Red Team 8: Restoration as Civic Service

By Zade Clark-Henry, Habitat Restoration Technician

January 2023

AmeriCorps crew planting Willamette Daisy with ecologist Paul Reed in heavy rain at a site north of Corvallis. Left to right: Nhu Tran, Jaqui Chavarria (back), Emmett Doyle (front), Orville Blair Scott Jr. (middle), Maria Rusnak (back), Geremiah Sherman, Katie Dodds (back), Paul Reed (front), Nick Weston (back).

Habitat restoration is difficult work. There is almost always more work to do than hands to do it. The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) heavily relies on volunteers for restoration projects. One recurring team of volunteers comes from AmeriCorps. They are the true heavy-lifters (literally!) for much of our restoration work. For many years, the Corvallis IAE office has sponsored an AmeriCorps team from Halloween to Christmas: crunch time for meadow restoration.

This year, we worked with a crew of nine Corps members called Red Team 8. The members were mostly from the East Coast and the Midwest, and for seven weeks they spent their days in the pouring rain, snow, wind, and even some sunshine to tackle some of our most arduous tasks. In total, the team worked at 17 different sites, spanning a range from as far north as Forest Grove (near Portland, OR) to south of Eugene, and as high as Marys Peak (the highest point along the Coast Range) west of Corvallis.

Crew posing with ecologist Tyler Roberts following cleanup of ten large conifer trees at Henry Hagg Lake State Park near Forest Grove, Oregon. Left to right: Tyler Roberts (front), Zade Clark-Henry (back), Orville Blair Scott Jr., Geremiah Sherman, Chris Hinze, Katie Dodds, Jaqui Chavarria, Nhu Tran (front), Nick Weston (back), Emmett Doyle.

The team, in concert with our restoration ecologists, removed over 400 trees to enhance and expand meadow habitat, chipped many dozens of trees, cleared Scotch broom, removed non-native hawthorn and thistles from numerous acres of meadow, and mowed blackberry in forests and grassland habitat. Perhaps the most impressive feat was the planting of native plugs and bulbs.

In total, the team planted over 17,000 plants: 11,500 Willamette daisy (Erigeron decumbens; endangered), 2,500 Nelson’s checkermallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana; threatened), and over 3,000 various other native forbs. These species are in decline primarily due to loss of critical habitat. Restoration of prairie and meadow habitat and reintroduction of these species to meadows is crucial to their ongoing survival.

It would not have been possible to complete so much work without the help of the AmeriCorps team. Everything that these hard-working young people accomplished this year pushes the needle forward on habitat and species conservation in the Willamette Valley.

We would like to thank AmeriCorps NCCC for their continued partnership and support. Find out more about AmeriCorps at their website.

Ecologist Sara Alaica with the crew following cleanup of a meadow at a restoration site west of Corvallis. Left to right: Jaqui Chavarria, Katie Dodds, Sara Alaica, Geremiah Sherman, Nick Weston, Maria Rusnak, Emmett Doyle, Chris Hinze, Nhu Tran, Orville Blair Scott Jr.