So what exactly do trees have to do with the health of the river? A lot in fact, said Mike Skuja, Director of Tualatin Riverkeepers. “Trees help stabilize the soil, filter toxins out before they hit the river, reduce erosive storm water run-off, and provide a safe haven for numerous animals from beavers to herons who call the forest near our river home.”.
This is why Tualatin Riverkeepers, a local environmental non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring the Tualatin River (www.tualatinriverkeepers.org), is challenging the business community to step up its game and grow its green thumb in 2015. Riverkeepers is initiating what it is calling its ‘Silicon Forest Challenge’.
The goal is to engage local businesses in community stewardship through restoration activities like planting native plants and clearing out invasive species in key riverside forests throughout the Tualatin Basin. Riverkeepers had much success with this type of work in 2014, engaging more than 550 members of the business community in restoration related activities.
“This past year Riverkeepers worked with businesses to clear 5.5 acres of invasive English Ivy from our local forests, all while enhancing 1 mile of forest trail for tourism and cleaning up 6 miles of garbage from our waterways”, said Mike Skuja, Executive Director of the Tualatin Riverkeepers. Spurred on by its success working with businesses like Intel and Waggener Edstrom, Riverkeepers is looking to target more businesses in 2015 throughout Oregon’s famed ‘Silicon Forest’. Skuja feels it can tap into business’s desire to relate to the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor culture, which has a strong sense value and connection to stewardship of nature. This will motivate change and help Silicon Forest area companies to plant a real forest.
Our kick-off of the Silicon Forest Challenge will be Friday, April 10 at Cook Park in Tigard.  “Intel and Whole Foods have already signed up to plant trees that day and we hope other companies of this region join us.” Businesses interested can contact Tualatin Riverkeepers at mike@tualatinriverkeepers.org or 503-218-2580.  Tualatin Riverkeepers will schedule other opportunities for businesses to participate.

All participating businesses will be recognized and the winner of the Grand Fir Prize will be announced in the spring of 2016.  To level the playing field between the small and big corporations, competition will be evaluated based on number of work days a business attends and overall percentage of employee workforce engaged.  Riverkeepers is committed to extensive publicity for the winning business and participating companies to showcase their commitment to the local environment.