The state of Oregon has a theft problem that has spread from federal lands to private property and on Thursday, April 26, students from Dorena School joined the Army Corps of Engineers' attempt to replace the stolen goods.
"The story is about the fact that we've had Oregon Grape getting illegally harvested from our lands from city to state to county and other federal lands," said Christie Jonhson, a park ranger and outreach specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The plant, which is Oregon's state flower and can grow anywhere from a three to six- foot mound, can be harvested legally with a permit but according to Johnson, the plant has been routinely stolen from private and state lands across the state.
I"It's hard to say (if they re- placed the same number of plants that were stolen)," Johnson said, noting that an area hit by illegal harvesters will typically be stomped down. "These aren't mature plants we're re- placing them with, either," she said.
Oregon Grape can be used as an herbal remedy so leaves from the plant are often left behind, indicating the plants were taken.
Approximately 15 students joined the effort.
"It only took them an hour so then we had them cutting out invasive species," Johnson said. "So they were re-planting native species and helping to get rid of invasive plants the same day."