Swampathon 2019!

August 10, 2019

Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11
Blind Slough Swamp Habitat Reserve
Lower Columbia River, east of Astoria

7/30 update: There’s still room for participants with their own canoe; there might still be room in one of our boats. You must contact Melissa if you wish to take part (see below).

Spend the weekend at Blind Slough Swamp Habitat Reserve ridding the rare Sitka spruce swamp of purple loosestrife and English ivy. After years of collaborative stewardship, this former Nature Conservancy preserve was recently transferred to North Coast Land Conservancy. 

Invasive purple loosestrife grows along the lower Columbia 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.  Read more about purple loosestrife. English ivy grows up the ancient Sitka spruce that grow on the hummocks in the swamp. Ivy grows into the 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 old as 400 years and many of which support eagle nests. Help us free these trees from ivy, and listen for the rumored breath of gratitude that follows each release.

Our annual Swampathon weekend will see us attacking both loosestrife and English ivy by canoes. Saturday we will work at the Big Creek unit of the preserve from 1 to 5 pm, while the tide is out, allowing us to paddle under the railroad trestle. The work in this area we will be mostly focused on English ivy, but we will be ready to also attack any observed purple loosestrife. On Sunday we will paddle upstream on larger side channels of the Columbia to attack loosestrife growing at the water’s edge from 9 am to 4 pm. Volunteers are welcome to camp together and share dinner Saturday night.

This important 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. Wear rubber boots and gloves and wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and other clothes approriate for canoeing and for working in thick, thorny underbrush. NCLC will provide the needed tools. Bring your own drinking water and lunches; dinner and breakfast will be provided to overnight campers. Bring a sleeping bag and pad if you plan to spend the night. There are no toilets or potable water at our work sites.

Registration is limited to 16 people due to boat capacity (8 canoes).   To sign up, please contact NCLC Stewardship Director Melissa Reich at 503-738-9126, melissar@nclctrust.org. Melissa will share directions and camping details.

Swampathon is a partnership with The Nature Conservancy.