Community Partner

Metro Regional Government

First Advisor

Alan Yeakley

Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Management (MEM)


Environmental Science and Management




Wetland management -- Oregon -- Portland, Reed canary grass -- Control, Endemic plants -- Oregon -- Portland, Vegetation management




We sought to determine the effects of 13 years of hydrologic management on the wetland plant community in Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area (SBW), an 809 ha palustrine wetland complex in north Portland, Oregon. Previous management efforts resulted in an altered hydrologic regime; historically high water levels in spring and low water levels in fall were replaced by persistent water levels with minimal annual variations. A water control structure was installed in 2003 to better approximate historic seasonal hydrologic changes to reduce invasive Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass) cover and promote native wetland vegetation growth. Vegetation monitoring has been carried out in three phases since project initiation (2003-2004, 2008-2009, and 2015-2016) to assess restoration efforts. Using lineintercept and differential leveling methods, we measured 25 randomly established transects ranging from 21.5m to 280.7m (mean: 92.87m) during monitoring years for vegetation and elevation to determine changes in vegetation in relation to seasonally varying water levels. Overall, reed canarygrass percent cover has decreased from 46.5% in 2003 to 17.6% in 2016 across all transect elevations. Reed canarygrass has been replaced significantly by seven native plant species with ≥ 5% cover on site. Native Persicaria amphibia (smartweed) has replaced reed canarygrass as the dominant species on site, increasing in cover from 20.2% in 2003 to 67.9% in 2016. Smartweed also replaced all other common species on site except for Salix lucida lasiandra. Other common native species (Bidens cernua, Eragrostis hypnoides, Eleocharis palustris, and Cyperus sp.) experienced earlier declines in cover between 2003 and 2009, but have since increased in cover primarily in low transect elevations in relation to lower inundation rates during their early growing seasons. Species diversity has declined significantly since 2003. Diversity was inversly correlated with reed canarygrass presence in 2003. These findings demonstrate that hydrologic management of a wetland system can be effective at reducing the presence of reed canarygrass and increasing native wetland vegetation by recreating historic hydrologic conditions that include increased inundation during the early growing season of reed canarygrass. Initial long inundation periods were most effective at reducing reed canarygrass, but did not need to be maintained indefinitely. Shortening and varying the inundation periods in later years after reed canarygrass has been reduced can be effective at maintaining lower levels of reed canarygrass while simultaneously increasing native species cover.


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A project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Environmental Management.

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