By Michel Wiman
As 2019 dawns and we plan IAE’s 20th year, we can take a moment to reflect on our restoration, research, and education over the last 12 months. We’ve checked a lot of boxes in 2018:
- Growing native plants
As of this writing, IAE has 1,340 acres of Oregon habitat in active restoration, and more with our New Mexico projects. In 2019 alone, we
planted 27,250 native plants, bulbs, roots, or plugs that will grow to expand the food, shelter and habitat of Oregon wildlife and pollinators. Our Southwest
Program continues to work with growers to produce native plant materials in that region. We are thrilled to report that the Sagebrush in Prison project’s one-millionth sagebrush was planted this fall, restoring critical habitat for the Greater Sage-Grouse.
- Ground-breaking accomplishments
To produce the native seed and plants needed for 70 restoration sites, IAE planted fields at the Oregon State University Vegetable Research Farm in Corvallis, Oregon in 2018. The seeds harvested from this land will be used to improve ecosystem functions, enhance and restore habitat, and provide resources for pollinators and wildlife on restoration sites. In one day this fall, all IAE staff pitched in to transplant thousands of plugs of Oregon iris (Iris tenax), barestem biscuitroot (Lomatium nudicaule), shaggy horkelia (Horkelia congesta), and Western goldenrod (Solidago lepida) (see featured image, above).
Ground was also broken on The Confluence, 26,000-square-foot office space to be constructed in downtown Corvallis, Oregon. A coalition
of local environmental organizations including IAE, Greenbelt Land Trust, Corvallis Environmental Center, Cascade Pacific RC&D, and Benton Soil and
Water Conservation District have been collaborating since 2014 with the goal of developing this shared-space center. The group completed a feasibility study to
assess the shared space center concept in our community, identify potential sites, conduct a cost analysis, and outline potential shared services. A public
groundbreaking ceremony in October fulfilled the coalition’s shared-space vision, and we look forward to The Confluence’s construction!
- Building conservation awareness in our community
Planting bulbs, leading lessons for kids, cleaning seed, presenting lessons to inmates, weeding and sowing – IAE does so much in any given year. We
have accomplished much of this with the help of our dedicated volunteers. People who care about conservation and getting kids and underserved people outdoors
have supported us with a total of 1,746 volunteer-hours in 2018 alone. We thank you for your time and energy!
With our student, inmate and juvenile detention education programming, we brought the wonders of ecology, habitat restoration and
conservation to over 1,200 people in 2018 alone. Classrooms Across Borders is an exciting new project connecting students in the Willamette Valley of Oregon
with students in the Rio Laja watershed near Guanajuato, Mexico, over their shared migratory birds. We’re grateful for over $5,000 in private donations
raised in late 2018 to enhance the project and include more kids. Volunteer days are already on IAE’s calendar if you’d like to help students in Corvallis get their hands dirty and learn about ecology in English and Spanish.
- Taking a bite out of weeds
Removing invasive plants is a major component of the work in our 1,340 acres in restoration. Our Invasive Species Cook-off raises awareness of the scourge of invasive plants in the community. The bar was raised in 2018 with a sold-out Cook-off at Harris Bridge Vineyard! 240 people came out to enjoy invasives cooked up by Chef Jacob Oliver of Kalamata Bistro, such as Greek salad with chicory flowers and dandelion root, sheep sorrel country beans, and Himalayan blackberry melomakarona. Activities for kids of all ages included henna, face painting, and a custom invasive carp piñata. With our generous local
business sponsorships, the Cook-off raised over $3500 for our work.
- Saving the Sagebrush in Prisons Project
The Institute for Applied Ecology is thankful for support of our Sagebrush in Prisons Project, with over $35,000 in private donations bridging a crucial gap in funding in 2018. With these private contributions and funding from the Bureau of Land Management, Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, we were able to save the project! The project engaged 468 inmates in seven prisons in Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho, with a total of 178 inmates receiving certificates in 2018. This project rehabilitates critical Greater Sage-Grouse habitat and provides vocational training for inmates. Ecological Education Program Director Stacy Moore was recognized with a Difference Maker Award from TIAA, a nationwide financial institution, for her tireless work on this project. As an outgrowth of this project, IAE’s Southwest office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is initiating a Nature in Prisons project to engage inmates in habitat restoration in the region.
- Science and Research
As an organization, we value communication of our scientific research findings. When not collecting data, our hardworking staff can be found collaborating on projects and sharing their results in peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2018, we published papers on these topics:
- Seed Dormancy and Germination Vary Within and Among Species of Milkweeds
- Development of Techniques to Improve Coastal Prairie Restoration on the Clatsop Plains, Oregon
- New Research and BMPs in Natural Areas: A Synthesis of Pollinator Management
- Identifying native plants for coordinated habitat management of arthropod pollinators, herbivores and natural enemies
Taking a look back on our 2018 milestones reinvigorates us to accomplish even more for our 20th anniversary year! We hope you’ll join us as a volunteer, as a member/donor, or at the Cook-off or hike. Thank you for being a voice for the silent native ecosystems that support us all.