Our guest student interns have been really working hard in the office, and for their efforts, I know many of us are grateful, so it is a small token of our appreciation that we release them from their labors and allow them to see the other side of the City That Works. Melaniya Buzhduga has been working with Donah Baribeau in the Environmental Soils section of Site Development for two weeks. She is a student at Clackamas High School, where she has completed courses in Architecture and Interior Design, and is looking forward to studying Environmental Science in the fall when school reopens. She plans to attend Portland State University after high school graduation and is enthusiastic about urban studies and architecture. She has expressed interest in understanding what part stormwater runoff plays in the environment, and how we deal with it.
In order to prepare her for the journey out into the field and away from the files, we spent a couple hours the previous week describing construction plans and introducing her to the various tools we in Site Development use to describe sites and evaluate them. Some of these tools included GIS Maps, geological and soils maps, clinometers (for evaluating slopes), and historical photos and records. Melaniya was unfamiliar with contour lines and trigonometry, but had plenty of nerdy instruction and great views of the eastern buttes and volcanoes here on the 5th floor of the 1900 Building.
Today, Melaniya accompanied me on a full morning of site visits around the greater Portland area. Our first stop was in NE Portland to inspect two drywells at a new commercial site. She recalled the code from our pre-field meeting and confirmed that the drywells and rain drain piping were placed appropriately and were deep enough (see her photo), so we were on our way in good time to the next stop in Linnton. On the developed portions of the Tualatin Mountains overlooking the industrial corridor near the St. John's Bridge, Melaniya had the opportunity to learn about the different geological environments and their effects on local development codes. We used a pocket clinometer to evaluate some pretty steep slopes (Melaniya shot 25 percent as the flattest part of the property--wow!) and walked the site to find alternatives for stormwater disposal. Melaniya was quite pleased we did not encounter any snakes in the dense understory of english ivy and cleared maple and alder!
Our final stop was in the Gabriel Park area of SW Portland to look at two sites prior to a Fast Track plan review in the afternoon. We were able to walk the site and note the variations in plants growing in the area, particularly the change from disturbed areas to the natives growing in the local environmental zone, the floodplain and temporal wetland adjacent to the creek. Melaniya learned that sometimes the most difficult part of performing a site visit is getting to the site, in this case locating the access road to the proposed development. Even with our state-of-the-art mapping tools, the developing landscape sometimes escapes us. I hope that the city continues to find the time to invest education and skill in its youth to promote Portland as a treasure in the landscape years to come. Thanks to all of our student interns!
BDS Engineering Technician