Spartina is an invasive plant that found its way to Cox Island from the East Coast and chokes out native plants that support the island's wildlife.Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard
COX ISLAND - On a piece of land where most Oregonians have likely never stepped, on the last day of summer, Nature Conservancy Nature Conservancy, nonprofit organization established in 1951 to preserve or aid in the preservation of natural environments. It protects wilderness areas in the United States and Canada and is affiliated with similar groups in Latin America and the Caribbean. volunteer David Pickering does what he calls the "Cox Island shuffle."
"Watch for tidal channels," warns Pickering, an organic farmer from Otis.
This 187-acre chunk of property along the Siuslaw River The Siuslaw River (pronounced sigh YOU slaw) is a river, approximately 110 mi (177 km) long, along the Pacific coast of Oregon in the United States. It drains an area of approximately 4560 sq mi (11900 km²) in the Central Oregon Coast Range southwest of the Willamette , a couple of miles east of Florence, near the community of Cushman, is where the Siuslaw tribe of American Indians American Indians: see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of the; Natives, Middle American; Natives, North American; Natives, South American. once used tidal flats to plant and grow soft-shell clams; where lumber companies once floated their rafts of logs; where an aspiring author once gazed in fascination at, and later found inspiration from, an old house; and where volunteers such as Pickering now traipse carefully, working to blot out an unwanted visitor.
It's called Spartina Noun 1. Spartina - grass of freshwater swamps and salt marshes of Europe, Africa, America, and South Atlantic islands
liliopsid genus, monocot genus - genus of flowering plants having a single cotyledon (embryonic leaf) in the seed patens, also known as saltmeadow cordgrass Saltmeadow Cordgrass (Spartina patens), also known as Salt Hay Grass, is a species of cordgrass native to the Atlantic coast of the Americas from Newfoundland, Canada south along the United States east coast to the Caribbean and northeast Mexico. - a noxious, invasive plant native to the Atlantic coast that found its way here probably a century ago.
Since launching an all-out assault in 1998, the Nature Conservancy, owner of the island preserve since 1977, believes it has eliminated most of the Spartina, which has been found in Oregon only on Cox Island and crowds out native plants and eliminates wildlife habitat.
"If allowed to grow and persist, it would basically became a monoculture mon·o·cul·ture
1. The cultivation of a single crop on a farm or in a region or country.
2. A single, homogeneous culture without diversity or dissension. and drive out the native vegetation," says Stephen Anderson, a spokesman for the Nature Conservancy office in Portland.
"Never give an inch"
On a warm, dry September "Dry September" is a short story by William Faulkner. Published in 1931, it describes a lynch mob forming (despite ambiguous evidence) on a hot September evening. Told in five parts, the story includes the perspective of the rumored victim and the mob's leader. Saturday, project manager Toby St. Clair leads Pickering and two other volunteers onto the island that he has visited almost every day the past two summers.
The island is a salt-marsh estuary with beds of eel eel, common name for any fish of the 10 families constituting the order Anguilliformes, and characterized by a long snakelike body covered with minute scales embedded in the skin. grass and rare plants including Henderson's checkermallow. It is home to mudflats teeming teem 1
v. teemed, teem·ing, teems
1. To be full of things; abound or swarm: A drop of water teems with microorganisms.
2. with soft-shell clams and shrimp, and more than 80 species of birds and waterfowl waterfowl, common term for members of the order Anseriformes, wild, aquatic, typically freshwater birds including ducks, geese, and screamers. In Great Britain the term is also used to designate species kept for ornamental purposes on private lakes or ponds, while in .
The island passed from the hands of the Siuslaw Indians to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. government, then to a man named John Lyle in 1884. Lyle sold it to a ship captain named William Cox People named William Cox include:
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a study of the island done 30 years ago by the Nature Conservancy. The international conservation organization eventually inherited the island from its last private owner, timber company Champion International.
The island is probably best known as the home of the Benedict House, the long-vacant 105-year-old clapboard clapboard (klăb`ərd), board used for the exterior finish of a wood-framed building and attached horizontally to the wood studs. The word, in its original and strict use, refers to a product of New England; boards of similar type made elsewhere house that still stands, barely, and was the late author Ken Kesey's inspiration for the Stamper house in his 1963 novel, "Sometimes a Great Notion."
But it is the work of the 23-year-old St. Clair, a Massachusetts native and environmental science graduate from Southern California's Pitzer College - who has never read that piece of classic Pacific Northwest literature (although he did recently see the 1971 film of the same name) - other Nature Conservancy employees and at least 100 volunteers over the years that is the island's great notion now.
Like Hank Stamper, the stubborn hero of Kesey's epic, who vowed to "never give an inch," the agency wants to protect this slice of nature for generations to come.
