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When I fell in love with and acquired a twenty-five acre forest parcel on the Luckiamute River in Western Oregon last spring, I thought it was amazingly free of invasive species. None of the English Ivy I hate so fiercely. Just a bit of Scotch broom—nothing we hadn’t seen and conquered previously on other acreages. No poison oak, thanks to being on the west side of a coast range ridge, just outside the oak savannah range. To me, it was a wonderland of wildflowers—the meadows blooming with wild roses, larkspur, columbine, Douglas iris and others.

What was I missing? Only the fact that I didn’t know Japanese Knotweed when I was wading through it. It turns out to be an incredibly invasive species, and our new land had plenty. No sooner had we signed the purchase agreement than we got a call from Peter Guillozet, manager of the Luckiamute River Enhancement Project. He offered the help of his grant-supported program to bring in teams of forestry workers to eradicate the weed and replant the streambanks. Since this is work we’d be trying to do ourselves anyway, we were glad for the help, pleased to learn that a coordinated effort was underway.

We were invited out to the charmingly named Happy Workers Club yesterday, an old one room school on Luckiamute Road, to meet our neighboring landowners and hear about efforts to eradicate this fast spreading weed. Peter gave a talk about this plant and showed frightening comparison maps of its spread in the UK and Ireland between 1900, when it was starting to be deliberately planted as a garden ornamental and 2006, by which time it had pretty much taken over the whole island. We’re talking old growth knotweed over there! Seriously, Peter said, the roots of this stuff could eventually eat your house. It could ruin the streams for fish.

But here in Oregon, we’re not going to let that happen. I just loved this meeting—a bunch of like-minded people getting together to figure out how to do the right thing. Few issues in life seem this straightforward: Japanese Knotweed is bad and we must get rid of it. Nobody disagrees. Everybody seems to just want to take care of their forests and be good stewards of the land.

A big thank you to the environmental foundations which are supporting this project—the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust. And thanks to the volunteers coordinating the effort.

I’m so happy my husband and I can be part of this.

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