By Sara Ennis, SRWC Community Stewardship Coordinator
The “Invasive Weed Smackdown,” as it is familiarly known to the Council and partners, completed its 6th successful season in partnership with the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District in 2018. Invasive weeds are a significant threat to thriving intact native riparian forests, home to endangered salmon and other beloved forest species, prompting “Captain Smackdown*” to take action.
Disguised as Sandy River Watershed staff in orange field vests, Smackdown heroes stalk the sometimes elusive, sometimes ubiquitous Policeman’s helmet to destem its popping seed heads and keep it from spreading downstream. In 2018 the orange vests surveyed 162 acres on 79 properties, detecting Policeman’s helmet on 12 properties and another aggressive Sandy River invader known as Japanese knotweed. Like Policeman’s Helmet, there are other invaders with similarly misleading names like “Yellow Archangel” and “Bishop’s Goutweed” that bely their propensity to take over the developed sections of the Salmon River.
Despite these distractions, Captain Smackdown stayed focused on battling the true target: Policeman’s Helmet. Current climate conditions favor this weed allowing new sprouts to emerge as soon as mature stands are plucked. But this strategy was no match for Smackdown heroes this year. The orange vests, in partnership with Sound Native Plants crews, were on it, returning two and three times to a site, ensuring that no new seedling had a chance to go to seed. As such, the once spreading populations along the Salmon River are again diminished. But Smackdown heroes didn’t stop there. They went on to reinforce their alliances, tabling at the Sandy farmer’s market, and Sandy Ridge, handing out seed-spread-prevention boot brushes and e-blasting the social media universe so that everyone would know and be on the look out for the next invasion.
Stay tuned for the next episode in 2019….