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May 13, 2020

Social Distancing with a side of Garlic Mustard

Dakota Tangredi, Marissa Eckman, Jessica Huang, Abby Kaplan, Drew Donahue, and Noah Jenkins getting ready for their first garlic mustard field day while maintaining 6 feet

As most of our volunteer events have been canceled due to the current health crisis, this, unfortunately, does not cancel invasive species that have been overrunning Johnson Creek Watershed.

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is a prevalent invasive species in the watershed with alarming impacts on other plants. This weed is known to be allelopathic. The garlic mustard roots produce chemicals that are toxic to other plants, which aids its rapid spread. This can prevent the establishment of other plants and allows garlic mustard to completely dominate the understory.

Johnson Creek Watershed Council has been combating this weed since 2009 and continues every year to remove it from the watershed. Recently, JCWC has been the only organization in Portland solely hand pulling the weed and has seen great results from this practice. In order to hand pull the copious amounts of garlic mustard, JCWC recruits passionate invasive species removal interns every year to help reduce the spread of this weed. This work is extremely important to keep garlic mustard levels low and one missed year could be detrimental to all previous years’ work.

Staff at JCWC were very concerned about being able to host garlic mustard interns this year and missing an entire year for garlic mustard. Fortunately, Confluence Americorps members stepped up to the challenge and participated in garlic mustard removal for 2020! These interns participated in JCWC’s first-ever online orientation and have been doing an amazing job pulling garlic mustard while following social distancing protocols. 

Abby Kaplan pulling garlic mustard in SE Portland. She has already put in 40 hours of work in just less than a month!

These fierce members have been putting hours into keeping Johnson Creek healthy and have already cleared garlic mustard from Gresham to I-205, in a short span of under a month–a new record! With their masks on, 6 feet of distance, personal tools and gloves, and with high spirits; these Americorps members continue the garlic mustard removal legacy and build on the efforts of past interns and staff.

Thank you so much to all of the members who are helping us and practicing safe social distancing. We deeply appreciate your efforts and are extremely proud of the work you have done!