During North Coast Land Conservancy’s summer field season, volunteers contributed nearly 400 hours of labor pulling weeds and collecting seeds to support stewardship of the organization’s habitat reserves on the Oregon Coast.
Weed Warrior Wednesdays (W³)—which run from May to September—enable NCLC staff to undertake a variety of seasonal projects with a few extra hands on deck.
This summer, NCLC held 19 Weed Warrior Wednesdays. Most of the volunteer days were focused on weed removal. For the final Weed Warrior Wednesday in September, volunteers helped collect sand dune sedge (Carex pansa) seed to support coastal partners through the Northwest Oregon Restoration Partnership (NORP). The plants grown at the NORP native plant nursery in Tillamook contribute to prairie restoration projects up and down the coast.
Frank Erickson removes invasive ivy to free the trees at NCLC’s Thompson Creek Habitat Reserve.
Twenty-eight volunteers attended throughout the course of the season, with many of them assisting a number of times (or as many as 13!). That accounted for 393 volunteer hours.
“We’re able to do a ton with volunteer help,” Land Steward Eric Owen says.
Here are a few other key statistics from the 2022 W³ season:
- Staff and volunteers worked at 11 different NCLC properties on the northern Oregon Coast.
- They did restoration in five different types of coastal habitat, including coastal prairie, riparian forest, tidal marsh, forested wetland, and scrub/shrub wetland.
- They targeted seven different invasive plant species: Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, Cutleaf blackberry, policeman’s helmet, purple loosestrife, and parrot’s feather.
NCLC started W³ in 2016, which makes this the seventh season of the program. Some of the volunteers have been returning since the beginning, although many were also new this year.
“It’s been an incredibly successful and rewarding program,” Stewardship Director Melissa Reich says.
Weed Warrior Cheryl Conway helps collect seeds at Surf Pines Habitat Reserve in September.
For the W³ program, staff and volunteers primarily focus on reoccurring annual projects that are part of NCLC’s regular maintenance of its habitat reserves on the Oregon Coast. Projects tend to coincide with plant phenology, or the timing of plant life-cycle events, such as flowering and fruiting.
For example, Scotch broom is tackled in the spring, because it is beneficial to remove the plants before they go to seed in the summer. Meanwhile, policeman’s helmet goes to seed in August, so it’s pulled in June and July.
“You’re helping to keep those habitats in good shape, helping to make sure the native plants have a chance to thrive and maintaining species diversity,” Eric says.
In addition to Weed Warrior Wednesdays, NCLC hosted a few other stewardship days that were open to the public and a couple of days of road maintenance in the Rainforest Reserve. They received support from at least 20 additional volunteers for these special events.
Volunteer opportunities with NCLC’s stewardship program not only enable people to contribute to coastal conservation and get outdoors with like-minded folks, but they also can serve as a “vehicle to get people brought into the organization,” Eric says.
NCLC volunteer Marilynn Blacketer helps remove Scotch broom during a Weed Warrior Wednesday in May.