Tag Archives | CRISP

Clackamas River Focus Area Weed Control

The Problem of Weeds on the Clackamas River

The Clackamas is a remarkably scenic river and a beautiful place to live, work, and recreate. The lower half of the river is home to many private residences, farms, public parks, quarries, golf courses, and natural areas. Unfortunately, and partly as a natural result of all this activity, it is also home to many invasive weeds.

Invasive weeds can cost landowners and managers a lot of money to control. They can degrade pastures and agricultural land. Some weeds can clog shorelines and smaller waterways, and some are even toxic. Furthermore, many of these weeds can spread upland or downstream, causing problems in other areas.

The CRISP hosted a 4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area field day, highlighting collaborative weed control and restoration along the Clackamas River. Photo by Samuel Leininger, CSWCD

Partner Collaboration

Many of our partners are doing great work along the Clackamas River. In particular, there has been a lot of work between Carver and Milo McIver State Park in Estacada. For example, the Clackamas River Basin Council has been removing weeds and planting native shrubs and trees at many streamside sites through their Shade Our Streams Program. Metro has many active restoration and weed control activities at multiple properties they manage. Both Oregon State Parks and Clackamas County also have multiple parks in this area where land managers control invasive weeds. The WeedWise program also controls high-priority weeds at many private and public sites along the Clackamas.

Despite all this great work, we needed shared strategies, increased coordination, and a way to seek sustainable sources of funding. The Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) has provided these things, allowing us to accomplish more weed control. The CRISP partners submit weed control project ideas and then meet to discuss and prioritize the projects. While we carry out projects throughout the whole watershed, the area between Carver and Milo McIver State Park is our key focus area. We highlight 3 focus area projects below.

Contracted crews spray false brome near Milo McIver State Park, Photo by Lindsey Karr, CSWCD

Milo McIver State Park (and surrounding areas) Project

Milo McIver State Park is an important area for both recreation and wildlife habitat. Aside from a few satellite weed patches, it also has the most upstream population of both garlic mustard and false brome. Because of its location on the River, and its importance as a recreation destination, it has a high potential to be a source for the spread of these weeds to other areas. For example, a camper, hiker, or disc golfer can come to the park from out of the area, get a bit of mud (with seeds!) on their boots or wheels, and then track it back home.

As a result of CRISP, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has been able to go after these weeds more effectively and aggressively. Furthermore, the increased coordination has brought attention to the area and the WeedWise program has controlled these weeds on neighboring properties. Furthermore, the WeedWise program has been able to control two Oregon Class A noxious weeds, giant hogweed, and oblong spurge, on neighboring properties. This prevents those weeds from entering the park, thus reducing the chances they will spread elsewhere.

Across the river, there is further collaboration to control several high priority weeds. Portland General Electric, Columbia Land Trust, the Clackamas River Basin Council, and the WeedWise program are working together to control garlic mustard, knotweed, policeman’s helmet, false brome, and spurge laurel.

Japanese knotweed growing along Deep Creek. Photo by Clackamas River Basin Council

Knotweed Project

Originally from Asia, but introduced to Europe and North America in the 1800s, invasive knotweeds are aggressively invading streams, rivers, and other landscapes. Many people who live on the Clackamas or its tributaries are all too familiar with this weed. While all of the CRISP partners would love to completely eradicate it, there is simply too much for anyone to control at a large scale. The good news is that CRISP has increased both coordination and resources to allow us to control more knotweed than we could without the partnership.

In 2017 and 2018, after coordination with CRISP partners, the WeedWise team tackled knotweed along the Clackamas upstream from where Richardson Creek flows into the Clackamas (near the junction of Highway 224 and Tong Rd). The WeedWise program was also able to survey for knotweed along upper Clear Creek, Eagle Creek, Dubois Creek, and other smaller streams that flow into the Clackamas. These surveys are important for us to understand where the knotweed is coming from and how to prioritize our control efforts. We are also coordinating work with the Clackamas River Basin Council to control knotweed along the upstream reaches of Deep Creek. In the future, we hope to expand this work to other Clackamas tributaries.

