The Prickly Thistle: A May 2018 WeedWise update

Welcome to the May edition of the WeedWise newsletter, known as the Prickly Thistle! This is our opportunity to share with you all of the great activities underway here at the WeedWise program!

Racing against the speed of sunlight

The month of May is easily one of our busiest months of the year. Our spring priority invasives weeds have been taking full advantage of the warmer sunny weather. They are rapidly developing seeds and will start dispersing over the next month, so the month of May can be best described as a final sprint against our spring flowering priority weeds. To keep up, WeedWise program staff are busy coordinating our contract crews in an effort to treat known infestations.

Our most notable spring priority invasive weed is garlic mustard. This plant greatly tests our resolve, as we struggle to treat as much of the infestation as we can. Garlic mustard is heavily impacting our urban landscapes and long stretches of land along on the Willamette, Tualatin, and Clackamas Rivers. Fortunately, it is still in limited abundance in other areas of the county. We are working hard to keep this invasive species in check.

The greatest concern with garlic mustard is its potential spread into our forested lands, where it replaces understory plants, and can slow or inhibit regeneration of our native trees and shrubs. In response to the ongoing threat of garlic mustard, we are working hard to keep populations in check and protect our forests and natural areas.

So as the sunlight continues to fuel the growth of weeds, we run the race against the “speed of sunlight” to protect Clackamas County from our most damaging invasive weeds!

If you are battling weeds on your property, please feel free to contact us with your questions. We are here to help!

Please enjoy the WeedWise program’s May edition of the Prickly Thistle!

Samuel Leininger

WeedWise Program Manager

Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week!

Did you know that invasive weeds cost Oregonian’s $83.5 million in lost personal income each year? If left unchecked, these weeds have the potential to cost Oregonians $1.8 billion each year!

It is information like this that helps us to better understand the impact that invasive weeds have on the livability of our communities. It also helps us to make more meaningful decisions about managing our invasive weeds. To help raise awareness about this issue, May 13-19 was proclaimed Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week. This annual event, sponsored by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s, Noxious Weed Program, focuses on raising awareness about our most damaging invasive weeds.

In recognition of Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week, we encourage everyone to check out the ODA Noxious Weed Program Facebook page for great articles about the most damaging species and to see some of the work underway to protect our great state from the ongoing threat. Also be sure to check out the WeedWise Facebook Page for local events underway here in Clackamas County.

For great ideas about how you can join the effort to protect Oregon from invasive weeds, check out our recent article of 10 Ways to Celebrate Oregon Invasive Weed Awareness Week!

A Fond Farewell to WeedWise Specialist, Sarah Hamilton!

It isn’t often that we lose a WeedWise team member, but this month we bid a fond farewell to WeedWise Specialist and CWMA Coordinator, Sarah Hamilton.

Sarah joined the WeedWise program in 2014 and has split her time working on invasive species management in the Sandy River watershed, and in coordinating both the 4-County and the Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMA).

After her more than three years with the WeedWise program, Sarah has helped ensure the success of our weed control efforts in the Sandy River Basin. In particular, our ongoing Weed Smackdown project on the Salmon and Sandy Rivers, carried out in conjunction with the Sandy River Watershed Council, has greatly benefitted from Sarah’s efforts.

Sarah is leaving us for our partners at Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District. This position is much closer to the childhood home that she recently purchased near Salem. We know her commute will be a lot shorter, giving her more time to work in the small native plant nursery she recently started. We are happy for Sarah and for our Marion County partners and are pleased to know that we will still get to see her from time to time.

Learn more about Sarah and the energy she brought to our program on her Staff Spotlight.

We wish Sarah all the best in her new position and in all her new adventures!

May Weed of the Month: Orange hawkweed

The WeedWise weed-of-the-month for May is orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum). Orange hawkweed is a class A noxious weed in the state of Oregon and is one of our highest priority weeds for control and eradication in Clackamas County. The WeedWise program has been working for a number of years on small infestations of orange hawkweed throughout the county. In addition, we have been working closely with our partner from the Oregon Department of Agriculture‘s (ODA) Noxious Weed Program, the Mt. Hood National Forest, and Portland Water Bureau to control and contain a large infestation at Lolo Pass area near the Pacific Crest Trail.

Orange hawkweed is especially problematic because it displaces the native plants that our local wildlife relies upon for food and shelter. Areas especially sensitive to invasion are grasslands and meadows, where it can become the dominant species. Orange hawkweed naturally spreads by both seeds and by rhizomes, allowing it to quickly colonize. It is also spread in contaminated soil and by equipment, as well as through informal plant trade. Historically it was grown on a limited basis as an ornamental until folks quickly recognized how invasive this plant can become.

You can help by learning to identify this priority invasive weed. Look for the tell-tale orange dandelion-like flower, growing in clusters on hairy stems. If you see this weed be sure to contact us or report your sighting to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.

Learn more about orange hawkweed in our recent May Weed-of-Month post and on the ODA Noxious Weed Program’s Orange Hawkweed Weed Profile.

Mt Hood National Forest Community Science Training

The WeedWise program recently partnered with the Mt Hood National Forest, the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plants Council, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Program to host a community science weed identification training at the Forest Service office in Sandy. This event was well-attended by a dedicated group of volunteers from across the region. At the training, attendees learned to identify and to report invasive weeds threatening the Mt Hood National Forest and surrounding region.

The WeedWise program was on hand with a number of live plants and pressed specimens to help familiarize attendees with these invasive plants. Attendees also received a field identification guide and survey sheets to help with identification and reporting.

