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A group of 65 volunteers from Stemilt Growers, headquartered in Wenatchee, WA, assembled April 18 at the waterfront of the company's Olds Station facility to give Mother Nature a helping hand.

The volunteers removed noxious weeds, non-native blackberry bushes and other debris along the property, situated along the banks of the Columbia River. Once the cleanup was accomplished, the volunteers installed biodegradable erosion-control fabric and planted 160 native species along the shoreline and at the top of the bank.

The project was the brainchild of Stemilt President West Mathison, who got a bird's eye view of the declining condition of the property after he participated in the "Ridge to River" race in April 2008.

"This section of the riverfront had become quite an eyesore," Mr. Mathison told The Produce News. "We recognized the need to clean up the site, but also wanted to go one step further and establish a healthy riparian zone that would closely resemble the natural habitat."

Last September, Stemilt's Responsible Choice Committee discussed the project. The committee, started in 1989 by Stemilt's late founder Tom Mathison, is charged with the responsibility of advancing Stemilt's longstanding sustainability and social responsibility program.

The restoration project was supported by the Chelan County Natural Resources Department, the Chelan County Public Utilities Department, the Washington state Department of Transportation and Selland Construction.

Stemilt said it hopes to see the project expanded throughout the commercial waterfront in the future.