District pest plan focuses on early detection, rapid response

The classical biocontrol organism larinus minutes (knapweed weevil) was introduced by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and established in Oregon, including at Fern Ridge Reservoir. (Photo by Wes Messinger, Willamette Valley Project)

The classical biocontrol organism larinus minutes (knapweed weevil) was introduced by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and established in Oregon, including at Fern Ridge Reservoir. (Photo by Wes Messinger, Willamette Valley Project)

 

A commentary by Shelly Hanson, Natural Resources Management 

Invasive animal and plant species impact Portland District’s missions, including navigation, flood control, recreation, environmental stewardship and ecosystem restoration. Such species interfere with harbor and waterway maintenance; affect operation of dam and navigation lock systems; displace native plants and wildlife; and further impair rare, threatened and endangered species.

It’s our policy integrated pest management at its projects around Oregon and southwest Washington in ways that provide for the safety of the environment, the public and the pesticide applicator. Employees, contractors and volunteers must be licensed and trained to apply pesticides on our lands.

Portland District Commander Col. Jose Aguilar has designated the Natural Resources Management Section’s environmental stewardship program manager as the point of contact for management of its pest control program. We review all actual and proposed pesticide use requests from operating projects and outgrants, and assure that all pesticide applications – particularly those in or near waters and wetlands of the United State – are completed in compliance with applicable federal laws, including the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.

Cleaning stations at popular trailheads along the Rogue River call visitors to action in the fight against invasive species. Wade Martin points out to his mother, Carolina, a spot on his shoe that could contain seeds from invasive species. Katie the family dog also waits to be brushed off. (Photos by Chad Stuart, Rogue River Basin Project)

Cleaning stations at popular trailheads along the Rogue River call visitors to action in the fight against invasive species. Wade Martin points out to his mother, Carolina, a spot on his shoe that could contain seeds from invasive species. Katie the family dog also waits to be brushed off. (Photo by Chad Stuart, Rogue River Basin Project)

We rely on early detection and response to prevent and control aquatic invasive species. All of our Columbia River projects have conducted vulnerability assessments, and sample regularly for the presence of invasive zebra and quagga mussels in partnership with Portland State University.

We work with the 100th Meridian Initiative, a cooperative effort between local, state, provincial, regional and federal agencies to prevent the westward spread of zebra/quagga mussels and other aquatic nuisance species in North America, to prevent zebra and quagga mussels from becoming established in dam infrastructure.

We have also signed memorandums of understanding with three regional cooperative weed management associations and some local weed management boards. These partnerships of local, state and federal agencies coordinate weed management actions taken by individual agencies to accomplish more effective invasive weed control.

Individual operating projects have developed “good neighbor” relationships with local weed management groups and watershed councils for noxious and invasive weed control. They have implemented local measures – like boot cleaning stations at trailheads – to help visitors prevent the spread of invasive plants. They partner with other federal agencies, participate in “pull together” events, and work with local volunteers to manage invasive species at the projects.

Our ultimate goal is long-term prevention of damage and eradication of pests. It won’t be easy, but we’re developing a District-wide Integrated Pest Management Plan with a focus on early detection of and rapid response to new pests, and long-term management and control of established invasive species.

The plan approaches pest control by focusing on identifying and wisely using the proper management tools, including mechanical/physical, cultural and biological measures, as well as pesticides, where appropriate, to limit the spread of invasive, noxious and exotic species on Corps lands. If we determine pesticides are the best tool, licensed applicators apply the optimal amount to reduce the potential for resistance and minimize the frequency of applications needed.