Painting the Prairie – IAE Interns Monitor Golden Paintbrush in the Willamette Valley

by Christina Partipilo and Camille Eckel, IAE 2017 Interns The Willamette Valley is home to small pockets of native prairie habitats. Among these native prairie species is the threatened golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), a species with glowing golden bracts.  This once-abundant prairie wildflower was deemed “nearly impossible to cultivate,” and difficult to grow from seed. Since 2003, IAE has […]

Tagging monarchs in New Mexico

“I got one!” Steve Cary calls through a thicket of seep willow in full bloom.  He’s netted a monarch butterfly on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Mexico.  We convene at his pickup and get to work tagging this butterfly, a male with slightly tattered wings.  It’s on a long migration […]

Nature as a Context for Learning

3rd grade teachers Ruben Sandoval from Garfield Elementary School and Susan Reeves from Adams Elementary School carefully dug through leaf litter looking for insects during an “ecosystem comparison” lesson at Bald Hill Farm as part of the IAE-sponsored teacher professional development workshop, “Exploring Oregon’s Ecosystems: from Oak Savanna to Riparian Woodland.” During the 3 day workshop, […]

Willamette Daisy Planting at Baskett Slough NWR

This spring IAE staff and volunteers, as well as many folks from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helped over 1700 Willamette daisy plants find a new home at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located about 10 miles west of Salem. It was a perfect day for planting – not too hot, not too cold, […]

Put a Bird on It!

Do you ever get the feeling that you are being followed? That there’s something out there watching your every move? Well, on the last Crater Lake seed collection trip, the team discovered that was exactly the case. As they harvested seed from marumleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum marifolium), they discovered they were being shadowed by a tiny […]

Bringing Nature and Science Into Prisons

In June, a golden eagle named Jackhammer paid a visit to the Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) in Ontario, OR. Jackhammer and her handlers, Joe and Cordi Atkinson of Vale, were there to teach inmates about one of the top predators living in the sagebrush-steppe. The Atkinson’s presentation was one of several interactive lectures that […]

SPP Thanks the American Legion

The Institute for Applied Ecology and the Lovelock Correctional Center Sagebrush Crew would like to thank The American Legion Sean M. Ward Post 519 group for their help in restoring greater sage-grouse habitat for our Sagebrush in Prisons Project. They have volunteered many hours helping us thin out the sagebrush containers to our target goal […]

Farewell Field 2017

By Nadav Mouallem with contributions from fellow NPSO/CR interns Abbie Harold and Lucy Keehn When the entire season feels like a never-ending highlight reel, you know it has been a good one. Whether it be sighting owls at dusk atop of Table Rock, whales at sunrise overlooking Coos Bay, or a bobcat in the Tillamook […]

Going loco searching for LOCO!

–By Lucy Keehn

We have had many adventures during our Native Plant Society of Oregon internship.  In the first week of May, our crew rapidly expanded from the usual 5 to a lively 16, as we were joined in the field by our Executive Director, Tom Kaye, and 10 volunteers from all over Oregon, in order to monitor the population of the endangered Cook’s Desert Parsley (Lomatium cookii), also refereed to as LOCO. Cook’s Desert Parsley is closely related to Lomatium bradshawii, which is an endangered Apiaceae found only in the Willamette Valley. The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) has been involved with monitoring the species, habitat, and community at this location for more than 20 years, in partnership with the Medford Bureau of Land Management (BLM) District. It was exciting to be able to contribute to such a long-lasting project that so many people have invested much time and care.

IAE/NPSO Interns, Lucy and Nadav, monitoring Cook's desert parsley at Reeve's Creek.

We worked in the Illinois Flats, one of the remaining two population centers of the endangered Cook’s Desert Parsley (the other is north of Medford Plains) (Kagan, 1994). Cook’s Desert Parsley is a small and inconspicuous plant when not flowering; its leaves are narrow and compoundly divided, easily hiding among surrounding vegetation.

The vegetation can be so hard to find, it often means monitoring on your hands and knees with your nose almost in the soil. Sometimes it would take waiting for a small breeze to reveal the hidden Cook’s lomatium, which dips and bends in the wind in contrast to the shaking grasses. Besides being glad to see healthy reproductive plants, we were happy that the creamy yellow umbels made the plants much easier to spot! Thankfully, the icy Illinois River, Deer Creek, and the Cave Junction Dairy Queen were nearby to reward the hot search with a cold treat!

We took a field trip one evening to see the Darlingtonia californica in bloom at 8 Mile Mountain; definitely a highlight of this summer. These incredible carnivorous plants grow in the slowly flowing water of the fen and source nutrients from the rotting insects that fall into their hollow stalk. The insects are lured into the hood by the light shining through the translucent “windows” in the ceiling of hood. Confused by the light, they tumble into the stalk where small downward-pointing hairs prevent them from escaping. The flower of the Darlingtonia is one of the most menacing I have ever seen- the drooping dark purplish-red petals enclosed by large yellow sepals definitely looked the part of a carnivorous plant!

This trip was a great opportunity to tap the impressive collective knowledge of the volunteer crew; we learned from the birding expertise of Marcia, Marisa and Sandy, about Oregon botany from Cindy and our BLM partner Julie, about distance biking in Oregon from the power-couple Wendie and Mike, and about the power of enthusiasm and good vibes from Don. Of course, we also all learned about how to relax at the Siskiyou Field Institute like a true “Duke” from the John Wayne cutout! Thanks to all of the volunteers who endured the heat with us, and to the Siskiyou Field Institute for hosting us at such a beautiful base-camp!

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Forest Bound Launches!

Outdoor Education Program for High School Students Utilizes Native Plant Curriculum for New Mexico With the recent completion of the Native Plant Curriculum for New Mexico “From Ponderosa to Prickly Pear” in January 2017, IAE’s Southwest Program was in the perfect position to pilot a new summer educational program in the Santa Fe National Forest […]

The Land of Milkvetch and Honey bees

–By Nadav Mouallem For the ninth week of our Native Plant Society of Oregon internship (June 5-9), the Conservation Research field crew traveled to Vale, OR, to monitor Astragalus mulfordiae (we refer to it as ASMU), or Mulford’s milkvetch. Although we were already a seasoned field crew at this point, this trip was like no […]