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Sandy watershed council wraps up weed eradication

Summer crews removed crops of policeman's helmet

The first hints of fall mean the end to the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council’s summer weed work.

Over the past couple months, volunteers with the SRBWC worked hand in hand with the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District to reduce the spread of policeman’s helmet growth.

But this is not the first time the council has focused its efforts on the annual flowering invasive plant. For the past three summers, volunteers have worked to eradicate the plant from the Sandy River Basin.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Corinne Handelman of the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council shows the height of an invasive policemans helmet plant.

Corrine Handelman, community stewardship coordinator for the Watershed Council, said summer is the perfect time to take a break from planting and turn efforts to pulling up the invasive weeds that flower during the warmer months.

Last year, the council began focusing efforts on the Salmon River and upper Sandy River. This summer, SRBWC reached out to private property owners to identify and remove infestations of policeman’s helmet.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Policemans helmet can produce thousands of seeds per plant which are then propelled up to 20 feet away from the plant by exploding seed pods at the end of the season.

The plants, each of which can produce thousands of seeds, can grow to more than 8 feet tall each year.

Policeman’s helmet has exploding pods that can propel seeds up to 20 feet away from the plant.

“These traits make policeman’s helmet an aggressive invasive species since it can rapidly spread, especially near waterways in wetland areas,” Handelman said.

Many of the invasive plants on the council’s sites are adjacent to water where juvenile salmon are present.

The council surveyed 53 new properties along the Salmon River and upper Sandy this summer. Of the 128 total properties the council works on, 40 percent of them had policeman’s helmet populations that were removed this summer.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Policemans helmet starts off white and then darkens to a pink purple color.

If you live in the Sandy or Villages of Mt. Hood and find policeman’s helmet on your property, report it to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline at oregoninvasivehotline.org.

Local residents can receive free help from the Soil and Water Conservation District and the SRBWC with priority species.