Habitat Restoration and Ecological Education Combat the Enemy We Know

By Jessica Celis

April 2020

In this time of combating an insidious, novel threat like the coronavirus, it is nice to get outside and combat a more typical ecological threat: weeds. Last week, staff from IAE’s Ecological Education Program (EE) joined Habitat Restoration Program (HR) folks up at Horse Rock Ridge, a 378-acre mid-elevation meadow managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) located near Marcola, Oregon. This site hosts some of the nicest intact mid-elevation native bunchgrass habitat in our region.

Although our main objective was to hand pull the annual (or sometimes biennial) noxious weed Italian plumeless thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus), we were lucky to be up there when some of the site’s most beautiful early spring blooming natives were flowering.

Small flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)

Western saxifrage (Saxifraga occidentalis)

Chickweed monkey flower (Mimulus alsinoides)

Dwarf mountain fleabane (Erigeron compositus var. glabratus)

IAE staff has been partnering with the BLM at Horse Rock Ridge since 2006. Our work at this site initially involved mapping the native plant communities and exotic weeds, as well as conducting restoration experiments. The current focus, however, is on active habitat restoration, and one of our goals is to prevent the expansion of noxious weed populations at this beautiful site. With help from EE’s Tyler Knapp and Stacy Moore, as well as HR’s Rolando Beorchia and Jessica Celis, the group was able to spread out and pull twice as much thistle!  Thank you, Tyler and Stacy!

IAE Staff help out at Horse Rock Ridge

Ecological Education Program Director Stacy Moore pulling weeds