Please join your hosts, Marion County Master Gardeners,  Marion Soil and Water Conservation District, and Paul Stormo for an informal discussion on native companion plantings for the urban garden on November 3rd.The talk will focus on wet/sun, wet/ shade, dry/sun and dry/shade planting areas and how to incorporate pollinator friendly species into these types of planting areas.  Paul is a graduate of Oregon State University and the owner of Champoeg Nursery, Inc., a wholesale nursery he started in 2002 that specializes in plants native to the Pacific and Inland Northwest. 

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Salmon Watch on the North Santiam
by Ron Crouse
With the arrival of Fall comes the annual salmon migration to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and the return of students to the education institutions of Marion County. For us at the Marion SWCD it means another active season for our Salmon Watch program. This will be our 12th annual offering of these popular presentations. The end of the line for returning anadromous fish on the North Santiam river is the Minto fish capture facility downstream from Detroit dam. The gravel beds in the river adjacent to Packsaddle County Park offer a perfect habitat for adult salmon to build their nests, termed “redds” and lay their eggs. This creates an excellent opportunity for students to view spawning salmon up-close and personal, something never experienced by most of our students. Many are high school students studying biology and are considered at-risk. These field trips would not be possible due to transportation cost if not for funding through the District’s Conservation Learning Education and Resources (CLEAR) grant program.
Students and teachers do so much more than just observe the spawning salmon. The four-hour program consists of students rotating through four learning stations. There is a salmon biology class where they learn about the two species of salmon and the steelhead that spawn in the river. Their lifecycle is covered, and the newly hatched salmon are sent on a hypothetical journey to the ocean and back, attempting to navigate all the hazards along the way.

A class on the structure and importance of the riparian habitat zone is included. This covers the native plants found in the park and how the habitat benefits the salmon by filtering and cooling the water. Students learn how to take tree measurements using a traditional forester’s stick.

Water quality must also be measured. Chemical analysis is completed using water quality test kits. Five parameters are measured; temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and nitrate and phosphate contamination. These measurements are compared to the Oregon standards for salmon and steelhead and the river is given a grade AA, A or B or below. The North Santiam at Packsaddle should be a AA for successful spawning, and generally is close.

The biological health needs to be tested and students do this by conducting a macroinvertebrate survey. Each species of aquatic insect has a certain tolerance to water quality, be it high, low or moderate. Using aquatic nets, they wade the river to disturb the stream bed. This dislodges the insects adhering to and living under the rocks, being careful to avoid any salmon redds. The bugs are caught in the nets as they drift downstream and then are identified. As most macros have a one to three-year lifespan before their adult stage, this tells us what the water quality has been over the long-term.

All this information is summarized at the end of each program. The students gain a deeper and more expansive understanding of the salmon and their requirements for survival and reproduction. They also realize that in Salem we take our drinking water from the North Santiam and we, like the salmon, are dependent on clear, cold, free-flowing water. We are lucky to have such a valuable and accessible teaching resource in Marion County and hope that future students will learn from the salmon for many generations to come.

Please Welcome Marion SWCD’s Newest Employee!
Jenny Ammon
Natural Resources Educator x 334
The District recently hired a new employee, Jenny Ammon who will succeed Ron Crouse as the new Natural Resources Educator for Marion SWCD.  Ron Crouse has served in the position for 12 years and will retire from the District at the end of 2018. The District is lucky to still have Crouse on board to help train Ammon in her new position.  The District hired Ammon because of her many years of experience working in natural resources education primarily in Iowa before moving to Oregon and is excited to add such a talented and resourceful employee to their staff!  Please read Ammon’s story below and feel free to call or email her and introduce yourself.

Jenny was raised in beautiful Northeast Iowa near the mighty Mississippi River.  She attended and graduated Kirkwood Community College with her A.A.S. Degree in Parks and Natural Resources.  Following Kirkwood, she attended and graduated Upper Iowa University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Biology.  Throughout her education she was working in parks and natural areas in internship positions.

She worked as an Environmental Educator for County Conservation Boards (Cedar and Dubuque County) in Iowa for 12 years.  Most recently, she worked as Angler and Aquatic Education Coordinator for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.  She enjoys working with the public, she enjoys sharing her passion for natural resources, and she looks forward to building partnerships and relationships right here in Marion County.