Garlic mustard control on a property near the Clackamas River. Photo by Samuel Leininger, CSWCD

Garlic Mustard Project

Garlic mustard is another serious invasive plant in North America. Highly adaptable, garlic mustard is difficult to control, spreads through copious seed production, and forms dense stands that out-compete native vegetation. Eradicating garlic mustard is a long process that can take years, even decades, before eradication is even possible. Thankfully, garlic mustard has not spread along the Clackamas as badly as knotweed, and CRISP partners have been able to make control efforts at most of the known populations each year. Part of the problem we face is that we don’t know about all the garlic mustard patches or don’t have access to them.

CRISP has helped the WeedWise program to reach out to more property owners. We’ve been able to send letters to inform people about our program and our efforts to control invasive weeds. Currently, there are about 160 landowners along the Clackamas that are signed on to participate. CRISP has also supported WeedWise efforts to survey more of these properties. In addition to these plant surveys, WeedWise and Metro collaborated to survey some of the islands in the Clackamas. We continue to work together as we make plans for the spring of 2019 to control the garlic mustard and other weeds we have found.


Local partners join forces to tackle costly invasive weeds along the Clackamas River

Invasive weeds currently cost Oregonians millions of dollars each year. One recent estimate indicates that without intervention these will increase to $1.8 billion in personal income losses a year from degraded lands and reduced productivity. What is being done? A local effort is underway to help mitigate the impacts of these invasive weeds along the […]

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Clackamas Upper Watershed Surveys

The Upper Watershed

The upper portion of the Clackamas River watershed contains about 445,000 acres of land, which is 74% of the total watershed. Most of this land is in the Mt. Hood National Forest,  managed by the USDA Forest Service. The upper watershed’s streams and rivers are fairly steep and fast moving with narrow floodplains and few side channels. There are almost no permanent human settlements in the upper watershed, and the area has largely been managed for forestry, conservation, and recreation. Additionally, much of the terrain is steep and somewhat remote. As a result, the forests, streams, and other habitats of the upper watershed are quite healthy and the presence of invasive weeds is low compared to the rest of the watershed. This is great news!

The Problem

A stream and high quality habitat in the upper watershed

Weed seeds or plant parts can spread to remote areas through recreationists, road maintenance equipment, and animals. Because these areas are remote, the concern is that an invasive weed patch could go undetected for years and become a big problem. For example, an abandoned rock quarry or decommissioned road can contain invasive weeds because seeds were accidentally brought to the area on dirty equipment. Then, because people rarely visit these places, those same weeds can grow without detection.

If these invasive weed populations are left unchecked, they can spread and dominate some areas, thus reducing plant diversity, decreasing the quality of habitat and forage, and potentially out-competing some of our rare and sensitive species.

While we are concerned about many invasive plants, we are most concerned about weeds that can grow well in forest understories, such as false brome, shiny geranium, and garlic mustard. There are also many invasive plants that spread easily along trails and roadsides. This can be a problem because the vehicles, hikers, and animals that use these roads and trails can unknowingly spread seeds or other reproductive plant parts.

WeedWise staff digging up false brome plants along a popular road used for recreation

What are we doing?

To combat this problem, the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) has decided to conduct extensive surveys of the upper watershed. In the fall of 2017, we surveyed about 300 locations in the upper watershed, targeting 67 invasive weeds. These locations included trailheads, campgrounds, quarries, and decommissioned roads. In addition to invasive weeds, we also looked for rare, threatened, and endangered species. This helps us to be aware of any sensitive species in the area when we return to control the weeds.

These surveys gave us valuable information. In particular, we were able to find and control previously undetected patches of false brome. Additionally, we recorded patches of houndstongue, knotweed, knapweeds, yellow toadflax, and a new weed to Oregon, European hawkweed, as well as many other more common weeds. We were also able to define the boundaries of other weed patches that had been previously recorded.

