Columbia Gorge CWMA Coordinator
We are happy to announce that in October 2018 we hired Courtney Gattuso as our new CWMA coordinator! In May 2018, our previous coordinator, Sarah Hamilton, was presented an amazing opportunity with Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District in Salem, OR that she could not refuse. Thanks to our committee members for filling in the gaps while there was no active coordinator!
Courtney serves a multifaceted role as the Columbia Gorge CWMA and 4-County CWMA Coordinator, as well as a WeedWise Specialist with Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. Courtney has a diverse skill set in vegetation management, outreach and education, and data collection and monitoring that align well with the goals and objectives of the Columbia Gorge CWMA. She also possesses experience in website building and graphic design that will help enhance the management of the Columbia Gorge CWMA website, newsletter, fact sheets, and events.
Workshops and Events
Invasive Species & Exotic Pest Workshop
In 2018, the Columbia Gorge Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) sponsored the seventh annual Invasive Species and Exotic Pest Workshop in Stevenson, Washington. This workshop is the premier event for practitioners and decision makers to learn about invasive species in the Columbia River Gorge. More than 140 people registered for the day-long workshop. Speakers came from organizations including Washington Department of Natural Resources, Western Invasives Network, Oregon Department of Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Oregon State University, Washington State University Extension, and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. Topics ranged from the consideration of surfactants, impacts and recovery efforts of the Eagle Creek Fire, sudden oak death in Oregon, exotic forest insects in the Columbia Gorge, and so much more! The reviews were overwhelmingly positive for the event and we are excited to be in the planning efforts for the 2019 workshop. The Invasive Species and Exotic Pest Workshop was co-hosted by Washington State University Extension and the Washington Invasive Species Council, and was funded in part by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Stop the Invasion: Weed Management 101
The CWMA along with the Washington Invasive Species Council, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Washington State University Extension hosted a half-day workshop for attendees to learn about invasive species in the Columbia River Gorge. Attendees learned identification and control methods for common weeds as well as reporting methods for higher priority invasives, non-plant pests, and how to be fire-wise in the Gorge. Twenty-five public and private land managers registered for this training in Hood River. Speakers travelled from Washington State University Extension, the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council, the Underwood Conservation District and the Klickitat County Noxious Weed Program.
CWMA Field Day 2018
The Columbia Gorge CWMA had 23 attendees for this day of on-the-ground learning. Presentations explored various restoration projects at the Trout Lake Natural Areas Preserve in Trout Lake, Washington. Presenters discussed sand bars and cedar grove restoration in the Clarksville area. Attendees also learned about controlling invasive weeds to restore Oregon Spotted Frog habitat in Elk Meadows, and information about cranes and wetland restoration efforts near the Larson Barn area. The Field Day highlighted many weed species, which included reed canarygrass, Canada thistle, houndstongue, knapweed, oxeye daisy, St. John’s wort, sulfur cinquefoil, and various hawkweeds. The trip was scheduled during an excellent time of the year and included beautiful views of Mt. Adams.
3nd Annual Boot Brush Kick-Off
The CWMA celebrated Earth Day weekend, April 21st and 22nd, with volunteers posted at informational booths near boot brushes at trailheads throughout the Columbia River Gorge. Volunteers discussed the importance of weed prevention through boot brushing and pet cleaning with trail users and handed out flyers and packable boot brushes. One of the busiest weekends of the year and the beginning of the hiking season, Earth Day weekend is a fantastic time to teach visitors about the impacts of invasive plants on their favorite natural areas. Twenty-nine volunteers at sixteen trailheads connected with over 1000 visitors, handed out over 300 boot brushes, dispersed over 200 Weeds of the Gorge booklets, and passed out native pollinator seed packets from WSDA.
Meeting and Planning Activities
CWMA General Meetings
The CWMA hosted four 2-hour general meetings with a total of nearly 70 attendees from partner governmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and nonprofits. These meetings are a core activity of the CWMA, bringing folks together from throughout the CWMA to discuss topics, learn about new invasives and control strategies, and engage in presentations about projects from the region. Topics ranged widely from partners sharing the new weeds they have encountered, new control methods they have found successful, the accessibility status from the Eagle Creek Fire, Oregon Department of Agriculture’s newly listed weed species, and even a roundtable discussion of the future of the Columbia Gorge CWMA.
CWMA Education & Outreach Committee
Three 1-hour Education & Outreach meetings occurred in 2018 with over 20 attendees. During these meetings the Field Day and the Boot Brush Kick-Off were planned, and contributions were made to planning of the Invasive Species and Exotic Pest and Stop the Invasion trainings. The group also helped to edit Best Management Practices documents.
CWMA Steering Committee
The Steering Committee met for six 1-hour sessions in 2018. Five dedicated committee members help to steer and direct the activities of the CWMA. Issues addressed at the meetings ranged from planning all of the various events, directing the activities related to CWMA funding and grants, planning meetings and outreach materials, and hiring a new coordinator. The Steering Committee also creates the annual plan for the group, advises on the website, and writes letters of support for partner organizations.
Columbia Gorge CWMA Weeder Reader Newsletters
Only two Columbia Gorge CWMA Weeder Reader Newsletters were emailed to partners in 2018 due to the 5-month gap without a dedicated coordinator. As our new coordinator transitions into her role, the Weeder Reader Newsletter will be back-up and running for the new calendar year! The group has over 110 subscribers and the newsletters contain information about upcoming events, activities, grants, research, and media articles related to invasive species. They also include job listings by partner organizations and provide a venue for partners to ask questions and present findings to the group.
Weed Control Best Management Practices Development
In the past year the CWMA secured grant funding from USDA APHIS for the development of Best Management Practices documents (BMPs) for ten additional invasive plants. This effort was undertaken in conjunction with the Washington Invasive Species Council and WSU Extension and builds upon previous efforts by the group last year. These BMPs were developed in conjunction with the Stop the Invasion weed management course and the Invasive Species & Exotic Pest Workshop.
The BMPs were developed for 10 invasive plant species common in the Columbia River Gorge. BMPs are intended for use by partners as a resource to landowners and managers when dealing with these invasive weeds and can be found on the CWMA website. The BMPs developed in the past year include:
- Ventenata grass
- Scotch thistle
- Shiny geranium
- Yellow starthistle
- Purple loosestrife
- English holly
- Spotted Knapweed
- Poison hemlock
The Columbia Gorge CWMA website was maintained over the past year with an updated events calendar, informational brochures available to the public and partners, and other informational materials. The Best Management Practices (BMPs) were added to the website and are freely available for use by partners.