Recently the Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) and Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) exchanged site tours for staff involved in habitat restoration. This was a great opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss the control of problem weed species and see different stages of restoration projects - all in a similar, yet unfamiliar environment.
On May 25th, Andy Neill, Peter Moore, Anna Ramthun and Matt Shultz of IAE's Habitat Restoration Program trooped up to Olympia to meet CNLM staff and tour several sites in the South Puget Sound. Over, the course of the day our hosts, Elspeth Hilton Kim, Nate Johnson, Sanders Freed and Bill Kronland gave us a comprehensive look at restoration projects at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Violet Prairie, Mazama Meadows and Glacial Heritage.
Of particular interest was the habitat enhancement work being conducted for Taylor's checkerspot butterfly and streaked horned lark, given similar efforts are underway here in the Willamette Valley. There were many similarities and differences in weed challenges in the Puget Sound compared with in our own area. We noted with envy how extensively and frequently prescribed fire is being used by CNLM as a restoration tool, both on and off the army base, and also very impressed with the native seed nursery at Violet Prairie.
The following week IAE returned the favor with a tour of restoration projects at Beazell Memorial Forest (Benton County), Lupine Meadows (Greenbelt Land Trust) and Herbert Farm & Natural Area (City of Corvallis). Given the lack of suitable host plants, the endangered Talyor's checkerspot larvae often feed on the introduced plantain (Plantago lanceolata) at remnant populations such as at Beazell. As we talked about this issue, the eagle eyes of the CNLM staff spotted checkerspot larvae on plantain as well as the threatened golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta). IAE is working to reintroduce golden paintbrush back into its natural range in the Willamette Valley so it was gratifying to see the butterfly larvae utilizing its native host plant.
At the end of each tour we gathered for good food, libation and conversation at a barbecue back at Olympia or Corvallis. All in all we had a very successful exchange. Many thanks to Elspeth and Rebecca Currin for making it happen.