Bartonberry outplanting in Hells Canyon

Over the last two years, the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) has been developing propagation protocols to grow Bartonberry (Rubus bartonianus) from seed and cuttings, so that it may be reintroduced to the historic range, to maintain its historic global distribution. In addition to IAE staff, Matt Bahm, Erin Gray, Denise Giles-Johnson, and Meaghan Petix, Conservation Research interns and crew leaders from 2015 and 2016 helped take care of the plants and get them to the proper size for outplanting. The efforts of our 2015 and 2016 crews, Emma MacDonald, Connor Whitaker, Cecilia Welch, Sarah Newman, Liza Holtz, Ari Freitag, and Sarai Carter, were vital to the success of the project.

2016 CR/NPSO intern, Liza Holtz, working on moving Bartonberry seedlings to larger containers back in April during the first week of her internship; thank you Liza, Ari, and Sarai for your contributions to this effort!

2016 CR/NPSO intern, Liza Holtz, working on moving Bartonberry seedlings after transplanting to larger containers in April.

The crew was very excited to see a mature Bartonberry across the river in Idaho! [photographed from left to right: Meaghan Petix, Leanna Van Slambrook, Emily Wittkope, and Rachel Zitomer]

The crew was very excited to see a mature Bartonberry across the river in Idaho! [photographed from left to right: Meaghan Petix, Leanna Van Slambrook, Emily Wittkop, and Rachel Zitomer]

Historically, Bartonberry occurred over 59.5 river miles in Hells Canyon but recent field surveys in 2009 and 2010 were unable to relocate the southern and northernmost Bartonberry locations. On this trip we reintroduced Bartonberry plants (the products of IAE’s germination/propagation experiments) to the historic southernmost location for the species, which was in the southern portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness managed by the BLM Vale District.
From November 13-18, the Conservation Research team traveled to Hells Canyon in northeastern Oregon to plant over 2,000 Bartonberry seedlings. Bartonberry is a narrow endemic that occurs in Oregon and Idaho in the middle sections of Hells Canyon of the Snake River and its tributaries. Bartonberry has seen habitat reduction due to damming, fire, rock slides, livestock grazing, and competition with the exotic species, such as Rubus ameniacus (Himalayan blackberry). Its shrinking habitat range has led to it being listed as a federal species of concern and a candidate for listing by the state of Oregon.

Bartonberry (Rubus bartonianus) seedling

Bartonberry (Rubus bartonianus) seedling planted in Hells Canyon.

BLM Fire Botanist, Roger Ferriel, planting along a slope on a beautiful sunny day

BLM Fire Botanist, Roger Ferriel, planting along a slope on a beautiful, sunny day in Hells Canyon.

Getting all the Bartonberry seedlings in the ground in difficult steep terrain was no easy feat, but luckily we had some sure-footed crewmembers who really were invaluable! The crew worked hard all week, through variable weather conditions, and we were able to get all the seedlings planted. Next summer the Conservation Research team will be back to these sites to monitor survivorship and see how the seedlings fared in the harsh conditions of Hells Canyon.

Our adventurous crew members, Leanna Van Slambrook and Emily Wittkope, high up on a slope planting (arrows are pointing to their location!)

Our adventurous crew members, Leanna Van Slambrook and Emily Wittkop, high up on a slope planting (arrows are pointing to their location!).

AmeriCorps ACE intern, Rachel Zitomer, planting Bartonberry at one of our sites

ACE intern, Rachel Zitomer, planting Bartonberry at one of our sites in Hells Canyon.

Hells Canyon was pretty gorgeous!

Although the planting conditions were difficult, the views of Hells Canyon made it worth the effort!

Posted in Conservation Research Program and tagged , , , , , , .