Shiny Geranium Update

Paul Snoey and Tevis Laspa began digging out the geraniums at the post office a few weeks ago and on Sunday they finished.  No doubt a few more plants will still come up.   Most of the geraniums on the north side of Pioneer between the roundabout and downtown have been removed.  The rest will be removed with the help of a public works employee.  Of the four acres on Les Greear’s property, four of us plan on treating it twice.

Keith Rutz, the Habitat Restoration Coordinator with the Friends of the Refuge, says that shiny geranium was located and treated in the Carty Unit last year.  He states it is spreading in the refuge along deer trails.  He will return in March and begin treating again.

The surveys done so far have only shown a very limited presence in Ridgefield, so the efforts to contain it seem reasonable.  If the efforts are successful then it makes sense to continue.  If this plant is still expanding in our area then it would not be worth any further effort.

This plant could have a very negative impact on both Allen Canyon Creek and Gee Creek Watersheds.  It is a bit like a little green tsunami, covering the ground so densely nothing else can grow.  According to the US Department of Agriculture, once established, it is unlikely that shiny geranium can be eliminated.    Information from Paul Snoey

Weather update from Paul Snoey

I have not seen a single robin since Wednesday.  Nor have I seen a chickadee
or some of the other local birds.   I’ve put out water and food for the last
several days as the web sites suggested. The food is quickly gobbled up by
crows and starlings.

Next, in all this mess, is heavy rain and warming expected Tuesday.   This
afternoon the National weather Service issued a flood watch for our area
from Tuesday morning through Wednesday evening.  I don’t think we are going
to have it too bad in Ridgefield but there could be a problem with stream
bank erosion.   The photo below, taken this afternoon, is of a section of
Gee Creek with active stream bank erosion. –Paul

Help the Birds

The snow storm that hit Tuesday evening was the largest we’ve had in several years.   It left a foot of snow on the ground in the Ridgefield area, closed schools and public offices, and with the continued cold will likely last until midweek next week.

The photo above is of a robin eating fruits from a tree on Pioneer Street.  These fruits have been available for several months and are only now being eaten.  It suggests that they are only being eaten because the birds have little choice.

It’s the same thing with berries on holly trees.  During prolonged periods of cold with snow on the ground some holly bushes in Ridgefield have been stripped of their berries.  The fruits may not have the nutritional value that more available foods may have.

Fruits remaining on trees can ferment after the first frost and become toxic.   Deep snow means a challenge to wildlife that cannot forage for food on the ground.  Robins eat fruit but also worms, insects, and spiders. Robins don’t feed from bird feeders but will take food scattered on the ground.   The Audubon society recommends putting out foods such as chopped apples, grapes, and raisins.  They will take meal worms that can be purchased in pet stores as well.

Since the deep snow and cold are going to last for a time, it makes sense to help wildlife by putting out food for them.  Scott and Kathy Hughes have food for birds and squirrels at the hardware store and Petco has mealworms.  Robins and other birds need a water source to drink and bathe so if it’s not too cold a birdbath can provide water.  An upside down garbage can lid filled with water works as temporary birdbath.

Thanks to Paul Snoey for this information.

Shiny Geranium a Threat

This fall the road through the woods to Allen Canyon Creek through Les Greear’s Ranch suddenly turned bright green with the autumn rains.  It has been taken over by a small weed called shiny geranium which is something new in Ridgefield.  Not only has it appeared suddenly but it has taken over several acres.

Shiny Geranium - close up

Shiny Geranium – close up

This plant has only been in the Pacific Northwest for a couple of decades but is rapidly expanding its range in both Oregon and Washington.  It is a threat to natural areas because it can crowd out native vegetation. The seeds appear during our fall rains.

In Ridgefield it was discovered in the landscaping at the post office north parking lot and two adjacent properties.  On Pioneer Street it is begun establishing itself west of the 45th Avenue roundabout to the Gee Creek Bridge.

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A search for it in the rest of town and south of town has not shown a single plant.  Because it is only in a few places so far there is a good chance there can be some control if it can be eliminated.  We have notified the city of its presence and Clark County Weed Management.

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The Post Office has given us permission to have volunteers remove it by hand and I have written a property owner on Pioneer for permission to remove it from his property. If this plant can be eliminated from the Pioneer Street right-of-way and from the few properties where it’s been found, then there is a chance it can be prevented from spreading.  If it gets into natural areas such as along Gee Creek it could take over vulnerable areas and be very difficult to remove.

Clark County has produced a brochure:  Shiny geranium brochure (PDF)

Written by Paul Snoey

Cooper’s Hawk

coopers-hawk

From Paul Snoey:

If you drive up Bertsinger Rd, andclimb up the hill After a few turns, there is a house on a corner that has a gazebo in the front yard.

In driving by last week-end I saw a large bird fly across the yard and land on the railing.  It was a hawk and it was excited.  It flew from side to side across the gazebo and even flew down to the floor twice and jumped around.  It was staring intently at the ground both inside and outside the gazebo.  It was on the hunt.  After several minutes it gave up and flew away.

The refuge office helped to identify the hawk from the photos as a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk.  It looks very much like its cousin the Sharp-Shinned Hawk and the two young hawks are hard to tell apart.  Both birds are agile predators of small birds.   They both have learned to stay near bird feeders much to the dismay of bird lovers who put out food to attract song birds.

Who knows what this hawk was after but there were many walnut shells on the railing and Coopers do sometimes take squirrels.

Clear Water in Allen Canyon Creek

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The photo above is of Allen Canyon Creek at the bottom of Allen Canyon.  The photo was taken Tuesday morning October 18th.  It was a pleasant surprise to see it running so clean and clear after the heavy rains we’ve had.

The new housing subdivisions near Pioneer and N 45th Ave are in the Allen Canyon Creek watershed.  The clean water is in part due to proper erosion control practices and properly functioning storm water facilities.  Doing things right makes for healthy watersheds and streams so that’s pleasing.  In a few weeks a few Coho may return to the site where Les Greear maintains an incubator.

Allen Canyon Creek is a very small stream that now dries up with the summer drought.   That is the most serious problem this creek has.   There are several dams with ponds upstream which provide water for stock and for homeowner’s enjoyment.

It’s possible that by working with the owners of these ponds flows can be restored. Even a small flow would make a difference.

Construction of new Storm Water Main Begins

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Tapani Underground has begun replacing the 12” storm water pipe that serves the north end of old town with a 24” pipe.

The larger pipe size will prevent flooding and will allow more connections to be made to improve drainage.  There will be no treatment of the storm water on this section and that is disappointing.

Public works director Bryan Kast has stated the new line is being built in such a way as to make installing a treatment facility easier at a later time.  If things had been done differently, however, upsizing the line and having treatment could have been part of the same project and the costs would be much lower.

The improvement in water quality will have to wait.  —Paul Snoey