Working Together to Control Weeds
The Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) was formed to improve the management of invasive species within the Clackamas River watershed in northwestern Oregon. This partnership was initiated through the cooperative efforts of the Clackamas River Basin Council (CRBC) and the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD), with additional funding and support from Metro regional government.
Before the group’s formation, the Clackamas River Basin Council and the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District both had strong landowner assistance programs for control of priority invasive weeds and to restore riparian habitat in targeted areas of the watershed. Development of the CRISP has provided an opportunity to coordinate the efforts of these two organizations, as well as other partners across the Clackamas River watershed.
Developing a Plan
The first goal of the partnership was to identify current invasive species control efforts underway within the watershed. Tools such as online surveys and stakeholder meetings provided this information. Second, a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of federal, state, regional, and local land managers convened to discuss existing efforts, long-term goals and outcomes, available resources, and management strategies. Information provided by the TAG served as the foundation for the development of the Clackamas River Invasive Species Management Plan, a comprehensive approach for managing invasive species within the watershed. The TAG meetings revealed strong support for invasive species planning among participants. During these meetings, TAG members broadly agreed to participate in ongoing planning and implementation efforts. The partnership grew to include the 22 TAG members from 13 organizations.
In addition to the information provided by the TAG, a prioritization model known as the Weed Heuristics: Invasive Population Prioritization for Eradication Tool (WHIPPET), developed in California, was adapted for use within the Clackamas River watershed. The WHIPPET model helped prioritize infestations of 19 priority invasive species based on their potential impact, potential spread, and feasibility of control. Criteria related to specific populations, the ecology of the invasive species, and the quality of the area under threat, were all included in the WHIPPET model analysis.
Due to the size and complexity of the watershed, as well as resource scarcity, CRISP partners also sought to prioritize specific geographic areas for action. They ranked sub-watersheds based on:
- data from the Intertwine Alliance’s Regional Conservation Strategy;
- existing partner participation; and
- rare, threatened, and endangered species.
The findings of this assessment were considered alongside additional factors including partner investments and engagement and resulted in the establishment of four priority areas within the Clackamas River watershed.
Partners created action plans for each of the four priority areas based on land use, the likelihood of invasive species introduction, survey and control needs, and restoration opportunities. These priority area action plans collectively form the Clackamas River Invasive Species Management Plan, which was completed in 2015. This plan outlines a clear and objective approach to managing invasive species in the Clackamas River watershed.
In 2016, the CRISP grew from its origin as an advisory group supporting the CRISP Management Plan development effort to a partnership. This transformation required the development of basic infrastructure to support the goals and activities of the partnership. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines the partnership’s goals and structure and has now been signed by all partners. See the full CRISP MOU here. Since then, the partnership has grown to include 14 organizations.
To further enhance implementation efforts in the basin, the Clackamas SWCD also hired a specialist in December of 2016 to assist with the implementation of CRISP-related activities. The CRISP specialist supports activities between partners and manages many of the projects proposed by partners to cover gaps in management.
Funding the Plan
In order to implement the management plan, the CRISP sought funding to treat invasive weeds within the Clackamas River Basin. In 2016, the CRISP secured $431,250 in grant funding through Portland General Electric’s Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project Mitigation and Enhancement Fund to support implementation over the next five years. In 2020, CRISP received a second round of this funding for $258,192.
To support this grant, several CRISP partners also committed resources to the project. From 2016, through 2019, commitments have included $266,901 in cash and in-kind services from the Clackamas SWCD, $329,182 of in-kind services from Clackamas River Basin Council, and $445,084 in cash and in-kind services from Metro. CRISP partners have also applied for and received retained receipts funding from the Mt Hood National Forest for $51,500 in 2019, and $61,875 in 2020. Additionally, the BLM has awarded a partner agreement to Clackamas SWCD, thus contributing a total of $28,500 since 2016, and this is renewable each year pending available funding. This BLM agreement is part of a larger funding pool that also includes weed control efforts in Sandy River Basin as well as administration of the Columbia Gorge CWMA and 4-County CWMAs. All of these funds allow the CRISP to do an immense amount of weed control in the Clackamas Basin.
Where are we now?
In 2017, CRISP partners developed a process for proposing and approving projects. Since then, partners have used this process to propose, discuss, prioritize, and carry out 49 projects totaling $359,258 in contractor services. For 2020, eight more projects have been proposed, with more to come later in the year.
Several of these projects have involved invasive knotweed control. The Clackamas River Basin Council has been treating knotweed on Deep Creek since 2017. Because of CRISP support, they have been able to conduct more outreach and treatments each year, making a big difference in streamside habitat on Deep Creek. The Clackamas SWCD has also been treating knotweed on the Clackamas River and its tributaries upstream from Richardson Creek. Another project has focused largely on garlic mustard, a highly invasive weed. In 2019, the Clackamas SWCD was able to treat garlic mustard on 74 different properties. More details on these projects can be found on the Focus Area Weed Control Project Page.
Another large project has focused on the upper Clackamas watershed. The upper watershed contains 74% of the Clackamas watershed and is relatively pristine and undisturbed. Thus, small treatment actions there can make a huge difference in preventing the spread of weeds. CRISP has been surveying locations likely to contain weeds- places like trailheads, campgrounds, and rock quarries. Surveys have also focused on decommissioned roads, where weeds can pop up and then go unnoticed for many years. For more details on these surveys and the treatments that have followed, visit the Upper Watershed Project Page.
These projects and other CRISP partner activities benefit the Clackamas watershed by improving habitat, protecting many restoration planting projects, and preventing invasive weed problems for many landowners. For detailed reports of CRISP projects, partner activities, funding, and expenditures, check out the annual reports since 2016 in the “Downloads” section below.
Many thanks to all of the CRISP partners, including:
- 4-County CWMA,
- Bureau of Land Management- Salem District,
- Clackamas County Parks,
- Clackamas County Water Environment Services,
- Clackamas River Basin Council,
- Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District,
- Columbia Land Trust,
- Natural Resources Conservation Service- Clackamas,
- North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District,
- Oregon Department of Agriculture- Noxious Weed Program,
- Oregon Parks and Recreation Department,
- Portland General Electric,
- United States Forest Service- Mt Hood National Forest
For more information about the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership, contact:
WeedWise Program Manager
Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District