Steve Berliner: Council Co-Founder & Wildlife Photographer

Steve with an Ensatina salamander along Mt. Scott Creek.

What do you do when you’re looking for a home near a nice section of a waterway,; the kind with habitat for wildlife? If you’re Steve Berliner and his wife Karen Bjorkland, you find an undeveloped lot along Kellogg Creek in 1990, build your home on it and live there for 23 years.

“Living on Kellogg Creek opened my eyes to the wonders and importance of wildlife and clean water in our urban and suburban settings” says Steve. When Steve joined with upstream neighbors Dick and Sally Shook, who shared a passion for nature, Friends of Kellogg & Mt. Scott Creeks watershed was formed. Steve points out: “Dick and I accepted donations and the occasional grant, and put out quarterly newsletters emphasizing stewardship practices and the bounty of birds and wildlife in our Creeks.”

Steve and Dick served for over ten years on the Citizen Advisory Committee to Clackamas County’s surface water agency, now Clackamas Water Environment Services. “We helped improve development standards and stormwater handling near the Creeks, and related things like erosion control monitoring. We helped the County develop a stream-crossings sign for major road crossings of the Kellogg watershed.”

Next, both Steve and Dick accepted an invitation to plunge into hands-on stream and habitat restoration once a week, with a former Navy pilot Chris Runyard. Chris named the band of stream volunteers, “The Tsunami Crew.” Together with other recruits, over a period of years they’ve planted over 30,000 trees and shrubs within the 89-acre 3-Creeks Natural Area in the Mt. Scott watershed.

Looking to the future, Steve sees broader engagement as a big need as the area’s population grows. “We must keep working to provide these same experiences and opportunities for enjoyment of nature to the young, and to the under-served in our communities. This is one of the great functions of our Watershed Council. We strive to help everyone benefit from healthy relationships between people, native plants, streams, and wildlife.”

Steve, along with Dick and Chris are the remaining active Founding Board Members of the North Clackamas Watersheds Council. Steve’s founding role was to put his business experience to good use: he organized and filed the Council’s 501(c)3 Non-profit Application, kept all financial records, filed annual tax returns, and was the Council Treasurer for nine years.  He now chairs the Council’s Fundraising Committee.

Steve and Karen have moved from Kellogg Creek to Jennings Lodge: “While I love living along the Willamette River in Historic Jennings Lodge these days, nothing can replace the closeness to nature in my own backyard that we were graced with on Kellogg Creek for over 20 years. It’s why I did then, and still try to give back to the creeks in every ways I can.”