OSU Extension Sea Grant agent Sam Chan is based in the Portland metropolitan area and delivers education and outreach programs focused on "aquatic ecosystem health." This topic covers issues such as habitat protection, water pollution, salmon and watershed restoration, oil spills, and invasive non-native plants and animals.
Oregon Sea Grant is part of a national network that supports research and education programs that contribute to the wise use of coastal resources. Extension Sea Grant brings university expertise to bear on real-world issues faced by Oregon residents, businesses, and communities. In addition to aquatic ecosystem health, other members of the Extension Sea Grant team address topics such as coastal erosion, fisheries management, marine mammals, and tourism. More information is available on the Oregon Sea Grant website.
Why does Oregon Sea Grant have an Extension agent based more than 100 miles up the Columbia River? Well, for one thing, the Columbia River is actually influenced by tides all the way to Bonneville Dam (and the Willamette River is influenced up to Willamette Falls in Oregon City). But more important, residents of the Portland metropolitan area are a major part of the Columbia River watershed and also have an important relationship to Oregon's coastal resources.
Invasions by non-native species are now considered by many scientists as the second-leading threat (after habitat loss) to biological diversity in the United States. A recent report led by David Pimentel at Cornell University estimates that annual costs from invasive plants and animals total $123 billion per year! A number of aquatic non-native species (ANS) have been introduced to Oregon, including the European green crab, New Zealand mud snail, Eurasian watermilfoil and dozens of others. Once established, it is very difficult to eliminate invasive species from new habitats, making prevention a high priority.
Oregon is a gardener’s dream. Our varied climates and mild conditions allow us to showcase a wide variety of plants from around the world. In fact, nursery crops are Oregon’s number one agricultural commodity.
Unfortunately, a few plants used in gardens and landscapes cause serious ecological harm by "jumping the fence" and spreading elsewhere. These invasive plants can become serious problems that threaten water quality, wildlife and our economy by crowding out native plants, changing stream flows, increasing erosion, competing with crops or creating fire hazards.
The booklet, EC 1620, offers gardeners and landscape designers many choices of plants that work for gardens while protecting the health and beauty of Oregon’s natural lands and waters. We highlight plants that should be avoided because they are invasive, and offer non-invasive alternatives (both natives and non-native ornamentals) that you can safely plant instead. Copies available online and for ordering.
Concerns about safe drinking water are in the minds of Oregon citizens due to flooding around the state. The EPA has information about ground and drinking water safety, including instructions for disinfecting contaminated water.
For a schedule of upcoming MWSP sessions and general information on MWSP, visit the Sea Grant Program page.