The Prickly Thistle: A March 2018 WeedWise update

. Welcome to the March edition of the WeedWise newsletter, known as the Prickly Thistle! This is our opportunity to share with you all of the great things that the WeedWise program is doing!

March is a special time here at the WeedWise program. This is the month when winter officially gives way to spring, and when the invasive weeds really start to take off. Each year, as I flip the calendar page to March, the old adage “In like a lion, out like a lamb“, runs through my mind. March usually starts with the cold blustery rains of winter’s last gasp, ultimately giving way to the intermittent sun that promises spring. By March my winter fatigue is in full force and I gladly welcome the mild weather.

The mild weather of spring also signals a significant ramp up in weeds and the workload of WeedWise staff. WeedWise program staff are already busy coordinating contractors for spring treatments. This is the time of year we are watching the weather for suitable conditions to implement control measures and paying close attention to the growth and development of plants in the field.

This increase in activities also means that we are doing a lot of outreach to cooperating landowners impacted by invasive weeds. We are contacting new landowners via mailings as well as starting to notify existing landowners of pending spring weed treatments. If you are a current cooperator, thank you for your continued cooperation (and by the way, you can expect to hear from us in the coming month). Our success would not be possible without your participation!

If you have a received one of our mailings, please return the enclosed Permission to Access and Treat. If you have additional questions about our efforts, please feel free to contact us!

Thanks for your interest. Please enjoy the WeedWise program’s March Prickly Thistle!

Samuel Leininger

WeedWise Program Manager

Spring has Sprung!

Camassia Nature Preserve, (Photo: Samuel Leininger)

Rejoice Clackamas County! The winter months are now officially behind us and spring has finally sprung! With the promise of warmer weather and the occasional blue skies, it is common to start spending more time outdoors. The return of spring wildflowers provides a great opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of our natural areas. But before you start venturing out, it is important to remember that these sites can be extremely sensitive to invasive weeds. Many of our best wildflower sites are already under threat. So do your part to preserve these sites for generations to come. Before you head to your favorite location remember to Play Clean Go! Make sure you take time to ensure that your clothing, boots, gear, pets, and vehicles are free of weed seed.

If you are looking for some good wildflower hikes in our area be sure to check out the resources below.

One important reminder is that many of the wildflower trails in the Columbia Gorge are still closed following the Eagle Creek Fire. So before you head out, be sure to check for closures in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Our many partners in the Columbia Gorge thank you!

Enjoy the wonders of spring and help us to Spread the Word and not the Weeds!


March Weed of the Month: Canada Thistle

The WeedWise weed-of-the-month for March is Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). Canada thistle is one of our most problematic invasive weeds, and is an unwelcomed site any landowner, due to its painfully sharp prickles and aggressive growth. This noxious weed can quickly overrun an area and displace native plants, reduce agricultural yield, and harm grazing animals when it invades hay and pasture lands. Canada thistle is also difficult to control, and frequently requires the use of herbicides.

Although Canada thistle can have a significant impact on the landscape, not all thistles are bad! Clackamas County has several species of native thistles that are important to our native bees and other pollinators, and many are exceedingly rare in our area. So be sure to think twice before killing those thistles and make sure you aren’t harming one of our few remaining native thistles.

To learn more about Canada thistle be sure to check out the March Weed of the Month, Canada thistle.


The Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership Roadshow

This past month, WeedWise program manager, Sam Leininger was invited to the Washington State Noxious Weed Coordinators Association conference in beautiful Chelan Washington. He was asked to share information about the ongoing efforts of the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership. It was exciting to share our approach to prioritizing and coordinating activities within the Clackamas River Basin and hear about activities in Washinton.

It appears that the word is out about the good work underway by CRISP partners. We are proud of efforts of the partnership and are happy to see that it is serving as a model for others throughout the region. The event was very well-attended and there was a lot of interest by attendees in our partnership approach.

To learn more about CRISP, check out our recent press release, as well as our CRISP web page.


Is this Garden Flower Spreading In Your Yard?

The WeedWise program was recently contacted by a Clackamas County resident reporting a sudden expansion of hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) in their home landscape. They were amazed by the occurrence because after living on the property for 20 years, they had never seen this plant. The landowner was concerned about the potential spread into a managed pasture adjacent to the impacted area. Cyclamens are known to be poisonous and this is well documented online. The palatability of plants and whether or not they are avoided by grazing animals in pasture settings is less known.

Although there is no information related to the sudden expansion of this plant, it is speculated that the local expansion may be related to dispersal of seeds by ants in the area. Hardy cyclamen is interesting in that as seeds develop, the plant coils the fruits and seed down towards its base. The seeds have a fatty coating designed to attract insects which aid in its dispersal. As the abundance of these plants has slowly expanded, it is possible that the local ants have discovered this viable food source and are beginning to spread these seeds further.

Unfortunately, we still know very little about this phenomena, but want to learn more. You can help! If you see escaping populations of hardy cyclamen you are encouraged to report your observations to the Oregon iMapInvasives project on iNaturalist or to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline. Thanks for sharing!

To learn more about hardy cyclamen check out the Cyclamen Invasive Species Report from the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team.


Believe It or Not…Now is the Perfect Time to Control Your Tansy Ragwort

Spring is the perfect time to target your tansy ragwort to protect your fields and livestock. Early in the season, you can target tansy ragwort rosettes, as well as younger seedlings before they have a chance to establish. If you are dealing with just a few plants here or there, spend some time over the next month walking your fields. Pull any rosettes you find while the ground is still soft, and you are able to fully remove the taproot to prevent regrowth.

