The Sandy River is an important area for the protection of federally listed salmon and steelhead, as well as native plants and animals of northwest Oregon, yet is within 30 minutes of downtown Portland, Oregon's largest metropolitan area. Federal state and local agencies and non-profits have been involved in conserving land in the Sandy for decades and much of the upper watershed is in public ownership. In the middle and lower river sections, more than 4000 individuals live within a quarter mile of the river or its tributaries. As in many places, noxious weeds threaten to quietly undo the good work done by so many over so much time. The invasive species Japanese and giant knotweed in particular threaten to degrade habitat that is critical for the long-term health of the river system by displacing the native species that provide shade, structure and food for the river. Despite or perhaps because the range of public, private conservation and private ownership management has been uncoordinated and ineffective at addressing issue at a watershed scale.
Because knotweed is a looming problem not only throughout the Pacific Northwest, but also much of the temperate world, with the encouragement of our partners The Nature Conservancy chose to lead an effort to tacke the knotweed problem. We committed to developing educational materials, conducting outreach to landowners, students and other citizens about weeds and watershed health, doing basic research to develop effective control methods and last but not least finding and treating knotweed on lands in all ownerships, free of charge. Partners provided funding and logistical support and particpate in the regional knotweed working group. The Nature Conservancy provides project leadership and technical capacity.
Our main objectives were to: identify the location of all knotweed plants in the watershed, achieve control of knotweed throughout the watershed, develop control methods and outreach materials that could be used by other programs and increase public awareness of the threat of knotweed and other invasive speceis to the health of our rivers.