Meet Erin McConnell

For our fourth and final installment of 2019 New Council Member Fridays, meet Erin McConnell! Erin is the Invasive Species Program Coordinator for Oregon and Washington at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In her role at BLM, she provides support to field programs, including reviewing pesticide use and distributing funds. Invasive species management is a huge part of Erin’s work, especially noxious weeds. One particular invasive species that she is concerned with is Ventanta dubia, an annual grass that was overlooked for a while, but is now everywhere!

With over 20 years of experience working as a Weed Manager for Oregon BLM, 19 of which were spent working in rural eastern Oregon, she has and will continue to share valuable insight that she has learned from her experience managing BLM District Weed programs and weed control activities, including chemical, biological, manual, and mechanical methods. Since becoming a Council member, Erin has joined the Education & Outreach Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Eastern Oregon Working Group. We are thrilled to have her on the Council and look forward to continuing a coordinated effort to tackle invasive species!

Flowering Rush Management in the Columbia Basin

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Flowering rush is an aggressive, invasive aquatic weed that has been documented in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana. This plant has the potential to invade and disrupt native marshlands in the Columbia River Basin and the impact of flowering rush on spawning habitat for native salmonid species is a growing concern. 

Achieving sufficient herbicide-plant contact time for successful plant control is one challenge when using aquatic herbicides to manage vegetation growing in flowing water systems. The US Army Corps of Engineers recently released a video that summarizes a unique approach to overcome this challenge by utilizing a bubble barrier system to curtail water flow, confine herbicide treatment, improve weed control, all while reducing impacts to non-target species: "Flowering Rush: Controlling an Invasive Species through Innovation and Partnership with the Walla Walla District".

Also related to flowering rush management in the Pacific Northwest is the Columbia Basin Flowering Rush Management Plan, which was recently released by the Columbia Basin Cooperative Weed Management Area. The Management Plan addresses the following topics:

  • Ecological Impacts

  • Distribution on the Columbia Basin

  • Policy

  • Management Options

  • Implementation Strategies

  • and more!

You can view/download the Management Plan here:


Columbia Basin Cooperative Weed Management Area. 2019. Columbia Basin Flowering Rush Management Plan: A regional strategy to address Butomus umbellatus throughout the Columbia Basin. pp 67

Meet Christine Moffitt!

For our third installment of New Council Member Fridays, we’re happy to introduce Christine Moffitt! 

Christine spent the summer of 1969 in Coos Bay at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, which fueled her love for the Oregon coast. Christine says her favorite place in Oregon is the Shore Acres state park due to the natural beauty, amazing beaches, and dramatic waves one can encounter there.

In her role as a fisheries biologist, Christine’s work was directly affected by invasive species introductions. She focused her research on understanding aquatic systems, which includes the present-day consequences of invasive species introductions made more than 150 years ago, when fisheries and biologists didn’t know how drastic those consequences would be. She has mostly spent time working on the removal of invasive fish, including eradicating carp. Christine got involved with other, smaller organisms while studying whirling disease, mollusks, and shellfish. Her biggest concern is the altering of ecosystems: small organisms are so easily transported, hard to see and understand, and there is still so much about them that is unknown. Globalization poses a large threat due to transportation and speed at which organisms are being relocated.

As a newly appointed Oregon Invasive Species Council member, Christine is most looking forward to using her knowledge to make a difference and support education and awareness about invasive species. In addition to her accolades as a biologist and role as Emerita professor at the University of Idaho, she also loves music and is the president of the Oregon Coast Music Association.

Oregon Invasive Species Hotline in Action

In May of this year, an Oregon Forest Pest Detectors (OFPD) program graduate submitted a report to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline after finding D-shaped exit holes and a green insect on a twinberry in her yard in SE Portland. The OFPD program trains volunteers to monitor for and report potential infestations of invasive forest pests. The green insect was later identified as Agrilus cyanescens, an exotic beetle that has been established in the eastern U.S. since the 1920s, but had never before been detected in the Pacific Northwest. 

In early August, another OFPD graduate submitted a report to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline after she noticed similar damage to a twinberry in her yard in NE Portland. This was also later confirmed to also be Agrilus cyanescens. 

At this time, the Oregon Department of Agriculture does not believe Agrilus cyanescens will be an economic, ecological, or horticultural pest. However, if you do notice any signs or symptoms of Agrilus cyanescens (branch dieback, D-shaped exit holes, serpentine-shaped galleries beneath the bark, and metallic green beetles feeding on leaves in April-May), we encourage you to submit a report

Thank you to these two Oregon Forest Pest Detectors for being on the lookout and submitting a report to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline! 

This story was originally shared in the
OFPD Summer 2019 newsletter

Summer 2019 OISC Meeting Recap

Thank you to everyone who came out to our July 2019 OISC meeting that took place at the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem, OR. Here is a quick recap of the meeting in case you missed it:

Chair Update and Budget Report

The legislative session ended on June 30, 2019 and the OISC received $150,000, plus a one-time appropriation of $300,000 through House Bill 5050. Between now and the next Council meeting, a budget will be developed that includes Council operations, contribution to the state’s emergency control account for invasive species, and education & outreach grants.

WGA Policy Resolution 2019-06, Biosecurity and Invasive Species Management Update

Bill Whitacre from the Western Governors Association joined the meeting via conference call. WGA’s Biosecurity Initiative is a year long initiative including four workshops in the west and a resulting report with policy resolution. Each workshop was held on a different topic and recordings are available online if you missed them. You can also find the  Policy Resolution 2019-06 here, which gives direction to WGA going forward and the Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative Special Report, which includes 30-40 specific recommendations to improve invasive species management in the west.

Council Priorities & Implementation

With the passing of Senate Bill 445, there will be updates to the Council’s membership, leadership and reporting structure. Next steps for the Council include updating the Council’s operating procedures, Administrative Rules and work plan to satisfy both the resulting changes from SB445 and the Statewide Strategic Plan for Invasive Species. Highlights from three priority topic discussions about council priorities and implementation are below.

Small Group Working Session Highlights

Snapshot of Outreach & Education Grants Discussion

Discussed a two-tiered approach for launching an outreach & education grant program. 

  • Tier One: General invasive pest topics or campaigns based on Council’s priorities. Discussed media and collaboration with travel organizations and other industries.

  • Tier Two: Fewer, smaller projects or campaigns including social media and school projects (outdoor school, sports clubs, etc.)

Snapshot of Council Priorities Discussion

  • SB 445 implementation

  • Evaluate Action Plan

  • Maintain hotline

  • Fundraising & grant writing

  • Working with industry

  • 2020 Summit

Snapshot of Communication Planning Discussion

  • Create products that share stories

  • Connect efforts and people

  • Emphasis on benefits of coordinated effort 

  • Cross-boundary collaborations

  • Publicize invasive hotline 

  • Robust events calendar

  • Interactive story map showcasing across the state

Thank you for a productive Council Meeting!

We hope to see you at the next meeting in eastern Oregon on October 15-17, 2019. More details will be available soon on the OISC meetings page.