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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. 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 or to another park.

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 the 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.

Bohemian 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, 2018, and 2019, 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 and treat knotweed along upper/middle Clear Creek, Eagle Creek, Dubois Creek, North Fork Deep Creek, and other smaller streams that flow into the Clackamas. The 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 Deep Creek. In the future, we hope to expand this work to other Clackamas tributaries and further downstream on the Clackamas.

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 sent letters to inform people about our program and our efforts to control invasive weeds. Currently, there are about 510 landowners in the Clackamas watershed that are signed on to participate. CRISP has also supported WeedWise efforts to survey those properties. In addition to these plant surveys, WeedWise and Metro collaborated to survey some of the islands in the Clackamas River. Afterward, we worked with restoration contractors to control the weeds we found, thus preventing them from spreading downstream.


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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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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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.

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

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

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:

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.

Restoration contractors hand-pull garlic mustard in a floodplain area near the Clackamas River. Photo by Lindsey Karr, Clackamas SWCD

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:


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

Samuel Leininger

WeedWise Program Manager

Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District

[email protected]



Monte Mattsson

WeedWise Specialist- CRISP

Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District

[email protected]



The management of invasive weeds can be daunting task.  Invasive species are spreading across the landscape.  They ignore political and property boundaries, and when left unmanaged spread freely from neighbor to neighbor.  This unchecked movement, necessitates the need for strong partnerships and collaboration across political boundaries and across our region.  The WeedWise program is dedicated to partnering with local and regional entities to improve management of invasive weeds.  We work with various organizations on a regular basis to facilitate more effective control.  Below are just a few of the broad partnerships we support to improve management across our region.  Thanks to all of our partners for their support and dedication to reducing the impact from invasive weeds.

4-County Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA)

4cwma-CMYK_roundThe 4-County CWMA serves the greater Portland Metropolitan Area and includes Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah and Washington counties.  The partnership has twenty-eight formal partners representing federal, state and local governments,watershed councils, universities and local non-profits organizations.  The 4-County CWMA focuses on increasing collaboration  and communication among land managers within the Portland metropolitan area.  Issues related to urban weed management and public education are key areas of focus for the 4-County CWMA.

The WeedWise program has been a very active participant in the 4-County CWMA.  The WeedWise program currently administers the 4-County CWMA on behalf of the partnership.  All WeedWise program serves various leadership roles within the 4-County CWMA, including acting as CWMA Coordinator, Co-Chairing the CWMA Steering Committee, and Chairing the Mapping and Data Committee.

For more information about the 4-County CWMA visit their website at 4countycwma.org.

Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP)

CRISP(new colors)The Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) is a relatively new partnership focused specifically on invasive species management within the Clackamas River Basin.   The CRISP has thirteen informal members organizations representing a diversity of interests across the Clackamas Basin.   This partnership has recently completed a strategic management plan for the Clackamas Basin, that prioritizes efforts within the Basin based on partner participation, the threat of invasive weeds, and the quality of land within the basin.  Work has begun to begin coordination of on-the-ground  control efforts among partners, and to secure additional funding for future invasive weed control efforts.

The WeedWise program has assisted CRISP partners by helping to draft the strategic plan, including development of site and species prioritization models.  Staff is currently helping to form sub-basin working groups, and to secure more funding to aid in future weed control efforts within the Clackamas Basin.

Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA)

Columbia Gorge logoThe Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) is focused on collaborative weed management within the greater Columbia River Gorge.  The Sandy River Watershed in northern Clackamas County is one of the areas highlighted for management.  The Columbia Gorge CWMA has a strong focus on prevention and early detection of invasive weeds.  With an estimated 2 million people visiting the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area each year, the CWMA focuses highly on education and outreach to the general public.  Public land managers are working collaboratively across the area, to prevent the establishment of invasive weeds, and to respond to new invasions as soon as they are detected.

