Pretty Plants Create a Dangerous Threat

Columbia County’s The Chronicle recently published an article about the threat of invasive plants and shared some great insight from Crystlyn Bush, a Riparian Specialist with the Columbia Soil & Water Conservation District. Though this may not be new information to some of us, certain attractive plants or those that provide delicious fruit can be quite dangerous, posing a threat to biodiversity across the country. Specifically in our region, we have issues with Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, and Scotch Broom, among others. These plants arrived here by different methods; some came over inadvertently on ships with settlers, while others were intentionally introduced by people who weren’t aware of the long lasting impacts.

These plants not only affect biodiversity, but can have huge economic consequences. “The top 25 invasive plants are responsible for $83 million in costs to agriculture in the form of reduced production, the cost of controlling their spread, and degrading the native environment,” says Bush.

However, Bush gives us hope and a positive outlook on invasives: “There is not a bad plant, just a plant out of place.” While we may not be able to get rid of invasives entirely, we can attempt to keep them from spreading further.

Read the full article written by Morris Malakoff here.

To learn more about invasive plants in Oregon, check out the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Oregon Noxious Weed Profiles page.


Beech Leaf Disease: Emerging Threat from the Eastern US

There is another forest pest that needs to be on our radar! Beech Leaf Disease (BLD) is a newly recognized problem of American Beech trees (Fagus grandifolia) and possibly European Beech (Fagus sylvatica). It was first observed in northeast Ohio in 2012 and has has since been observed in Pennsylvania, New York, and the Canadian Province of Ontario.

The symptoms of BLD can include striping on leaves, thicker textures where striping occurs, and heavily shriveled and deformed leaves in later stages. BLD can even result in mortality, mainly in saplings, occurring in as little as two years. Larger trees can resist BLD effects longer and some foliage that appear to be unaffected may even persist on an otherwise affected tree. That being said, it has spread rapidly in established areas, with the proportion of American beech showing symptoms reaching nearly 100% (Pogacnik and Macy, 2016).

 Early leaf striping symptoms of BLD. From Pogacnik & Macy, 2016.

Early leaf striping symptoms of BLD. From Pogacnik & Macy, 2016.

 Later stages of BLD resulting in leathery, curled leaves. From Pogacnik & Macy, 2016.

Later stages of BLD resulting in leathery, curled leaves. From Pogacnik & Macy, 2016.

To address this threat, a group of individuals was gathered earlier this year from various fields and partner agencies with expertise in BLD. The purpose of this group is to create a framework document that will guide future work, hopefully leading to a decline in the disease and the recovery of healthy beech species. You can look for the framework document to be complete by the end of this year from USDA Forest Service Forest Health Protection staff. 


To view/download the BLD Pest Alert, click here.

To view/download the August 2018 BLD Update, click here.


Information in this post was gathered from the BLD Pest Alert, written by John Pogacnik and Tom Macy (2016); August 2018 BLD Update, written by James Jacobs.


Wildfire Recovery: One Oregon Farmer's Efforts to Keep Invasives Out

Oregon is experiencing another busy fire season, with the number of acres burned steadily climbing. While many of the devastating effects of large wildfires are obvious, another downside that can easily be overlooked is the threat of invasive species taking over recently burned land. One man is making an effort to combat this issue. Jerry Erstrom, who worked as a fire manager with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 30 years, knows the challenges that invasive species pose on burned land. The invasive plants have an advantage over native species, Erstrom says, as they “green up a little earlier in the spring, they ripen a little earlier in the summer and they tend to create quite a fire hazard because they’re very fine and flammable”.

What is he doing to stop invasive plants from taking over after a wildfire? After retiring from the BLM, he started growing plants such as yarrow flax and sagebrush, both of which take root in the ground after a fire and help to ward off invasive species from moving in. He now sells those seeds to wilderness management groups across the western U.S., in hopes that his efforts will help restore land that has been scorched by wildfires.

Erstrom notes that human intervention can only go so far. “A timely rainstorm in the spring can make a hero out of any restoration specialist”, he said. “Or the lack thereof can make him a villain. So it depends on which side you’re on when the rain comes.”


The original article was written by John Notarianni for OPB.
Read the full article here.

Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest to Take Part in Nationwide Invasive Species Project


Oregon’s Siuslaw National Forest is joining a nationwide effort to stop the spread of invasive species. This pilot program comes from the University of Georgia and collaborates with 12 other U.S. National Forests and Grasslands. This project is centered around an app that is free to download called “Wild Spotter”. It gives you information to help you identify, map, and report invasive species while you are trekking through your favorite wilderness areas. Chelsea Monks from the Siuslaw National Forest says volunteerism is crucial to large-scale scientific endeavors: “The public accesses land more than we can possibly do… so if we leverage that access and that use to help us track these invasive species, we will be able to respond quicker and hopefully get a handle on them faster”. This app will be the first inventory of its kind to spread nationwide.



The original article was written by Alec Cowan for KLCC, NPR for Oregonians.

Click here to read the full article.


Invasive Species in the News: Feral Swine Populations in OR Plummeting

The population of feral swine in Oregon has experienced a drastic decline in the past decade, from 3,000 individuals to around 200. This is due to the state declaring an open season on feral pigs. In 2001, state lawmakers reclassified the pigs from livestock to predatory animals, allowing them to be hunted without regulation. Though some may not think of the pigs as a dangerous invasive species, they can cause great damage to fish and wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, and protected riparian habitats.

 Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

In addition to damaging important habitat, they can also pose a serious health risk. Rick Boatner, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's Invasive Species Coordinator and Oregon Invasive Species Council member, called the pigs “walking disease factories”. They can carry up to 40 separate diseases that are dangerous to both humans and livestock. 

To help quantify populations, address specific populations of concern, and to follow Oregon law, report all feral pig sightings by calling the toll-free feral swine hotline: 1-888-268-9219. Please also visit the OISC Squeal on Pigs campaign page for more information about feral swine in Oregon.


The original article was written by the Associated Press with information from the Bend Bulletin.
Click here to read the full article.