DALLAS -- Take an old ball field, add some fill dirt, sweat equity and native Oregon plants. What do you get? A miniature State of Oregon, from the eastern desert to the Cascades and the river valleys to the Coast.

The Delbert Hunter Arboretum is adding about four acres to its current area in Dallas City Park. Volunteers hope to continue working on the new section this spring as part of a project to restore about 400 feet of stream bank along Rickreall Creek.

The Rickreall Watershed Council has applied for a $54,000 grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. If the grant is received, the arboretum volunteers will contribute $19,000 of volunteer labor and $3,500 cash to the effort. Cooperation has been pledged from Dalton Rock and Willamette Industries and the City of Dallas.

Dalton will donate $950, half the cost of the rock needed to restore the area and Willamette will donate logs worth $2,000.

"This will become a demonstration project to show people an effective way to deal with this kind of stream bank erosion," said Jackie Hastings, Rickreall Watershed Council coordinator.

The total cost of the bank restoration is estimated at $93,000.

For the arboretum, the bank restoration project will involve the planting of about 12 different kinds of willows which are native to the state.

"This will extend the range of plants in the arboretum," said Mel Chase, a former forester and head of the planning committee which includes Delbert Hunter, Wilma Rogers and Leo Morris.

The expansion plan was discussed and approved by the members of the arboretum and then received approval of the City's Parks and Recreation Commission and the city council.

"We're preparing a proposal for the National Guard to come out and smooth the fill material we have now and do some excavation for wetlands we hope to construct in the former infield portion of the ball field."

The expansion plans call for mounds to be constructed on the field, with each one representing a different area of the state in terms of plant species.

Last fall the volunteers planted a section which represents the east slope of the Coast range. Sitka Spruce, Coastal Redwoods, Port Orford Cedar are some of the trees planted in the new section.

The next step, after the bank restoration, will depend on how much fill the arboretum gets. Chase said the members will assess the project this summer.

"We hope, by providing a larger area and more diversity of plants that we will be able to add more members."

Volunteers meet every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the arboretum to work on the trails, pull weeds, mulch and prune. Experience is not needed and everyone is welcome.

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