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.
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.
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.