Got turtles?

If you have turtles in your pond, wetland or other slow-moving water on your property, lucky you!

Both species of Oregon’s native turtles are uncommon, and it’s hard for them to find suitable habitat. You’ll want to make sure the conditions you provide for them stay suitable or even improve.

The Oregon Native Turtle Working Group has resources to help you!

What kind of turtles do you have?

In Oregon, we have two species of native turtles, the western painted turtle and the western pond turtle, and several species of non-native invasive turtles. Visit the Oregon Native Turtle Working Group website for turtle identification information.

Don’t have turtles, but want them?

It’s illegal to capture/relocate or buy turtles and turn them loose in your pond. Focus instead on providing suitable habitat – the “build it and they will come” approach. Turtles are very capable of and are known to make long-distance treks to newly created and enhanced habitats. In any case, improving habitat in and around your pond will make it more attractive to songbirds, dragonflies, frogs and other awesome creatures. You can’t lose!

See turtles? Report them.

Biologists are tracking locations of turtles (both native and non-native) in Oregon. Let us know if you spot turtles, whether they are on your property or somewhere else. You can report your turtle sighting at www.oregonturtles.com/report.html or www.inaturalist.org/projects/western-pond-turtles-in-oregon. The first step in making sure turtle populations remain stable is knowing where they are.

Get more information.

An abundance of information on how to help Oregon’s native turtles can be found in a free, downloadable publication by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: Guidance for Conserving Oregon’s Native Turtles including Best Management Practices.

Ask for help.

If you have turtles on your property and want help improving conditions for them, email oregonturtles@gmail.com and someone will get in touch with you.

Western Painted Turtle on a log in the water

Western Painted Turtle, Photo by Port of Portland

Learn more about creating turtle habitat.  

Turtles have fairly simple needs, which you can help provide:

  • Basking areas

After spending the winter hibernating, turtles need to haul out of the water in spring and early summer to warm up in the sunshine. They often select downed trees or large tree branches that have fallen into the water. If there is no natural downed wood in your pond or wetland, consider adding some. Turtles like to bask on wood as they can quickly drop into the water to avoid predators.

  • Nesting areas

When it’s time to lay eggs, female turtles look for sparsely-vegetated areas that get plenty of afternoon sun, since the sun’s rays incubate the eggs. Suitable turtle nesting habitat has compact soils, usually with a high clay content to help the nest keep its shape and make it harder for predators to dig up the eggs. You can enhance nesting areas by providing patches of sparsely vegetated or bare ground in sunny areas close to your pond.

  • Food and hiding cover

Young turtles conceal themselves from predators in rushes, sedges, duck weed and other vegetation at the shallow edges of the pond. Turtles eat worms, aquatic bugs, fish and other high protein items that help them grow. All turtles snack on aquatic vegetation, so it’s important to have a healthy plant community in your pond. Native plants attract a variety of invertebrates which in turn become food for turtles. Some shrubby/forested habitat nearby is ideal as some turtles over-winter on land.

  • Minimal disturbance

Turtles, turtle nests and hatchlings, and even hibernating turtles, are sensitive to disturbances like pet dogs swimming in ponds occupied by turtles, kayakers getting too close to basking turtles, or mowing equipment coming too close to nesting turtles. Turtles will be more likely to use your pond if basking and nesting areas are a little more private and away from areas of regular disturbance.

This information was provided by the Oregon Native Turtle Working Group and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Download a fact sheet. 


2019 OSWB Grant Funding for Garlic Mustard Control

We are pleased to share that our 2019 Portland Garlic Mustard Control – Oregon State Weed Board grant application was funded in full! This award will provide $34,368 in funding to the District and our partners for garlic mustard control.

We extend huge thanks to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Oregon Department of Agriculture for supporting our work through the Oregon State Weed Board grant. Actively treating Garlic mustard is critical to maintaining the health of our local ecosystems, and this work would not be possible without this state funding.

If you have Garlic mustard on your property, we can treat it for you at no cost to you. Contact Michelle Delepine, Invasive Species Program Coordinator, with questions or to grant access your property: michelle@wmswcd.org or 503-238-4775, ext.115.

Learn more about treating Garlic mustard in this fact sheet in English, and en Español.


You can help eradicate Garlic mustard

Spring is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start thinking about the weeds that might be popping up in your yard this year. While some kinds of weeds might be an unsightly nuisance, there are others that need special and urgent attention as they pose a huge risk to ecosystem health.

