Project Highlight: Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership

The Clackamas River Basin is not without its fair share of invasive weeds.  Thankfully, we have a hard working group of skilled land managers actively managing these invasive weeds.  Formed in late 2015, the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) was established to improve the coordination of weed management in the Clackamas Basin. This partnership was initiated by the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District, the Clackamas River Basin Council, and Metro, but now includes over a dozen partners!

The Plan

One of the first goals  of the CRISP was to take stock of activities underway and to establish a comprehensive management plan within the basin.  Partner organizations throughout the basin came together to review existing efforts, establish long term goals, assess available resources, and review management strategies.  CRISP partners shared their current restoration activities and contributed weed observations.  The WeedWise program adapted a prioritization tool known as Weed Heuristics: Invasive Population Prioritization for Eradication Tool (WHIPPET) to prioritize known weed infestations from a priority list of invasive weeds based on their potential impact, rate of spread, and feasibility of control.  This effort ultimately resulted in what became the Clackamas River Invasive Species Management Plan, which helps to prioritize how and where partners can work together to improve our effectiveness and efficiency.

Invasive weeds don’t pay attention to property lines or jurisdictional boundaries.  As such, great improvements to our management can be achieved simply by working more efficiently across boundaries.  For example, Clackamas County owns public land on which they often control weeds, but this land may be adjacent to private land where the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District could work with the private landowner to control the very same plants. In this way, CRISP gives us a venue to communicate the information and activities and take meaningful actions to treat invasive weeds across the entire basin.

Hitting the Ground Running

CRISP partners deployed professional weed control contractors across much of our targeted implementation areas in 2016. In total CRISP partners are managing 1,553 parcels for priority invasive weeds within the Clackamas River Basin.

With the CRISP management plan completed, work began on securing the resources to fully implement the CRISP plan recommendations.  In 2016, the WeedWise program, in cooperation with the Clackamas River Basin Council and Metro, was awarded $431,250 from the Portland General Electric administered Clackamas Fund to support 5 years of restoration efforts in the Clackamas River Basin.  Funds were received in August of 2016, and were immediately put to use within the Basin.  CRISP partners established three targeted implementation areas to focus efforts in the basin including a portion of Sieben Creek, riparian properties from Milo McIver State Park to Barton Park, and riparian properties from Barton Park to Carver.

Private landowner outreach was a major effort with WeedWise mailings going out to 493 parcels.  This effort resulted in enrollment of 108 new parcels, adding to the existing 1,445 properties already being managed by CRISP partners.  The WeedWise program alone surveyed 59 properties for invasive weeds and carried out 70 treatments on behalf of CRISP in the first fall treatment season.

The largest goatsrue patch in Oregon was discovered by CRISP contractors. More than 14 gross acres were discovered at this site near Carver.

Our surveys and treatments identified 1,617 new weed observations including discoveries of several class A noxious weeds including: giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), oblong spurge (Euphorbia oblongata) and the largest infestation of goatsrue (Galega officinalis) ever discovered in Oregon, totaling more than 14 gross acres in size.

Gaining Momentum

CRISP partners have been working to formalize our partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding, and also to establish a pool of contractors to assist partners in securing qualified weed control and restoration contractors.  The CRISP partnership recently interviewed and hired a full time WeedWise Specialist to assist with implementation of the Clackamas River Invasive Species Management Plan and coordinate contracted crews on behalf of the partnership.

CRISP partners throughout the watershed are busy in current restoration efforts and planning for the season ahead.  In particular, the WeedWise program is working hard to reach out to landowners in our targeted implementation areas to survey and treat invasive weeds.  The WeedWise program is working to coordinate activities on these properties in conjunction with activities of other CRISP partners in the lower portion of the watershed.  In the upper watershed, efforts are underway to survey trailheads, campgrounds, decommissioned roads, and other disturbed areas, where invasive weeds are likely to gain a foothold.

The CRISP hosted the 4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area’s 6th Annual Field Day, highlighting weed control and restoration sites along the Clackamas River.

So if you live, work, or play in the Clackamas River Basin be sure to keep an eye out for the great changes underway in the years ahead.

Many Thanks to the CRISP partners for their hard work:

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WeedWise Program