Clearing Meadows for Nelson’s Checkermallow

The range of Nelson’s checkermallow consists of highly fragmented, mostly small, populations within the Willamette Valley and flanks of the Coast Range, Oregon.

One problem the species faces in the Coast Range is that meadows are being over-run with shrubs and Douglas-fir.  In the past these meadows would have been kept open by more frequent fires.

Young fir trees growing in a formerly open meadow in Tillamook Forest.

Nelson’s checkermallow blooming in June. In time their habitat gradually disappears if the meadows are not kept open.

Recently, IAE received help from a 10-person inmate crew from South Fork Forest Camp (SFFC) to clear encroaching woody plants from several meadows in Tillamook Forest.  The SFFC is a cooperative venture between Oregon Department of Corrections and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) which aims to restore and protect State forest lands.

Some of the meadows were choked full with Douglas-fir, willows and other native and non-native shrubs.

View of a meadow after it was cleared by the South Fork Forest Camp crew.

One or two days was spent at each of five meadows cutting trees and shrubs and dispersing the cut material in the surrounding forest.  Most of the checkermallow are dormant in the fall, so it is a good time to work in the meadows. This work will help preserve the open space that Nelson’s checkermallow needs to thrive.

Felling a tree.

Cutting and trimming a tree for hauling into the forest.

A tree that has been girdled and limbed to reduce shading of the meadow.

Inmates receive training and practice for safely felling trees.

An ODF supervisor is on hand to provide instruction.

Inmates use weedeaters to clear shrubs such as spirea from a powerline corridor which is occupied by Nelson’s checkermallow.

Many thanks to ODF for providing the crew.  This work is part of Phase III of the Nelson’s checkermallow recovery project.  IAE has received grants from Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, for various aspects of the recovery of Nelson’s checkermallow in the Portland area and the Coast Range, and is partnering with several landowners, including ODF, City of Hillsboro, Weyerhaeuser, Metro, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

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