Garlic mustard is one of those high priority invasive weed species. It is an aggressive herb that displaces other plants by monopolizing light, moisture, nutrients, soil, and space. It also releases chemicals into the soil that are toxic to other plants and are particularly harmful to soil fungus which is vital to native plants. This noxious weed impacts sensitive natural areas as well as suburban landscapes, and all known populations in our district are targeted for removal.

Garlic mustard has few known locations in the Pacific Northwest and urgent action is needed to prevent it from gaining a foothold. Without immediate attention, this noxious weed will become a very serious threat to our native ecosystems.

West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District is working with landowners to identify and manage infestations. We are asking for assistance from local landowners and residents – important stewards of the land – to help us locate and manage this invasive plant by allowing us to come to your property to remove or kill all known infestations.

We offer FREE landowner assistance to manage this invasive plant before it becomes established and too difficult to contain. It is critical that infestations be treated each year before seedset to prevent it from flourishing and spreading. Seed pods will form quickly so your timely attention is appreciated!

If you have Garlic mustard on your property, we can treat it for you at no cost to you. Contact Michelle Delepine, Invasive Species Program Coordinator, with questions or to grant us access your property: michelle@wmswcd.org or 503-238-4775, ext.115. West Multnomah staff greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with you!

Learn more about treating Garlic mustard in this fact sheet in English, and en Español.

Special thanks to the Oregon State Weed Board for providing funding for this important program.


Get the Real Dirt ~ Become a Master Gardener!

2018 OSU Master Gardener™ Training Registration NOW OPEN!

Register now for the 2018 OSU Extension Service Master Gardener Training! The training includes all aspects of sustainable gardening in a fun and friendly environment.  Science-based curriculum is offered in a combination of in-person, online classes and hands-on workshops that run February through March.  This unique training is followed by volunteer educational outreach.  Classes start soon so register now!

Become a garden educator and help your community to grow from the ground up!  For details go to: www.metromastergardeners.org


Cool the Planet with Saltwater

Scientists Make the Case for Spraying Saltwater Into Clouds to Help Cool the Planet

by Prachi Patel | Jul 27, 2017 Anthropocene Weekly Science Dispatch

Geoengineering is one of the most controversial proposals to combat climate change. The idea is to tinker with the Earth’s atmosphere on a large scale to counter rising temperatures.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Washington make the case for a geoengineering method known as marine cloud brightening. The technique calls for spraying saltwater into low-lying marine clouds, where they help create more clouds that reflect heat back into space.

The UW scientists say in the journal Earth’s Future that conducting small, controlled marine cloud brightening experiments would provide unprecedented data to understand the effects of aerosols on cloud formation and the resulting reflection of sunlight.

The effect of clouds on climate is one of the biggest uncertainties in today’s climate models. Climate scientists believe that increased pollution since the Industrial Revolution has created brighter, reflective clouds. But they don’t understand the scope of the effect.

There is a need for more controlled experiments to fill the gaps in our basic understanding of the physical processes that control clouds, and how sensitive clouds are to manmade emissions, the researchers argue. By running a series of small-scale experiments in which known quantities of particles are injected into the marine boundary layer, they should be able to observe the impact of the particles on cloud properties and compare them with the properties of naturally formed clouds.

The researchers are now developing a nozzle that can turn saltwater into tiny droplets and can spray trillions of these aerosol particles high into the atmosphere per second. This is the first step in their three-year plan.

Once the sprayer has been developed, they propose to test it in the lab; do preliminary coastal tests in Monterey Bay; and finally move to offshore tests. If these small-scale tests of the technology work, they hope that larger-scale versions could eventually be deployed over larger swaths of ocean.

This isn’t the only geoengineering test underway. Harvard physicist David Keith’s team has recently raised money to conduct a small geoengineering test to dim sunlight. They plan to release about 1 kilogram of calcium carbonate or other material from a high-altitude balloon to see how it affects the physics of the atmosphere. Keith has argued in a recent book that we need to understand geoengineering deeply before we dive into it.

Deliberately messing with the planet’s atmosphere brings up many technical and ethical questions. Reflecting sunlight could affect farming yields and solar panel outputs, for instance. It could trigger much more dramatic unforeseen side effects. Experts also worry that it would detract from efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“There’s a science question about can we do it, but there’s also an ethical question about should we do it, and a policy question about how would we do it,” said Thomas Ackerman, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences and author of the new study in a press release. “I’m an agnostic on this. I want to test geoengineering and see if it works. But the whole time we’re working on this, I think we need to still be asking ourselves: ‘Should we do it?’”

Source: Robert Wood et al. Could geoengineering research help answer one of the biggest questions in climate science? Earth’s Future. 2017.

Photo: John MacNeill