It’s springtime at the Beavercreek Farm. Plants and creatures are stirring again after a long winter rest.
Conservation Resource Center status
We previously reported that a conditional use permit has been approved by Clackamas County for the new office/meeting/education facility we call the Conservation Resource Center, or CRC.
Viewed from Beavercreek Road, the size of the building will not be immediately apparent. Earth berms along with landscaping may be used to reduce the visual impact of such a large facility. Viewed from Ferguson Road, much of the building will be hidden behind the barn and landscaping.
On April 27, 2018, bids for Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) services are due to the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. Although hiring a CM/GC before the final design is completed will cost more money at the front end of the project, we anticipate receiving multiple benefits from this approach. We expect to see savings by involving the CM/GC in the final design process. We also expect to see fewer change orders because the CM/GC will be a partner in the development and execution of the final design.
Around the farm
Ponds are full
The two ponds are both full, which is the usual state of affairs in the spring. The lower pond captures streamflow from upslope, and when that stream dries up in mid-summer, the lower pond also goes dry. This past weekend, we opened the doors on the south wall of the barn to allow swallows better access to nesting sites.
The upper pond is fed by underground springs and remains nearly full year round.
A few years ago, a small patch of native willows was planted in an open area on the shore of the upper pond. This willow patch is growing nicely. In the future, the District may plant more native willows that can be used as cutting blocks for stream restoration projects throughout Clackamas County.
It won’t be long before we see rough-skinned newts in the lower pond again.
Grass is growing and swallows are back
Grass in the fields is quickly reaching for the sun. Although we would like to give the fields a rest this year, construction activity in 2018 creates some potential risk. We plan to harvest hay again this year to help reduce the risk of a grass fire.
We have multiple nest boxes in place at the farm. If you drive along Beavercreek Road you may be going past so swiftly that you miss them. The boxes on fence posts along Ferguson Road are much easier to see.
Three species of swallow use the farm, helping to control mosquitoes and other insects every year.
A few years ago we mounted a kestrel nesting box on a pole at the corral. On Sunday we noticed a bird going in and out of the box but we were too far away to identify the bird. Our fingers are crossed that kestrels have finally found the box.
Barney the Barn Owl continues to use the barn as a roost. He tolerated the major repairs to the barn in 2017 very well and we are happy he continues to help us control rodents at the farm.