Shutdown stymies Steigerwald planting

54 volunteers signed up for wildlife refuge event on MLK Jr. Day

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A tree planting event, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 21, at the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, near Washougal, was cancelled because of the federal government shutdown. Additional tree planting opportunities for volunteers are scheduled for Feb. 16 and March 16.

Local volunteers are feeling the sting of the partial federal government shutdown.

More than 50 community members signed up to participate in a tree planting at Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Washougal — only to discover the event was canceled due to the shutdown, which is now entering its second month.

Samantha Dumont, the volunteer coordinator with the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, said the tree planting — planned for Monday, Jan. 21, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday — was cancelled, but other opportunities are scheduled for Saturday, Feb.16, and Saturday, March 16.

Dumont contacted the 54 people who had planned to volunteer at Steigerwald, to inform them of the cancellation.

Some of the volunteers decided they would plant trees at Keller Woodlands, in Portland, instead.

The trees intended for Steigerwald — including black cottonwood, black hawthorn, dogwood and Oregon ash — will be stored for a future planting event. The volunteer tree plantings benefit the habitat along Gibbons Creek and the wildlife that call the refuge home.

“They all do a really good job of spreading and outcompeting the invasive reed canary grass,” Dumont said of the native trees and shrubs volunteers help plant at the local wildlife refuge.

Meanwhile, the Steigerwald refuge itself is open for people who want to visit it.

For information about future tree planting opportunities at the refuge, call Dumont at 503-226-1565, ext. 245; email; or visit