Archive | Wildlands

The Wildlands category is about working to improve and protect wildlands, including prairies and forests. One way we address wildland issues is by working with the Clackamas Stewardship Partners. Encouraging fire breaks and fire-resistant native plants around buildings also helps protect wildlands.

Camas Heralds the Arrival of Spring

Pollinator visiting camas (photo by Jason Faucera)

Pollinator visiting camas (photo by Jason Faucera)

The beautiful blue flower of the native camas plant heralds the arrival of spring in the Willamette Valley. Oregon is home to 65% of the named species of camas, their habitat ranging from sea level to an elevation of over 10,800 feet. Native Americans used camas as one of their major food sources. Bulbs were harvested, ground, and stored in cake-form or baked in earthen ovens for special gatherings. Valued also as an item of trade, camas is a culturally important plant.

Fields of camas can be found in wetlands, grasslands, and oak savannah from California to coastal British Columbia. Unfortunately much of this land is being converted to other land uses, so habitat for many of our native species, both plants and animals, is shrinking.

Through the efforts of a number of organizations including Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District, camas habitat is being protected and in some cases restored. Over the past few years the District has actively worked to restore over 40 acres of oak savannah and 20 acres of wet prairie land. These projects support many native species, from small pollinators such as bees and butterflies to large animals such as elk.

If the idea of restoring or preserving habitat on your property for our native species is appealing, contact the District at 503-210-6000. We will be happy to assist you!

(Camas facts from an entry by Susan Kephart in the Oregon Encyclopedia online.)

Mom’s Reminder for Oregon Weed Awareness Week

Clean your feet! How many times have mothers across the country hollered this when their kids tracked dirt in the house? Mom was setting a great example that we need to carry with us today when we trek in the great outdoors!

Off-road vehicles can carry weed seeds.

Weed seeds attach to vehicles! Studies done at Montana State University found that weed seeds attach to tires, bumpers, wheel wells and other nooks and crannies on vehicles. These vehicles carry invasive plant seeds and spread it to areas that may not already have a weed problem. Preventing the spread of weeds into non-infested areas is the least expensive and most efficient way to implement weed control.

The worst time of year for seed transport is fall, especially when the soil is wet. The wet soil attaches to vehicles, dries-up and the seed imbedded in the mud can remain on the vehicle until washed off by rain or wet roads.

What can you do? One way to help reduce the problem is regular vehicle washing. Always wash your vehicle after a trip to a field or forest road, especially if you have been off-road driving. Pay particular attention to tires and wheel wells.

Tires and off-road vehicles are not the only carriers of weed seeds. Hikers should take care to knock dirt and seeds off their clothes, hiking boots and equipment when they finish their hike. Watch for plants that hitchhike on the bumper or door of your car. They often drop off while you’re driving, spreading seeds all along roadways.

Boaters also need to be aware of their role in helping to prevent the spread of aquatic weeds. Clean off your boat motors, propellers, boat hulls and trailers when you pull out of a lake or river. Small pieces of some weeds can start another population of invasive weeds in yet another water body.

So, the next time you are out enjoying the great outdoors, remember what your Mother said, “Clean your feet!” And don’t forget to clean your vehicles, boats and trailers. Invasive weeds are everyone’s problem and everyone can, and should, help prevent their spread.

Oregon Weed Awareness Week is May 20-27, 2012.