Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ross Island

We were excited to find that the amazing Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership had a canoe trip in their big canoes to Ross Island, in the Willamette River just south of the Ross Island Bridge.  Some of Ross Island is now owned by the City of Portland, but most of the island still belongs to Ross Island Sand and Gravel Co.  There is a huge lagoon dug by the gravel company that is 100 feet deep in spots. Visitors to the island are only allowed access if they are part of a work party organized by the city or one of its parter conservation groups, although paddlers are allowed beach access only. This was an especially appealing opportunity to see the island for families, since the LCEP's big canoes are very stable and suitable for kids 5 and up.  Willamette Riverkeeper also organizes work crews throughout the summer.
We spent our time on the island uprooting garlic mustard and shiny geranium, two invasive weeds that have completely taken over the undergrowth. It was really eye opening to see the damage caused by these invasive plants.  The whole middle story occupied by shade loving shrubs that you will find in healthy Pacific Northwest forests has been decimated.  Native shrubs have been planted recently and it was our task to prevent invasive weeds from choking the new plantings. While we have a long way to go before Ross Island will be a great place for native plants, it's been a wonderfully undisturbed place for birds for a while now. There is a great blue heron rookery which has been used for years, and many other birds call the island home. 

Bald eagle.
Jasper and his garlic mustard.
Self-heal.
Anna's hummingbird.
Bird's-foot trefoil.
Moth mullien.
Foxglove.
Cottonwood tree fluff.

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