St. Andrew Lutheran Church is located adjacent to Johnson Creek in the Tualatin River watershed. The church owns about six acres of wetland between Peppertree Wetlands Natural Area and Commonwealth Lake Park. All of these wetlands are highly valued as riparian habitat.
As part of the expansion of St. Andrew in 2010-2012, church volunteers planted about 2,300 native trees and shrubs on the slopes around the building. Eleven rain gardens and a storm water control structure were also installed to mitigate runoff into Johnson Creek. Members expressed a desire to further improve the St. Andrew forest and wetlands. Although we are most interested in our small part of the Johnson Creek drainage, we know it is important to address the whole watershed in our thinking.
This resulted in two Sunday morning gatherings in April 2013 under the umbrella of Earth Care Forum - Visioning Our Wetlands. Church members and interested neighbors were invited. After much discussion of what might be done, it was proposed that a group be formed to address the future of the watershed natural areas. Membership would be made up of individuals representing the multiple interests in the watershed. The role of St. Andrew was to facilitate the process. We envisioned:
- North Johnson Creek removed from its artificial channel and meandering more naturally across the wetland.
- The vegetation of the watershed returned to a state dominated by native trees, shrubs, and other plants.
- Wetlands and forest that offer habitat to native animals of all kinds including beavers, bees, and butterflies.
- Streams running with high quality water such that native aquatic plants and animals thrive
- Streams no longer suffering from flash floods and associated erosion.
- Environmental education opportunities for children and adults.
- Opportunities for leisure and spiritual activities.
- Improved trail access to these special areas of our watershed.
- A frequent set of activities to further improve the whole watershed.
We used the name Cornell Mountain Watershed because Johnson Creek is a name easily confused with other well-known creeks in the metro area and all of the headwaters of our Johnson Creek are on Cornell Mountain, the highest point in the Tualatin Mountains (West Hills).