She enjoys fishing, hiking, camping, reading, birdwatching and visiting her family and friends back in Iowa when time allows.  She feels blessed to be living and working among some of the most gorgeous landscapes and deeply humbled by the community-mindedness in the Salem area.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
  • Reducing water temperature to natural levels
  • Reducing the sediment and nutrient pollution from agricultural land adjacent to streams
  • Restoring stream bank vegetation to a properly functioning condition
  • Stabilizing stream banks to normal non-flood conditions
Healthy Riparian Buffers:
  • Create shade to keep streams cool for native fish
  • Provide leaves, twigs and logs for aquatic insects and fish habitat
  • Provide habitat for wildlife species
  • Stabilize and protect soil from scour erosion
  • Reduce downstream flooding
  • Protect water quality by filtering runoff of sediment and contaminants

CREP is for:
Landowners who have a perennial or seasonal stream running through or bordering their property (ditches may qualify in some cases)
  • Landowners with weed-dominated stream banks and/or erosion concerns
  • Landowners who want to establish native trees and shrubs and improve the aesthetics of their property
  • Landowners who want to attract more wildlife and pollinators
Payments and Incentives
CREP participants receive financial and technical assistance in exchange for establishing and maintaining riparian buffers or filter strips. A qualified technician will develop a site plan for your specific needs, at no cost. 
Cash payments include:
  • Cost-share (up to 75%) for site preparation and installation costs, such as invasive species removal, fencing, planting, and labor.
  • Annual rental and maintenance payments (varies by county and crop history). Premium rates for irrigated land available (participant must temporarily lease water rights for enrolled area to state for in-stream use).
  • Sign-up bonus and payment for completing conservation practices.
  • Bonus payment equaling four times the annual rental payment when at least half of a five-mile stream reach is enrolled.
Program Flexibility
  • Enroll at any time
  • Contract terms of 10 to 15 years available
  • Buffer widths can range from 35 feet to 180 feet
  • Continue annual payments with re-enrollment
Eligible land includes cropland or pastureland along a stream. Lands classified as forest or woodland are not eligible. Applicant must have owned or operated the property for at least one year. Applicant’s average adjusted gross income must not exceed $900,000.  

Interested in Learning More?
If you would like a technician to walk your stream with you to evaluate and discuss a potential CREP project, contact Josh Togstad, CREP Technician for Marion & Yamhill counties, at Phone: 503-376-7602, Email:
CREP Example Payment:  5 acres, 10 year contract
Conservation Grants and Cost Share Programs
Conservation of our District’s natural resources is a complex task. Sometimes the most effective way to advance our goals and program work is to help support others in doing the work. The Marion SWCD has several Grants and Cost Share programs available as a way to provide our landowners and partners with the financial and technical resources to tackle diverse conservation projects and conservation education within our District.

Conservation Learning Education and Resources Grant - CLEAR
The Marion SWCD Conservation Learning Education and Resources (CLEAR) Grant advances the mission of the District by providing funding to support conservation education and community events that promote natural resource conservation. Eligible applicants include nonprofits, schools, and community organizations.

Eligible projects address water quality and conservation, soil quality and conservation, and/or sustainable land use. Projects must be located within the Marion SWCD boundary and directly benefit citizens of the District.

The maximum payment awarded is $1,000 per application. Applicant and project/event eligibility, approval or denial of applications, and dollar amounts awarded are determined at the discretion of the District.

Deadline for applying: complete applications are considered by the Board at their next regular Board Meeting. Contact Ron Crouse, District Education and Outreach Coordinator, at Phone: (503) 391-9927 ext. 316 or send e-mail to
Landowner Assistance Program – LAP
Marion SWCD’s Landowner Assistance Program (LAP) is intended to assist landowners/operators with the costs of installing conservation practices on their land. Priority will be given to applications which implement practices that help meet local goals limiting Non-Point Agricultural Source pollution and as outlined in our current Official LAP Team Priorities document. Conservation practices not of an agricultural nature will also be considered but may not be as a high priority.

The maximum payment awarded to a successful grant application is $7,500. Marion SWCD will reimburse 50% of the project cost, up to $7,500. Applicant is required to provide a minimum of 50% of the project funds, which can be provided as labor, supplies and materials, equipment, and production costs. Financial assistance con-currently attained from other sources can be used towards the 50% match.

Next deadline for applying: must
contact a Marion SWCD Planner by December 1, 2018 to be eligible to apply for the January 15, 2019 grant cycle.
Special Projects Grants – SPG
The Special Projects Grant (SPG) supports projects that provide examples of practices that, if widely adopted, could solve a local area resource concern through either new and innovative technologies or proven but under-represented technologies. Projects should include conservation practices or best management practices (BMPs) that solve a specific natural resource issue (such as erosion, weed control, overgrazing, etc.).