If you have been dealing with an ongoing infestation of tansy ragwort for some time and hand removal seems like an impossible task, start monitoring your fields for small seedlings and rosettes. Pay close attention to your fields and as soon as the ground starts to dry out, schedule a broadcast herbicide application. Or treat the infestation with a careful spot application to protect your hayfields and livestock from potential poisoning.

For more information check out our Tansy Ragwort Best Management Practices and our WeedWise Tansy Ragwort Brochure.


Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership

The WeedWise program is continuing activities associated with the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP). CRISP partners throughout the watershed are busy preparing for the field season. The WeedWise program has recently contacted new landowner with mailings to properties in targeted areas of the watershed. If you receive one of our mailings, please return the enclosed Permission to Access and Treat form to ensure that your property is surveyed and treated at no cost to you! If you have additional questions about our efforts, please feel free to contact us!

Work continues this month on updating the existing CRISP Management Plan. These updates are needed to reflect changes in our partner participation, incorporate new weed observations, and highlight projects implemented in the last year. WeedWise Specialist Jeff Lesh is incorporating new data from partnering organizations and is refining our prioritization model for the watershed. WeedWise Specialist, Lindsey Karr is spearheading preliminary updates to the plan and incorporating partner feedback and edits.

The WeedWise program has also been working with other CRISP partners from the Clackamas River Basin Council to develop an informational brochure about our efforts within the watershed to share with local landowners. This outreach effort will help to raise awareness about the partnership and demonstrate the groundswell of work underway in the watershed.

WeedWise program staff are also drafting a 2017 annual report for the CRISP. This report outlines the many activities undertaken by the CRISP partners over the previous year in the 2016 CRISP Annual Report. This is an amazing partnership and we are excited to share the great accomplishments realized over the last year.


Cooperative Weed Management Areas

The WeedWise program is very active with our local Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMA). We have two CWMAs active in Clackamas County, the 4-County CWMA that serves that Portland-Vancouver Metro region and the Columbia Gorge CWMA that serves the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding areas. The WeedWise program currently administers both of these CWMAs with WeedWise Specialist Sarah Hamilton serving as a shared part-time coordinator. As such, much of our work here at the WeedWise program influences and is influenced by our CWMAs. Below are highlights of activities currently underway by our local CWMAs.

4-County CWMA

The WeedWise program was pleased to host the most recent 4-County CWMA general meeting at the Abernethy Grange in Oregon City. This rotating event provided a great opportunity for local land managers working in Clackamas County to learn more about regional weed control efforts and connect with other experts in the area.

WeedWise specialist Jeff Lesh was on hand to provide an update on WeedWise program field activities over the last year. We were also fortunate to have Gene Pereli from OSU Cooperative Extension Service on hand to discuss weed control in pastures and forage systems. Gene recently announced his retirement, so this was a welcomed opportunity for Gene to share his 40 years of insight and wisdom with attendees. Also on the program was the WeedWise program manager, Sam Leininger who shared his perspective and insight into communicating with landowners. Last, but certainly not least, we welcomed Steve Kennet from Dig-In Community to discuss their efforts to engage young people in weed control, restoration, and conservation efforts.

For more photos from the event, be sure to check out the WeedWise photo album online.

The 4-County CWMA has also continued making improvements to the 4-County CWMA website. This has been a collaborative effort between the 4-County CWMA’s outreach committee and technical committee. The result will be better technical information that is clearer and more accessible. Some of the new content includes recent revisions to our Best Management Practice documents originally developed by the Columbia Gorge CWMA. So be sure to check out these exciting new resources.

The 4-County CWMA Mapping and Data Committee, has also been active preparing a review of local management lists of invasive weeds. This “list of lists” is a useful tool for local and regional weed managers to ensure that they are working on priority invasive weeds that not only affect their locality but other areas across the region. The list, compiled by WeedWise Specialist Jeff Lesh, is being used to help inform a review of the WeedWise program’s Clackamas County Weed List.

Columbia Gorge CWMA

The Columbia Gorge CWMA recently held its annual Invasive Species and Exotic Pest (ISEP) workshop at the Hegewald Center in Stevenson, WA. In the wake of the recent Eagle Creek Fire, this event focused on weed management and concerns in post-fire systems. This annual event coincided with National Invasive Species Awareness Week and was well attended by land managers from throughout the region.

For more photos from the event be sure to check out the WeedWise photo album online.

The Columbia Gorge CWMA continues work on another round of Best Management Practices (BMP) to target commonly occurring weeds in the Columbia Gorge and surrounding areas. This effort is similar to those undertaken last year that resulted in the development of fifteen new BMPs as well as an update to the Worst Weeds of the Gorge field guide. We encourage folks to download the guide or stop by the Clackamas SWCD office for a free copy! The BMPs will be used in conjunction with an all-new Stop The Invasion: Weed management 101 training scheduled for May 19th. So mark your calendars for another exciting opportunity!


More WeedWise Online and on Social Media

Did you know that the WeedWise program also hosts a website online that specializes in invasive weed related issues? Be sure to check out the website and read some of our recent articles over the last month. The WeedWise program is also active on social media presence, so be sure to follow us online!

Facaebook Twitter

 We hope you’ve enjoyed the March edition of the Prickly Thistle!

Thanks for your interest in the Clackamas SWCD WeedWise program

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Clackamas SWCD