Metro helps fight an invasive weed, count mussels and connect people with nature in Multnomah County
Neighbors in Northeast Portland are taking on an invasive weed that may be relatively new to the Portland metropolitan area but has wreaked havoc in California, other parts of the United States and France.
The Metro Council, on May 19, awarded more than $572,000 in Nature in Neighborhoods grants to seven community projects in Multnomah County. One of the projects received a capital grant funded by the natural areas bond measure approved by voters in 2006. The six other projects will get restoration and enhancement grants that come out of Metro's general fund.
Waging war against the Ludwigia weed in Northeast Portland
Ludwigia, a water primrose, reproduces quickly, clogging ponds and lakes, covering wetlands, choking slow-moving streams and even impeding rivers with dense mats of vegetation. For humans, it interferes with boating, swimming and fishing. For native plants and aquatic life, it degrades water quality and lowers oxygen levels and water temperature. The invasive weed has already taken over three ponds in the Blue Heron Wetlands.
Thanks to a $20,000 Nature in Neighborhoods restoration and enhancement grant, East Columbia neighbors will team with experts to get a jump on the weed.
"Conversations with local and out-of-state environmental managers have confirmed that this species threaten the ecological integrity of other local waterways, in addition to Blue Heron Wetlands," said Jane Bacchieri, watershed group manager for the City of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services. "Given this threat, we feel that the time to act is now."
The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently listed Ludwigia as a Class B Noxious Weed, meaning eradicating it has become a high priority.
"While it is now established in tributaries of the Upper Willamette system, its impacts will be detrimental to the slow moving waterways in the area by stagnating water, creating excellent habitat for mosquito survival and by significantly restricting aquatic recreational opportunities in the area," according to Glenn Miller with the department's Noxious Weed Control Program.
Nearby residents get credit for getting this project moving.
"Again and again, it is neighbors and just plain folks that make the difference, whether it's restoring a wetland or coming up with new ways to improve this great place," said Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder.
Monitoring streams and mussels
Many of the other six projects in Multnomah County that received nature grants from Metro on May 19 will track and benefit the health of other local waterways. One such project partners the Xerces Society, a nonprofit organization working to conserve invertebrates and their habitat, with groups such as the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, the Tryon Creek Watershed Council and the Clackamas River Basin Council. The organizations will use $11,500 in grant money to track freshwater mussels in the region. These mussels are some of the most at-risk species in the United States, but their decline has received little attention in the Pacific Northwest. The mussels are an important food source for aquatic wildlife and their presence helps maintain healthy streams.
Finishing up restoration at the Pittock Bird Sanctuary
Another project receiving funding ties into the revival of Forest Park. The Audubon Society of Portland and its partners will use a $20,000 restoration and enhancement grant to finish a project in the Pittock Bird Sanctuary, next to the park. Volunteers have made a big dent pulling out invasive species and planting native alternatives, but now contractors can come in and tackle the tougher work on steep and sensitive slopes.
A lesson in nature for Centennial students
Students at Centennial's Pleasant Valley Elementary School will soon have a better way to explore the seven-and-a-half-acre Wildside Natural Area next to their school. A more than $112,000 capital grant, funded by Metro's 2006 voter-approved natural areas bond measure, will create a new network of trails and a boardwalk. The boardwalk will be constructed and installed by students from Ace Academy, a charter high school that specializes in architecture, construction and engineering.
"The Wildside project is a wonderful example of ecological restoration on a site with lots of potential for community engagement," according to Jean Fike, executive director for the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District. "Not only does the Wildside project provide real ecological improvements in our region; invasive species removal, hydrologic restoration through innovative stormwater management as well as the establishment of a mixed conifer/hardwood forest, it also provides a way for the local community to be actively involved in restoring a forest in their community."
Find out about other Multnomah County projects and programs Metro's Nature in Neighborhoods grants supportLearn more about Nature in Neighborhoods capital grantsLearn more about Nature in Neighborhoods restoration and enhancement grants