The maximum payment awarded to a successful grant application is $7,500. Marion SWCD will reimburse 50% of the project cost, up to $7,500. Applicant is required to provide a minimum of 50% of the project funds, which can be provided as labor, supplies and materials, equipment, and production costs. Financial assistance con-currently attained from other sources can be used towards the 50% match.
Deadline for applying: contact a Marion SWCD Planner to develop an application; complete applications are considered by the Board at their next regular Board Meeting.
OWEB Small Grants
A competitive grant program that awards funds of up to $15,000 for on-the-ground restoration projects that benefit aquatic species, wildlife or watershed health. This program requires at least 25% secured match funding. Landowners/operators work cooperatively with the SWCD to be eligible for this program.  Contact a SWCD planner to learn more.
Additional Funding Resources
Additional resources may also be available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), your local energy provider (projects related to energy efficiency), and your local watershed council.  Contact a SWCD planner to learn more.
Got Manure?
by Meredith Hoffman
Horses, cows, sheep, pigs, llamas. . . then yes, you have manure.  Good news! If you live in the Mill Creek Watershed or Marion County there is a program to help you handle your animal waste and help your neighbors.

The Manure Exchange Program allows you to share manure with others.  Why share your manure?  It gets manure off your farm and onto land that needs it and you are recycling a natural resource.  Why do we care? It’s one of Marion Soil and Water Conservation District’s goals to improve agricultural water quality.  If a potential source of water pollution can be eliminated, its good news for all.

How did this happen?  Horse and livestock owners find themselves on increasingly small pieces of acreage; and animal waste does provide a good source of fertilizer, but the animal’s output often exceeds the landowner’s need. When that happens, the waste becomes a management problem and a potential environmental threat.

Why is it a problem?   Stored animal waste can enter the watershed via seepage and runoff. The sooner the waste is removed from the site, the less likely that it will have that opportunity. Although not toxic, animal waste can contribute to several problems in rivers, ponds and lakes including nitrogen loading, decreased oxygen, algae bloom, and damage to fish habitat and food sources.

Consider joining the Manure Exchange Program.  Gardeners looking for local free manure and paired with horse and livestock owners and managers that have excess fresh or composted manure. Marion SWCD maintains a current listing of local livestock owners that wish to share their excess livestock manure freely with their local community members. They simply complete an application form and Marion SWCD maintains the list.  Everyone wants to be a good neighbor, here is an easy way to do just that. For more information contact us at or call (503) 391.9927.
Home School Day 2018
by Jenny Ammon
We had the distinct pleasure of presenting at the 2018 Home School Day at the beautiful Oregon Gardens in Silverton. Oregon Forest Research Institute (OFRI), the Oregon Garden and the Oregon Garden Foundation sponsored the popular event and reported a total of 720 people attending the educational day!

Marion SWCD has participated in this event for many years and has continually been one of the favorites of adults and kids alike.  Our station consists of aquatic insects and aquatic life that the students and adults can discover with hand lenses, close observation and use field guides to identify the species and how their presence in a body of water can indicate stream health.  Many of the families were timid at first, barely touching the water or vegetation in the observation buckets, but within a two-minute time frame they were picking up aquatic vegetation looking for signs of life and asking questions about what they were finding.

A favorite story from the day was a conversation with 7-year-old Carolyn.  Carolyn was investigating a caddisfly tube and stated how spot-on their camouflage was, which lead us to a conversation about other insect adaptations and down the rabbit-hole to spider adaptations, and finally we ended with an agreement that nature is full of mystery and we could spend a lifetime learning about its wonders!  During this ten to fifteen-minute conversation her dad stood patiently listening to the awe in his daughter’s voice as she retold facts she knew about insects and spiders and all things nature; his patience and ability to see a budding interest was very special.  This type of conversation does not change the world, but it inspires small changes like awareness, connections, and the need to learn more about our environment.

Education topics at the Home School Day ranged from our aquatic insect station to fire safety & prevention, forest habitats & wildlife, farm life, clean water, fun with trees, plant adaptations, birds and the environment and the 3 R’s.  The collaboration of several private and public organizations and diversity of presentations was impressive and we applaud the hard work of OFRI for planning the worthy event.  It was a great day of outreach and I look forward to participating in 2019!

