How does IAE get all of those plants in the ground?

By Andy Neill

December 2019

Fall is planting season, which means IAE’s restoration ecologists are in the midst of their busiest time of the year. Most of the restoration work that takes place the rest of the year is in preparation for planting and seeding each fall. This year, nearly 116,000 plants were planted and over 450 pounds of seed were sown to enhance native habitats in the Willamette Valley and the foothills of the Coast Range, as well as at the Oregon coast! Most of these plants were put in the ground by volunteers who are critical to the success of IAE’s restoration efforts. IAE volunteers have already logged hundreds of hours to support restoration projects such as the prairie, oak and riparian restoration work at Herbert Farm and Natural Area just outside of Corvallis (Photo 1) and Champoeg State Heritage Area near Newberg (Photo 2).

Photo 1. Volunteers planting bulbs and bare-root plants in October at Herbert Farm Natural Area, just south of Corvallis, Oregon.

Photo 2: Over 60 volunteers from Newberg High School, CTGR Natural Resources Department, and a local Boy Scout troop helped plant 4,600 plants in prairie habitat and 100 oak trees in oak woodland habitat at Champoeg State Heritage Area in early November.

This year, we are fortunate to have help from Blue 5, an AmeriCorps team from the Pacific Region of the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), for six weeks. The twelve Blue 5 team members hail from across the U.S. and as far away as the U.S. Virgin Islands. They came to IAE with very little background knowledge in ecology, but enthusiastically approached each task as a learning opportunity. Within the first week, they hit their stride and continued to operate like a well-oiled machine (Photo 3). Rolando Beorchia, IAE Restoration Technician, has been with them every day providing guidance, answering questions, and training them on the variety of methodology and tools needed to complete the restoration work. Along the way, Blue 5 worked with all of our Habitat Restoration Program staff, as well as many IAE partners, including staff from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde (CTGR) Natural Resources Department (Photo 4) and Kings Valley Charter School high-schoolers (Photo 5).

In addition to planting, Blue 5 helped IAE remove woody plants to expand rare meadow habitat at several locations, including Marys Peak - a tiresome but rewarding task (Photo 6) that came with some great views (Photo 7)!

Photo 3: Members of Blue 5 planting a site where IAE is partnering with the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Natural Resources Department to restore prairie habitat and introduce culturally important food plants, such as camas (Camassia leichtlinii) yampa (Perideridia gairdneri).

Photo 4: Americorps Blue 5 team and the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Natural Resources Department employees after a day of planting.

Photo 5: Blue 5 and Kings Valley Charter school students working side by side to plant native species to support Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) at Beazell Memorial Forest in Benton County, Oregon.

In addition to planting, Blue 5 helped IAE remove woody plants to expand rare meadow habitat at several locations, including Marys Peak - a tiresome but rewarding task (Photo 6) that came with some great views (Photo 7)!

Blue 5 left IAE in mid-December to head back to California, where they will find out the location of their next project in early 2020. We are thankful to NCCC and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as our many other project partners and funders including the Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Metro, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, City of Corvallis, and Columbia River Youth Corps, for enabling us to host such a hard-working team. Special thanks to Sevenoaks Native Nursery for donating native plants to IAE's restoration efforts.  We appreciate their contribution to our restoration efforts!

 

Photo 6: Blue 5 spent three days in November felling and cutting trees then removing them from meadow habitat at Marys Peak with U.S. Forest Service employees.

Photo 7: Blue 5 was rewarded for their hard work at Marys Peak with great views of the Oregon Coast Range.

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