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Scappoose Bay Watershed Council encouraging landowners to participate in restoration projects

SCAPPOOSE BAY WATERSHED COUNCIL - The Scappoose Bay Watershed Council helps private landowners in the watershed region complete habitat restoration projects.The Scappoose Bay Watershed Council is encouraging residents to apply to a statewide grant program to fund projects that repair or preserve local ecology.

Landowners can apply for up to $15,000 in grant funding for: planting in stream banks, planting native flora, creating or improving habitats for pollinators, oak, and other wildlife; invasive weed control, erosion control, or wetland restoration.

Working in partnership with the SBWC and other local resources, landowners can apply for the grants, which can fund up to 75% of the total project.

The SBWC has completed four projects using small grant funds in the last two years. Typically, the lower Columbia region, which stretches from Scappoose to Astoria, receives $100,000 to $200,000 every two years.

All four of the recent local projects were revegetation projects "aimed at controlling invasive species and restoring native vegetation," SBWC coordinator Dana Pritcher said. The projects received between $10,000 and $15,000, which is the maximum amount in the small grants program.

Pritcher explained that the remaining 25% of the project cost is generally covered by the landowner in the form of labor or in match from other partners such as the Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, which often donates plants from our native plant nursery to projects.

Projects usually consist of controlling non-natives through repeated mowing, hand removal, or chemical herbicides depending on the species, location, and landowner preference. Then a crew will plant native trees, shrubs, and small plants in the fall or winter. For several years following the planting, the landowner or hired crew will continue to control non-native plants to allow the new plants to establish themselves, Pritcher said.

The SBWC has been less active during the COVID-19 outbreak, but Pritcher said the organization is starting to pick back up.

The grant program is ongoing, but the current application period began Aug. 2 and continues through Aug. 16. Interested landowners can contact the SBWC to discuss any potential projects, then schedule a site visit to determine if the grant program or a different option would be a good fit.

The next application opening isn't far off either; grant proposals can next be submitted between Oct. 2 and 16.

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