My Well is Going Dry – What Should I Do?
 by Meredith Hoffman
Contact the company that drilled your well, if you don’t know who did, newer wells have an identification tag on the well, which should be recorded with the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD).  You can go online or call OWRD for more information.

If the well doesn’t have identification, contact a local well driller.  They know the other well drillers in the area and local history, and all keep reports or logs on each well they drill. There is a list of licensed well water contractors on the OWRD website as well.

A well driller can tell you if you have damage to your well or your pump, and whether it is repairable.  Also, a well driller can advise you whether you need a new well. It’s possible that new wells or drought conditions could be affecting your well.

Look on line and see if you are in a ground water limited area, or a critical ground water area.  Marion County has four areas designated as ground water limited.  The OWRD has classified these areas and restricts new drilling and recognizes these areas may expand as when pumping exceeds the water resource here.

Sometimes local municipalities expand their utility lines out into the county.  You could check with city officials if you live on the edge of town and see if you could access any water through them. 
Oregon State University has many publications available to help you such as: Measuring Well Water Levels and Keeping your Well Water Well. The OWRD also publishes The Water Well Owners Handbook Oregon: A Guide to Water Wells in Oregon.

Marion Soil and Water Conservation District has many water saving ideas as well.  Contact us at or call (503) 391-9927.

Summer Invasive Plant Surveys in the Upper Mill Creek Watershed
by J. Meisel
The Marion SWCD has been working in cooperation with the Marion County Weed Control District and the North Santiam Watershed Council to assist with conducting invasive plant surveys along portions of Mill Creek and the Salem Ditch that run through Stayton and Aumsville. (See map below for survey area) Two members of the Marion County Public Works staff conducted the surveys from mid-July through August and covered approximately 25 miles of waterway along Mill Creek and tributaries.

In February of 2018, the Marion County Weed Control District received a grant from the Oregon State Weed Board to conduct the surveys. Goals for the invasive plant surveys are to: improve education, control, and prevention efforts for invasive species that are found along the waterways, and to assist landowners with reducing and controlling invasive weeds on their property by offering identification assistance and advice on best management practices. After the surveys are completed, landowners will receive the results of the surveys and be invited to attend a free workshop in early 2019 where they can learn about the species that were found during the surveys, receive technical assistance on how to control invasive plants and information on how to restore the infested sites with the appropriate vegetation to prevent future infestations.

Additional activities that will take place through the grant from the Oregon State Weed Board include:
1) treatments of yellow flag iris along a portion of the Salem Ditch
2) re-seeding with a native grass in areas where the yellow flag iris treatments occurred
3) training Marion County Public Works Staff on invasive plant identification

Yellow flag iris is an aggressive aquatic plant that can clog waterways and infest wetlands leading to slower water velocity and cause flooding; the roots and rhizomes are also toxic to livestock.  Yellow flag iris can grow 3-4 feet tall with its roots in the water.  It has yellow flowers that bloom in May.
All the partners on this grant appreciate the cooperation of the landowners in the Upper Mill Creek Watershed who have allowed access to their properties for surveys and treatment of invasive plants.  We all need to work together to control invasive plants that threaten our waterways, native vegetation, and economy in Marion County.  If left untreated, invasive weeds along waterways can spread miles downstream affecting hundreds of properties by inhibiting water delivery, decreasing land value, reducing fish and wildlife habitat and increasing the potential for flooding.

The Marion Soil and Water Conservation District in partnership with the Marion County Weed Control District, and the North Santiam Watershed Council has been addressing invasive plant issues throughout Marion County for the past 10 years by mapping and identifying problem areas along the County’s waterways.  In the past we have surveyed properties along the North Santiam, Little North Santiam and Santiam Rivers in Marion County.   We have also surveyed a portion of Mill Creek and tributaries in Stayton for yellow flag iris in 2013 and 2014.

Cover Crops: Increase productivity through nature
by Brandon Bishop
Planting cover crops isn’t a new or emerging practice by any means, but it is still underutilized today. The use of cover crops in commercial agriculture or on your home garden provide the same great benefits no matter the size of the operation. Planting cover allows the soil ecosystem to continue to work and nutrients to be broken down from the previous season into simpler forms making them available for plants to use.  These crops can also increase organic matter, improve soil structure, reduce erosion (my favorite), promote beneficial insects and even provide weed control.  When soil is rich with organic matter it has good structure allowing more moisture to be held in air and void pockets.

