North Coast Land Conservancy’s largest habitat reserve is a globally rare Sitka spruce swamp, inaccessible by foot. So NCLC staff and volunteers are spending the weekend of Aug. 10 and 11 weeding Blind Slough Swamp by canoe. More volunteers are being sought to take part in this two-day stewardship event known as Swampathon 2019.
Conservation of 902-acre Blind Slough Swamp, on the lower Columbia River near Knappa, was transferred from The Nature Conservancy to NCLC earlier this year after years of collaborative stewardship. TNC is partnering with NCLC on Swampathon.
The weekend will target two invasive plant species: purple loosestrife and English ivy. Purple loosestrife grows along the lower Columbia and spreads easily, threatening to overwhelm the diverse wetland ecology of this area and crowding out native plants such as cattail and wapato, which feed native wildlife. English ivy grows up the ancient Sitka spruce trees that grow on hummocks in the swamp. Ivy grows into high into the trees’ canopy to get enough sunlight to produce berries that birds help spread. The weight of the ivy vines will bring down these majestic trees, some as much as 400 years old and many of which support bad eagle nests.
On Saturday, August 10th volunteers will attack ivy in the Big Creek unit of the habitat reserve from 1 to 5 pm, while the tide is out. On Sunday, August 11th those volunteers will paddle upstream on larger side channels of the Columbia to attack loosestrife growing at the water’s edge from 9 am to 4 pm. Volunteers are welcome to camp together at Brownsmead Grange and share dinner Saturday night.
This important work is strenuous and can include disembarking from a canoe onto a steep and slippery bank, walking through dense jungle-like vegetation, and balancing on uneven ground while working with sharp tools. Canoes, rather than kayaks, will be used to access the target sites and carry out plant materials. Registration is limited to 16 people due to boat capacity, unless you are able to bring your own canoe. More details are available at NCLCtrust.org/events. To sign up and receive directions and camping details, please contact NCLC Stewardship Director Melissa Reich at 503-738-9126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: Pulling purple loosestrife by canoe at Blind Slough Swamp during Swampathon 2018.