Parrot’s feather is an invasive weed that doesn’t belong in Clatsop County, but it’s not uncommon here. You can find it in several of our dune swale lake properties on the Warrenton peninsula, but it has particularly proliferated in a wetland we reengineered at our Clear Lake Habitat Reserve. From no parrot’s feather a couple of years ago, suddenly Clear Lake had a mass infestation. This exotic weed blocks sunlight and oxygen exchange and discourages native plant diversity, all of which can harm wildlife habitat.
Enter the Seasoned Stewards, the 2020 incarnation of the Wednesday Weed Warriors. In the absence of a summer stewardship intern crew, these experienced volunteers have dedicated many days this summer and fall helping NCLC stay ahead of particularly troublesome weeds on our lands. In June and July they tackled policeman’s helmet at Circle Creek, then they moved on to purple loosestrife at Wolf Bay, on the lower Columbia River. Most recently they have been pulling on their waders and pulling parrot’s feather at Clear Lake.
It’s no easy task. As Seasoned Steward Eric Halperin explained, it’s not hard to pull at the edge of the wetland, but the plant also grows deep in the water, where its roots form an interlocking net. Any small bit of stem or root left behind can propagate a new plant, so removing it from the water is a task both laborious and delicate. All the plant material removed is bagged and hauled out of the site—more heavy labor.
Due to their dedication, the wetland at Clear Lake has now been substantially cleared of this weed. We know it will be back; our hope is simply that, by returning work parties to Clear Lake every year, we will be able to keep it in check, if not entirely eradicate it. That kind of control will be possible thanks only to our dedicated volunteers.
One bonus, at least for Eric Halperin: it was just the excuse he needed to buy his own chest waders, essential when you’re weeding in thigh- and even waist-high water. Except where noted, these are Eric’s photographs documenting the project at Clear Lake.
Thank you to all our 2020 Seasoned Stewards: Penny Abegglen, Cheryl Conway, Frank Erickson, Eric Halperin, Vaughn Martin, Jeff Roehm, and Hope Stanton. Gina Kennedy, a VetsWork Fellow with Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, has also been helping pluck parrot’s feather.