Willows to Come - Columbia Land Trust
Kandoll Farm on the Grays River. Photo Sam Schongalla
Volunteers plant more than 1,000 willow cuttings at Kandoll Farm.

A dozen Land Trust volunteers spent a full January day collecting and planting some 1,000 willow cuttings at Kandoll Farm, an intertidal wetland on the Grays River. The day was marked by a series of rainy downpours, pockets of sunny skies, and reoccurring rainbows. Our enthusiastic team of staff and volunteers cut live stakes from three species of willows growing in the intertidal wetland system: Salix scouleriana, Salix lucida, and Salix sitchensis. During the afternoon low tide, with feet sinking into soft mud, our team peppered the property’s man-made hummocks with our collected willow cuttings.

Willow cuttings meet the ground

Willow cuttings meet the ground

Three miles from the confluence of the Grays River and the Columbia River estuary, the 163-acre Kandoll Farm once sat within the historic floodplain of the Columbia River and was formerly dominated by braided tidal channels and Spruce swamps. As agriculture and development took its foothold in the area, the property was drained and diked to create  farmland. Columbia Land Trust acquired the property in 2002 upon recognizing the potential to restore significant watershed and habitat function. Two phases of restoration, the first in 2005 and the latest in 2013, have reconnected the property to its historic floodplain via culvert improvements, the removal of a levee, the excavation of three miles of tidal channels.

Long term benefits of the restoration include increased flood storage capacity, improved water quality, and enhanced salmon and wildlife habitat. With time and luck, the  twigs planted last month will become great stands of mature willow for wetland birds and other wildlife to enjoy.