk from the effects of climate change. Extreme heat events are expected to occur more frequently with climate change. These will intensify the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in urban areas.

Within our district, downtown and the Northwest Industrial areas are most impacted by high temperatures and are identified as high risk communities. Efforts to reduce the UHI effect in these areas include protecting existing trees, removing pavement, and promoting light-colored roofing materials. Introducing emergency preparedness and neighborhood response plans can also increase resilience of frontline communities. Lastly, we aim to incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous communities into our conservation planning and the ‘climate lens’ in order to learn from and build on Indigenous communities’ long-term and extensive experience managing and living with the land.

With the reality of a changing climate, it is critically important that we use and incorporate a ‘climate lens’ perspective into local conservation practices. Our goal is to develop well-designed and carefully constructed conservation plans, programming, and partnerships that act as instruments in reducing climate change impacts in our local ecosystems.

Meet our 2022 interns!

Jordan DeLawder (pictured left) graduated from Tufts University with a BS in Environmental Engineering. Jordan currently works at a farm and a produce market, and they are interested in bridging the gap between Portland’s urban center and nearby rural areas. Jordan spent several years studying herbalism and is an avid local forager. They are interested in learning to be a better steward of the land to protect natural resources for future generations, and they hope to learn more specific technical skills with West Multnomah. Their reference says that they are a great leader and often teach others about plants!

Shahbaz Khan (pictured right) studied Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and gained experience with forestry work as a student research assistant and volunteer. He most recently worked for a local restoration crew, while also enrolled in PCC’s Geographic Information System (GIS) certification program and is currently taking classes on drone operation. Shahbaz is broadly interested in conservation sciences and is excited about learning more of the various GIS/Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) applications in environmental stewardship, extending outreach to the community, and mentorship opportunities with West Multnomah and its many partners to prepare for graduate school. Shahbaz’s references call him “cool, calm, and collected” and, most importantly, say that he makes work “fun.”

We’re excited to get to know these two interns, welcome them to our staff, and help them both gain the experience, resources, and connections they may need to succeed in their career goals.