Invasive Plant Swampathon

August 10, 2019 - 1:00 PM
Blind Slough Swamp
Knappa, OR
North Coast Land Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy

Pulling Purple Loosestrife at Blind Slough.|Photo courtesy of NCLC.

A lot of restoration efforts take place in the Oregon coastal region, and we aren’t able to cover all of the in this calendar.  But one that is coming up is of particular interest, and poses an interesting challenge.  The North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) is seeking volunteers for a two-day stewardship known as Swampathon 2019. 

NCLC’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 invasive species out of Blind Slough Swamp by canoe.  More volunteers are being sought to take part.  The 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 other coastal watersheds) 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 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.  (Those in other areas of the coast take note—ivy threatens trees in many coastal areas.)

On Saturday volunteers will attack ivy in the Big Creek unit of the habitat reserve from 1 to 5 p.m., while the tide is out. On Sunday those volunteers will paddle upstream on larger side channels of the Columbia to attack loosestrife growing at the water’s edge from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are welcome to camp together at Brownsmead Grange and share dinner Saturday night.

The 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 To sign up and receive directions and camping details, contact NCLC Stewardship Director Melissa Reich at 503-738-9126 or