We thank Andrew Frasier from the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plants Council for delivering a great presentation. Most of all we thank all of the volunteers that came out for the training. We look forward to seeing the reports, that will help protect the Mt Hood National Forest.

Photos from the event:

Surveys in Prairie and Oak Sites

The WeedWise program has recently been assisting our Conservation Planning department with invasive weed and rare plant surveys at some of our Oregon white oak and remnant Willamette Valley prairie sites. We are pleased to be assisting in the effort to conserve and restore these rare habitats.

Once common throughout the Willamette Valley, Oak woodlands and prairies are in steady decline and have been identified as a priority habitat in Oregon’s Conservation Strategy. Willamette Valley prairies, in particular, have become exceedingly rare and now cover less than 1% of historic abundance. As such, many of the plants historically found in these systems are rare, threatened, or endangered.

District efforts to restore these habitats are being implemented as part of the Conservation District’s oak program. These remnant oak and prairie sites are under threat from invasive weeds and encroachment from woody plants, so the WeedWise program is pleased to lend their support.

Photos from the Field

Backyard Habitat Certification Program comes to Oregon City!

Last month, we reported the Backyard Habitat Certification Program‘s continued expansion into the remaining urban areas of the Portland-Metropolitan region of Clackamas County. This includes Damascus, Gladstone, Happy Valley, Oregon City, Rivergrove, and Wilsonville. The current expansion builds upon an existing program in Lake Oswego, and a 2017 expansion to the cities of West Linn, Milwaukie, and Oak Grove.

The WeedWise program has been very supportive of the Backyard Habitat Certification Program and has helped to sponsor the program in Clackamas County. This month we are proud to report not only the first official certification in Oregon City but that the location was the home of WeedWise Program Manager, Sam Leininger!

Sam and his wife Amy received a gold certification for their backyard with more than 50% of their property covered in native plants. Sam was also pleased to say that no invasive weeds were observed on the property. Sam and Amy have been working to nativescape their yard since moving into their home in 2009. Their self-described “mullet-yard” features common ornamental plantings in the front yard, but shifts to predominantly native plants, and fruit and vegetable gardens in the back.

“I’ve enjoyed the process of bringing a more natural aesthetic to our home while also reducing our yard maintenance”, says Sam. “My favorite visitor is a varied thrush that frequents our yard in spring”.

The Backyard Habitat Certification program is administered by Columbia Land Trust and Audubon Society of Portland and is a great new resource for Clackamas County residents. The program helps landowners target their invasive weeds, and develop their yards into urban sanctuaries for wildlife. So join in the fun and sign up today!

Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership

The WeedWise program has been very busy controlling priority invasive weeds in association with the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP). This spring, a significant amount of our work has been dedicated to controlling garlic mustard on properties throughout the Clackamas Basin. We have recently added a number of new properties and are working to control the garlic mustard before it can set seed.

We have also been targeting priority weed surveys on several islands in the Clackamas River. These sites pose a logistic challenge, but we are working with contractors to ensure that the islands are surveyed and treated for invasive weeds. Several large, previously unmapped populations have been identified and treated.

WeedWise staff have also been treating a number of other priority invasive weeds including sulfur cinquefoil, oblong spurge, meadow hawkweed. These weeds are uncommon in our area, and we are working to keep them that way.

In the upper portions of the Clackamas River Basin, we have been treating several infestations of false brome and shiny geranium. Although common in other areas of Clackamas County, these weeds are currently rare in the upper watershed and we are working hard to prevent further spread.

The WeedWise program is continuing efforts to contact landowners. If you have received 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 any questions about the program, please feel free to contact us!

Photos from the Field:


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 the recent departure of Sarah Hamilton, as CWMA Coordinator, the WeedWise program has been working with the CWMAs to evaluate the structure and function of the coordinator position. Although we are taking a moment evaluate the position, everyone is in agreement that a stable coordinator has greatly strengthened the CWMAs and enhanced weed control efforts across the region. As such, the CWMAs are currently assessing whether additional resources may be available to fund the coordinator position at a higher rate to secure more time for these important partnerships. The WeedWise program and CWMA leadership will be making decisions about the structure of the position in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, WeedWise program manager, Sam Leininger has been helping to facilitate communications between CWMA partners. Below are highlights of activities currently underway.

4-County CWMA

The 4-County CWMA continues planning for the upcoming Field Day. This annual event rotates each year to one of the four counties in the Portland-Vancouver Metro region. Clark County Vegetation Management will be hosting the event this year. Featured topics will include managing vegetation for sandhill crane habitat, checking out the Plas Newydd Farm, and viewing new infestations of Cypress spurge. This annual event is a great opportunity to see some of the weed control and restoration activities underway in our area and connect with folks from throughout the region. Reserve your FREE spot now!

Columbia Gorge CWMA

The Columbia Gorge CWMA has been very busy hosting the most recent Stop The Invasion: Weed management 101 training. This event highlighted the development of ten new Best Management Practices (BMP) to target commonly occurring weeds in the Columbia Gorge and surrounding areas. Many thanks to all of the event organizers and hosts. For photos of the event be sure to check out the Skamania County Noxious Weed Program Facebook page.

The Columbia Gorge CWMA is also busy planning their upcoming field day at Trout Lake. This field day will focus on vegetation management to support the recovery of Oregon spotted frogs. So, mark your calendars and register today 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, so be sure to follow us online!

Facaebook Twitter

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

Thanks for your interest in the Clackamas SWCD WeedWise program

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Clackamas SWCD