Invasive invaders

  On a rainy spring day in western Oregon, five volunteers, clad in raingear and heavy work gloves, slowly work their way up the southeast flank of Mount Pisgah, a tract of private land looming above the Willamette River. Led by Kyra Kelly of the nonprofit Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah, the volunteers cut back invasive species like six-foot-high Scotch broom and blackberry bush, revealing stunted, suffocated oaks they didn't even know were there.


The group was started in 1989, when some local hikers and community leaders realized non-native plants and animals were overrunning the mountain's native ecosystem.


"With invasive species, a small problem can become a big problem fast," says Jason Blazer, restoration coordinator for the group. "What's been happening here is basic neglect."


These lands are important to protect, says Ed Alverson of The Nature Conservancy, because Mount Pisgah is the largest remaining site for open prairie, oak savanna, and oak woodlands in the Willamette Valley.


Along with their weekly outings to the area to chop back invasive brush, the group's 138 volunteers hunt invasive bullfrogs with flashlights and spears in the middle of the night, destroying their eggs; they also trap and euthanize feral cats. The group is planting a floodplain with cottonwoods to restore a river channeled by levees to its natural, braided form. To get involved, contact Friends of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah at 541/344-8350, or e-mail them at [email protected].

Copyright © 2001 HCN and Melynda Coble

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