The WeedWise program is an active member of the Columbia Gorge CWMA. The WeedWise program currently administers the Columbia Gorge CWMA on behalf of the partnership.  WeedWise program serve several leadership roles within the Columbia Gorge CWMA, including acting as CWMA Coordinator, and serving on the Steering Committee, and Education and Outreach Committees.

For more information about the Columbia Gorge CWMA please visit their website at columbiagorgecwma.org.

Oregon iMapInvasives

orimap-logo-fill-original-copyUnderstanding the distribution of invasive weeds is a critical component to effectively manage the dispersal and spread.  The mapping of invasive weed populations allow us to understand if weeds spread by roads or streams, what types of habitats they invade, and were we might expect new infestations to occur.  Oregon iMapInvasives has been a critical tool for the sharing and aggregation of invasive species distribution data.  Originally championed by the Oregon Invasive Species Council, Oregon iMapInvasives is overseen by the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center and is supported by fourteen partners working through the state of Oregon.  Continued development of iMapInvasives is also undertaken in cooperation from partners from eleven states or provinces.

The WeedWise program has been active partner of iMapInvasives since its introduction to the state.  The Clackamas SWCD, has been an financial supporter of the program since inception, and remains a strong advocate for its use.  WeedWise program staff have assisted the Oregon iMapInvasives in website testing, and enhancements to the database structure.

For more information about Oregon ImapInvasives check out the Oregon iMapInvasives Resources page at sites.google.com/site/orimapresources or check out the weed distribution data at imapinvasives.org/orimi/map

Oregon Invasive Species Council (OISC)

oiscThe Oregon Invasive Species Council is organization created in 2001 by the Oregon Legislature.  The council is comprised of a seventeen member panel representing diverse interests across the state.  The OISC considers impacts from all taxa including weeds, and they have championed many initiatives including the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline and Oregon iMapInvasives.  The council has a strong focus on education and policy within Oregon related to invasive species management.

The WeedWise program currently serves as the county lead for the Oregon Invasives Species Hotline, and actively promotes its use.  WeedWise program staff also serves on the council Advisory Committee to help inform decision making at the state level.

For more information about the Oregon Invasive Species Council, visit their website at oregoninvasivespeciescouncil.org.

Pacific Northwest Invasive Plants Council (PNW-IPC)

PNW_IPC_LOGOThe Pacific Northwest Invasives Plants Council is a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing the spread of invasive weeds in the Pacific Northwest.  The PNW-IPC includes the states of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska and the provinces of British Columbia and Yukon.  The primary focus of this organization is to inform the policy makers and the general public regarding invasive species related issues, and to promote communication between managers at the state and national levels.

The WeedWise program has partnered with the PNW-IPC to host a citizen science based trainings in Clackamas County for early detection efforts in the Mt. Hood National Forest.  These efforts mirror similar efforts on other national forest in Washington.  The WeedWise program is pleased to support expansion into Oregon.

For more information about the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council visit their website at pnw-ipc.org

Play Clean Go

Play-clean-goPlay Clean Go is a national effort to prevent the spread of invasive species across the US.  This partnership focuses on messaging of the threat of invasive species, and potential for spread from recreation.  Originally developed in Minnesota, the Play Clean Go campaign has grown nationally to include more than 170 organizations working together to share a common message to prevent the spread of invasive species.

The WeedWise program formally joined the Play Clean Go campaign in 2015.  We are currently working with other local partners to share this common messaging throughout our region.

For information about Play Clean Go, check their website at playcleango.org


Sandy Basin Vegetation Restoration Coalition (SBVRC)

SBVRClogoThe Sandy Basin Vegetation Restoration Coalition, was created to promote control of invasive weeds and to restore riparian vegetation throughout the Sandy River Basin.  The SBVRC is comprised of members representing thirteen informal members organizations working with the Sandy Basin.   The SBVRC has focused broadly on early detection and rapid response efforts, as well as on riparian restoration activities.

The WeedWise program has participated in the SBVRC since its inception.  WeedWise program efforts have focused on early detection and rapid response efforts for priority weed species within Clackamas County.

