If something can be learned from the history of Reed’s canyon, it’s that the land is constantly changing. The summer of 2016 was no different: a new trail has been built in the southeastern corner of the 40-acre urban wildlife refuge. The area was a wall of blackberries just last spring; since then it has been cleared of invasive species, and can now be explored along a meandering 670 feet of trail that connects to the path leading up toward 38th Street, and another entering the Canyon from behind the Art Building. The clearing and construction of the path took about a month of on and off work by the summer Canyon Crew, and was this summer’s big canyon project.
Zac Perry, Reed’s canyon restoration manager, commented on the path’s construction: “The new path started to formulate because [that corner of the canyon] was an unexplored area. There was an uptick of stolen goods and some camping going on in that back corner, and I figured the best way to discourage that undesired use was to incorporate those four acres of Canyon into the trail system.” With the addition of the new trail, there are 1.5 total miles of trail throughout the Canyon.
Summer Canyon Crew worker and student Indra Boving said, “[Building the path was] really exciting and rewarding. A lot of the work we do isn’t apparent, but this was very visible. The stairs we built will last fifty years! We left a lasting mark, and got to see visible progress every day.”
The course of the trail was discussed with faculty and staff and set by Zac Perry and the summer Crew workers. “We all walked through the area to find the best path that would cause the least disturbance to the rest of the Canyon. It’s important to me that students feel part of the team.”
Canyon Crew functions on a regular schedule and has 18 students currently employed for 6-8 hours a week. In the summer, Canyon Crew is a full time position, allowing for more elaborate and time-intensive projects like the new trail. Perry described the Crew as “the eyes and ears of the Canyon. They make sure everything is functioning properly.” Canyon Crew does everything from invasive plant removal, mulching, planting native species, removing fallen tree hazards and debris, and maintaining safe trails for the Reed and neighborhood community to use.
According to Boving, the student workers on Canyon Crew are down to earth folk, people who care about being outside, the environment, and learning about local Oregon flora and fauna. “My favorite thing about Canyon Crew is the people I work with. It’s a great way to clear your head, talk about non-academic things. We spend hours outside learning about plants, getting dirty and accomplishing something tactile and real.”
A common frustration encountered while working in the canyon is litter, especially cigarette butts, which forces Canyon Crew and other grounds workers to pick up trash daily. Boving also commented, “It’s a bit frustrating to meet Reedies who have never been in the Canyon. There’s a lot of hidden work that goes into it, things people don’t see or know about; we really pour our heart and soul into it.”
As you wander through the canyon’s expanded trail system, look on stairs and benches for the characteristic Canyon Crew brand: CC. The canyon is both for people and for local flora and fauna, and the trails meandering through it provide a way for community members to interact with its many biomes and the species that call it home.