Every day organizations around the watershed partner with each other to accomplish work that restores the natural, historical, and cultural resources of our watershed. Here’s a story about one such partnership between Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Portland Water Bureau (PWB), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). They are working together to eradicate hawkweed, a noxious weed, within the beautiful Mt. Hood National Forest. Thanks to Courtney Gattuso, WeedWise Program Specialist at the CSWCD, for writing this piece!
Mt. Hood Weed Partners – many hands make light work!
In 1998, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) discovered a small population of meadow hawkweed within a powerline corridor adjacent to Lolo Pass Road nested in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Due to the lack of environment assessments covering the region at the time, treatment options were very limited, and the hawkweed populations grew rapidly in just 5 years. As environmental assessments were developed, coordination efforts from regional partners grew and collaboration was strengthened to help tackle the hawkweed infestation.
Meadow hawkweed in full bloom.
Alongside ODA, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD), and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) formed the Mt. Hood Weed Partners group to address the growing hawkweed populations. The group utilizes various resources to assist in their collaborative efforts, including retained receipts funds, intergovernmental agreements, annual meetings, and an email list for open communication. By sharing roles and responsibilities, the group is able to maximize their capacity and implement work beyond their normal jurisdictional boundaries.
Marissa Ng (U.S. Forest Service) scouts for hawkweed plants above a creek bank.
Where we’re at now!
In June 2019, the largest and most comprehensive cooperative effort to date on the Lolo Pass hawkweed infestation took place. The project area encompasses about 5,000 acres of land (over 500 acres of core areas) and spans over both Clackamas County and Hood River County. The stars aligned perfectly, and the project area was treated in entirety for the first time with partner staff members and local restoration contractors, J. Franco Reforestation, Inc.
To control hawkweeds most effectively, the J. Franco Reforestation, Inc. crew applies spot treatments of a specific herbicide. All staff and contractors involved in this project are trained and licensed pesticide applicators with excellent plant identification skills.
Currently, the Mt. Hood Weed Partners are wrapping up this year’s treatments and were able to conduct additional surveys in new areas outside of the known infestation. Due to successful treatments and lower population densities, the group had extra capacity to expand into new territories and gain better insight of the population’s full extent.
George Petty (Oregon Department of Agriculture) scouts for hawkweed plants.
During the peak week of treatments there were 20+ people working in the corridor to suppress and prevent this aggressive invader from infesting vulnerable wilderness meadows. Given the size of the project area and density of the populations, spot treatment applications of a selective herbicide is necessary to control hawkweeds most effectively. All staff and contractors involved in this project are trained and licensed pesticide applicators with excellent plant identification skills. This helps to reduce the potential for off-target damage while using the lowest rate of herbicide to avoid any unnecessary soil contamination.
Beth Myers-Shenai and George Petty (Oregon Department of Agriculture) pose near a healthy meadow hawkweed plant.
We are very grateful for the support, coordination, and hard work from our amazing partners and contractors. This collaborative effort would not be possible without them and we look forward to seeing this project continue to evolve over time.