What’s next?

A previously undetected false brome infestation, about 1 mile down a decommissioned road.

We are currently in the process of planning our control efforts for the weeds we found in the surveys. Using the information we gathered, we are prioritizing which plants and locations we will target in the summer of 2018. In the upper watershed, the WeedWise program is working closely with the USDA Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Portland General Electric, and the Clackamas River Basin Council to control the most impactful weeds and prevent them from spreading.

We are also planning to conduct additional surveys to supplement previous efforts. In the summer of 2018, we plan to focus our attention on decommissioned roads, roads that have received maintenance (e.g., a culvert repair), and illegal dump sites.

This project gives us the information we need to detect and prevent the spread of invasive weeds and protect these high quality habitats.


Staff Spotlight: Lindsey Karr, WeedWise Specialist

Get to know the WeedWise program, through our people! The success of the WeedWise program is in great part due to the hard work and dedication of our staff.  If you have ever called the office or stopped by for assistance with your weed problems, you have undoubtedly worked with one of our hard-working employees.  […]

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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 […]

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Welcome to our newest WeedWise Specialist!

We are pleased to welcome a new addition to the Clackamas SWCD’s WeedWise Program.  Lindsey Karr is our newest WeedWise Specialist, joining the Weedwise program in late 2016. She works on controlling, surveying, and mapping invasive species; conducting outreach to landowners; and also collaborates with many of our partners to carry out the management plan […]

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Join the WeedWise Team!

We are currently seeking qualified candidates for a WeedWise Program specialist position. All applications materials must be submitted to the District no later than 4:30 PM on Oct 14, 2016. About the position The WeedWise Program Specialist is a full-time, at-will non-exempt position that will provide project management to the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation […]

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Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership

CRISP(new colors)

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.

Prior to 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 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:

The findings of this assessment were considered alongside additional factors including partner investments and engagement resulted in the establishment of four priority areas within the Clackamas River watershed.

Japanese knotweed growing along Deep Creek. Photo by Clackamas River Basin Council

Japanese knotweed growing along Deep Creek. Photo by Clackamas River Basin Council

Action plans created for each of the four priority areas were 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.

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 the Clackamas River Hydroelectric Project Mitigation and Enhancement Fund to support implementation over the next five years. To support this grant, several CRISP partners also committed resources to the project. Commitments included $300,000 in cash and in-kind services from the Clackamas SWCD, $292,500 of in-kind services from Clackamas River Basin Council, and $145,000 in cash and in-kind services from Metro. Additionally, the BLM awarded a partner agreement to Clackamas SWCD totaling $8,500 to CRISP in 2016, which is renewable pending available funding.  This 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.

Where are we now?

Although the grant resources were unavailable until late in the 2016 field season, CRISP partners reported expending $448,850 in contracted weed control and restoration services in 2016. The total estimated CRISP-related activities reported by partners in 2016 totaled $737,608. This work supported weed management and related activities on 2,836 acres of public and private land. See the full 2016 CRISP Annual Report here. The 2017 Annual Report is now in progress and will be available soon.

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 partnerships goals and structure and has now been signed by all partners. See the full CRISP MOU here.

To further enhance implementation efforts in the basin the Clackamas SWCD also hired a specialist to assist with implementation of CRISP-related activities. This CRISP specialist supports activities between partners and in identified gaps in management. The position was filled in
mid-December 2016 and will support the partnership moving forward into the five-year grant-funded implementation cycle.

Planning of cooperative implementation activities is currently underway for the 2018 field season.

Many thanks to all of the CRISP partners, including:


For more information about the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership, contact:

Samuel Leininger

WeedWise Program Manager

Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District

[email protected]



Suzi Cloutier

Outreach and Stewardship Specialist

Clackamas River Basin Council

[email protected]

503-303-4372 x105


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