Western Invasives Network (WIN)

PrintThe Western Invasive Network, previously known at the Northwest Weed Management Partnership is an organization dedicated to the creation and maintenance of Cooperative Weed Management Areas in western Oregon and southwestern Washington.  The WIN serves as a technical resource and as a conduit for communication between land managers.  The efforts of the WIN are intended to increase the capacity and continuity of invasive weed management across the region.

The WeedWise program currently oversees coordination of two CWMAs within the WIN.  WeedWise staff work closely with share our efforts with other CWMAs throughout the region to promote the management of invasive weeds.  WeedWise program staff has also previously served on the WIN steering committee to help with administration and planning for the partnership.

For more information about the Western Invasive Network visit their website at cascadepacific.org/western-invasives-network.

Willamette Aquatic Invasives Network (WAIN)

WAINlogoWAIN is comprised of natural resource and conservation professionals who work for diverse government agencies, universities, soil and water conservation districts, watershed councils, non-profits, and other organizations throughout the Willamette Basin. The purpose of the Willamette Aquatic Invasives Network is to: 1) Foster collaboration to share information, expertise, technologies, scientific data, and best management practices; 2) Develop strategies to protect aquatic resources; and 3) Restore riparian habitat in the Willamette River Basin.

The WeedWise program currently supports WAIN efforts through data sharing and consultation on data collection, protocols, and prioritization.

For more information about the Willamette Aquatic Invasives Network visit their website.



The WeedWise Program is dedicated to helping protect Clackamas County from the ongoing threat of invasive weeds.  These projects are often based around the prevention or management or priority invasive weeds. We currently working on projects across the county, but focus largely on priority invasive weeds, priority sites, or on partnership projects.

Priority Weed Control Projects

Orange hawkweed control is an example of a priority weed control project underway at several locations in Clackamas County.

The priority weed control program focuses on the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) of new or rare invasive weeds where the goal is either eradication or containment.  These projects allow us to focus our resources for maximum impact.  Priority weed control projects typically occur at the landscape level and impact multiple landowners either public or private.  These project focus on the control and eradication of a priority weed species.  Some examples of our current priority weed control projects include the active management of:

  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • False brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum)
  • Spurge laurel (Daphne laureola)
  • Oblong spurge (Euphorbia oblongata)
  • Japanese, Giant, and Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia japonica, F. sachalinensis, and F. x bohemica)
  • Goatsrue (Galega officinalis)
  • Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)
  • Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
  • Policeman’s helmet (Impatiens glandulifera)
  • Blessed Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris)
  • Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

The priority weed control projects are one of our highest priorities and target all known infestations across the county or within a given management area.

Priority Site Projects

The Bull Run Gate Project was initiated to protect the city of Portland’s municipal watershed from encroaching birds dispersed invasive weeds

Priority site projects are projects that are designed to protect areas of exceptional quality or of unique ecological, economic, or cultural importance.   Some examples of projects that the WeedWise program is currently working on or have spearheaded in the past include:

  • Barton Area Priority weeds project
  • Bull Run Gate weed control project
  • Coral Creek weed control project
  • Molalla River confluence project
  • Newell Creek restoration project
  • Salmon River priority weed control project
  • South Creek-Abernethy project
  • Lolo Pass priority weed control project

The priority site project areas are typically local or regional significance and are designed to protect or buffer these areas from  the encroachment or spread of invasive weeds.  The goals of these projects is typically focused on exclusion and maintenance of natural areas within the project areas.

Partnership Projects

Knotweed control efforts undertaken in conjunction with the Clackamas River Invasive Species Partnership, focus area project.

Partnership project are those projects that are typically undertaken in conjunction with local and regional partners.  These projects are often complex and have diverse interests.  These projects involve working in cooperation with partner organizations to implement projects across broad geographic areas or across jurisdictional boundaries.  Examples of partnership projects include:

Learn More

To learn more about our projects please check the project drop downs in the navigation menu above, or contact us about information pertaining to a particular project mentioned.

WeedWise Program