By Anna Ramthun
The Herbert Farm Natural Area is undeniably special. Located just south of Corvallis, the area was an important gathering and foraging spot for local Native American tribes, and is still regarded as an important cultural area by the modern Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) is currently working with these tribes to increase the production of culturally significant food species, such as camas and yampa, on the site.
The site is also important ecologically, providing habitat for multiple rare, threatened, and endangered species, including Kincaid's lupine, Nelson's checkermallow, peacock larkspur, and thin-leaved peavine. The threatened streaked horned lark has also been spotted on site, and efforts are underway to create nesting habitat for this species.
Herbert Farm is also a lesser known public park for the City of Corvallis. Since 2011, IAE has been working with the City of Corvallis and Trout Mountain Forestry to restore Herbert Farm to its original prairie and riparian ecosystems. It is also a great place to walk a dog (on leash and using bags to remove waste). Weekly dog walks on site have given me a unique opportunity to observe the progression of the plant community throughout the season.
During rainy times of year, the older, and more established areas of the prairie are cut off by flooding of Muddy Creek and Marys River on two sides and Matt Creek across the access road. The swales near the parking lot swell with water, and vernal pools fill in site's riparian boundaries. This year, Matt Creek was flooded until the end of April. Luckily, it drained early enough that I still got a view of the camas in bloom.
As the fields begin to dry, checkermallow emerges.
As May turns into June, peak bloom begins.