After the summer we have had with record highs and long spells without rain soil moisture capacity is critical. We all want our watering efforts to stay around long enough to benefit the plant. Think of it more as helping reduce stress rather than a magic cure-all. The reduction of erosion keeps your soil where it belongs, and beneficial insects help reduce unwanted pests. A healthy cover will out compete weeds providing a cleaner seed bed for the season’s crop. Cover crops need to be integrated into the soil or mowed depending on your management plan.

Choose a crop that is right for what you are trying to accomplish and easy enough to control. One type of cover crop can’t do it all but in rotation a series of different plant species can address multiple problems. Please keep in mind the termination of this crop at the proper time is critical don’t let it too large or go to seed.  Consult your local garden or agronomy center today for a cover crop seed selection for this year. Choose the species right for you and plant with enough time to get established before severe winter weather sets in. Give your soil a leg up for next year by letting nature do the work.    

Weeds to Know: Japanese, Giant, and Bohemian Knotweeds
 Knotweeds are a group of highly invasive and destructive plants
by Sarah Hamilton
Photos by:  David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, & Tom Heutte, USDA Forest Service,
In Marion County you can find Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), giant knotweed (F. sachalinensis), and a hybrid of the two, Bohemian knotweed (F. x bohemica), colonizing along rivers, streams, and even in backyards. Japanese knotweed is one of the 100 Worst Global Invaders according to the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). This and the other 2 knotweeds spread rapidly along waterways and wet areas, frequently displacing ALL other vegetation along a stream. They form dense, impenetrable thickets which dramatically reduce the quality of habitat for amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Knotweeds die back in the winter, leaving streambanks exposed during high water events and impacting water quality by increasing erosion. Fish, including our native salmon, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of habitat degradation and poor water quality due to knotweeds.  The strong roots and stems are also capable of breaking through pavement and pulling apart walls.

Japanese and giant knotweed are native to Japan and surrounding countries. Both plants were originally introduced to the US as ornamentals in the 1800s, and they were first found to hybridize in the 1980s in the Czech Republic. The hybrid, known as Bohemian knotweed, may be more invasive and destructive than either parent, and it is what we most commonly see growing along our waterways now. 
Knotweeds are herbaceous perennials which grow tall each season and die to the ground in the winter, though the dead stems may persist until spring. Plants re-sprout from the vigorous root system in the late spring. The weeds have large, heart- or spade-shaped leaves, growing from stout, cane-like hollow stems. Five- to eight- foot-tall stems have a reddish tint and swollen nodes, giving them an appearance similar to bamboo though the stems are much weaker and easy to bend.  Creamy white flowers form near the top of the canes in late summer and are a favorite of pollinators.
Knotweeds are frequently found along streams and rivers and in old plantings where they were appreciated for their unique look. Unfortunately, their aggressive nature makes them poor choices for the home garden. Many landowners have come to regret planting these pernicious weeds. 
Knotweeds are on the Oregon Department of Agriculture Class B Noxious Weed List. This means they are weeds of economic importance which are regionally abundant but may have limited distribution in some Oregon counties. It also means that the propagation, transport, and sale of these plants are prohibited by law.

Knotweeds grow from seed but usually spread from fragments of roots or stems which wash downstream or are carried to new locations. Dumping yard debris in natural is a common way this noxious weed forms new infestations, as is the movement of soil from one site to another.  
The roots of knotweed can grow up to 10 feet deep and 21 feet horizontally, making the plants very difficult to control.  A single piece of rhizome left behind will sprout a new plant, so digging is ineffective in all but the very smallest infestation. If you are digging a very small infestation, be sure to bag all pieces of the plant and put them in the municipal garbage (not the compost or yard debris bin). Mowing usually spreads infestations.
The most effective way to control large knotweed infestations is through the proper use of appropriate herbicides. Always follow the label when applying herbicides. It’s important to time herbicide applications for late in the summer or early autumn when plants are moving energy from their stems into their roots. Herbicides will likely take many years and repeat treatments to be effective. For more information on how to control Japanese knotweed using herbicides, please check out the
4-County CWMA BMP or contact OSU Extension. 

Report Knotweed!
Have you noticed invasive knotweed in your area? If so, please report your sightings to the 
Oregon Invasive Species Hotline. Your help in identifying and reporting locations of knotweed in our community will help to stop the next invasion before it starts!

For more information about knotweed, contact the Marion SWCD or check out these resources:

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