"In the Siuslaw, there's not a lot of salt marsh left, so we feel that Cox Island is a very important part of the Siuslaw watershed," says Debbie Pickering, David's wife and Oregon Coast steward ecologist for the Nature Conservancy.
"Some people never come back"
Debbie Pickering has been to Cox Island countless times since she first started coming as a volunteer in 1984. Back then, the Spartina was everywhere, growing from three patches in 1939 into entire lawns of the stuff.
There were probably 10 acres of it by the 1980s, says David Pickering, a man with a bushy bush·y
adj. bush·i·er, bush·i·est
1. Overgrown with bushes.
2. Thick and shaggy: a bushy head of hair. salt-and-pepper mustache and a ready grin. Since then, about six acres have been restored to native salt marsh, and the other four acres are still covered with a black landscape fabric that kills the Spartina after about two years.
This is a method the Pickerings discovered at Dosewallips State Park in Washington, on the western side of Puget Sound, in about 1990. Spartina grows there, too, as well as some spots in California. The Nature Conservancy believes it was introduced in the early 1900s on the West Coast in packing materials of East Coast clams.
Finding volunteers to work on the island is not easy.
"Some people like it a lot," David Pickering says. "And some people never come back. It's just too harsh." In fact, a volunteer of the year for the Nature Conservancy came one August, never to show his face here again, Pickering says. The young man complained of heatstroke heatstroke, profound disturbance of the heat-regulating mechanism of the body, also known as sunstroke. It is characterized by extremely high body temperatures and sometimes by convulsions and coma. .
Conditions are harsh on the island. "People fall all the time," St. Clair says. In addition to the threat of your entire leg sinking into a tide channel, where fingerling fingerling
young fish. coho salmon Coho salmon
oncorhynchuskisutch. like to hide out during storms, the wind blows fast and hard, and the vegetation is hip-deep in some places.
"Start walkin' on it, and it feels like a thousand acres," says Kirby Hansen, who runs Kirby's Place, the fish-and-tackle store at the Siuslaw Marina on Highway 126 about a mile east of the island. He's delivering the volunteers in his small motor boat, past century-old wooden pilings on the island's northwestern edge.
"Completely cooked mud"
Along with volunteers Carrie Laing of Portland and Cecilia Romo of Astoria, Pickering and St. Clair carry buckets of gutter spikes, which look like giant nails, about a mile inland after Hansen drops them by boat in the soft morning light.
Out in the middle of the island, a large patchwork of the black landscape fabric awaits, pieces strewn strew
tr.v. strewed, strewn or strewed, strew·ing, strews
1. To spread here and there; scatter: strewing flowers down the aisle.
2. together over mounds of Spartina and nailed down tightly with the gutter spikes.
"It's just completely cooked mud," David Pickering says of what the ground where the Spartina once lay looks like after the fabric is lifted.
Herbicides were once used on the Spartina, but didn't work, says St. Clair, who lives in a U.S. Forest Service work camp in Mapleton. And pulling the weed out of the ground is no surefire method, either, he says. "You can never know if you're getting it all."
If the Spartina here is not contained, the Nature Conservancy fears it could spread to other estuaries up and down the coast, from the Columbia River to the Coquille River.
"The key with invasive species is to get to it early," Debbie Pickering says.
St. Clair took three work parties out this summer for all-day Saturday sessions, and he works on the island Monday through Friday with at least one other seasonal employee or volunteer between June and October. Dealing with the Spartina is now "mop-up" work, covering newly discovered patches here and there, mowing them down and covering them as they're found.
Funding for the Spartina project has come primarily from four sources, Debbie Pickering says. That includes the Siuslaw Stewardship Fund, a partnership between the Forest Service and groups working in the Siuslaw basin; the Community-Based Restoration Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Noun 1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - an agency in the Department of Commerce that maps the oceans and conserves their living resources; predicts changes to the earth's environment; provides weather reports and forecasts floods and hurricanes and ; the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Noxious Weed Control Program; and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board.
All of these grants have helped the Nature Conservancy care for a rare island wedged between the clear-cut hills to the south and the hum of traffic on Highway 126 to the north.
As for St. Clair, who hopes to get into graduate school at Virginia Tech University to study shorebirds, whether he'll be back for a third summer on the island is undecided. David Pickering marvels that the young man who hails, like the Spartina, from the East Coast, has made it through two summers.
"And you haven't lost your mind yet, have you?" Pickering says to St. Clair. "You're not like the Stampers out here, losin' it."
"Never give an inch!" Romo says.
Spartina is an invasive plant that found its way to Cox Island from the East Coast and chokes out native plants that support the island's wildlife. "Start walkin' on it, and it feels like a thousand acres." - KIRBY HANSEN, DELIVERS VOLUNTEERS TO COX ISLAND A crew of volunteers battles Spartina, an invasive plant that grows on the Siuslaw River's Cox Island, by covering areas with landscape fabric. Thomas Boyd / The Register-Guard