Restoration Best Practices: Developing an Ecological Restoration Plan

Are you planning on engaging in ecological restoration on your land? If so, an important first step is to develop a plan. It doesn’t have to be complex, but it is important to outline your plans, methods, and timeline so that you can keep on track and do the best you can for the area to be restored. Another reason to have an ecological restoration plan in place is to be able to share information with any agencies that you might be looking for support from. Additionally, the Rogue Native Plant Partnership’s annual native seed sale (next occurring in Fall 2020) requires seed buyers to have a basic restoration plan in place so that we know the hard-to-come-by seed is going to be used productively. 

Below we have laid out the information that is useful to have in your restoration plan. We encourage you to use this opportunity to learn as much about your land as you can – about the soil, plants, historical impacts, wildlife habitat potential, and anything else you can dive into – it’s a great way to get more connected to your land and be able to do your best in enhancing plant and wildlife biodiversity. You can also download an example restoration plan here (Word document).

Introduction to the land:

Details of area/s of land to be restored (if more than one area, write up each set of details separately):

  • Location of area to be restored within land parcel (add a map if possible)
  • Current condition of area to be restored
  • List weed and native plant species – you can use apps like Google Lens and iNaturalist to help with identification.
  • List current and potential impacts on area to be restored (eg. weed drift from neighbors, too much sunlight on riparian zone) 
  • Describe restoration goals (eg. I want to remove the weeds from the creek banks and replant with natives to create shade for the water, or, I want to remove invasive grasses from my woodlands and increase the number of native grass and herb species that will benefit native pollinators)
  • Describe methods to be used in restoring area & timeline for each part of the process. Click on the links below for more information on each process. 
  • Timeline for every restoration phase

Any special considerations that need to be accounted for, eg.:

  • Oregon Dept. Fish & Wildlife plans required for certain riparian zones
  • Historical sites that may require protection

Additions:

  • Include list of observed native and weed plant species
  • Include list of observed wildlife on land
  • Include any relevant photos – eg. photos of area to be restored. Make sure to take after photos! 

Useful Documents: the Rogue Native Plant Partnership Resources Library is a fantastic place to learn more about a range of topics related to ecological restoration, from weed removal to harvesting native seed to growing native plants in containers, and much more. Here are a few documents we thought might be particularly useful for when you are writing an ecological restoration plan:

Native Plant Grower Profile: Taylor Starr from White Oak Farm & Education Center

We recently caught up with Taylor Starr, co-founder and Executive Director of White Oak Farm & Education Center in Williams, OR. Taylor is one of the growers of the native plants we are currently selling through our RNPP Spring Plant Sale (ending April 16). Before moving to Oregon, Taylor worked as a farmer, landscaper, and teacher in Northern California and Washington State.  He has taught children organic gardening, natural history, and life sciences, and taught ecosystemology at UC Berkeley.  He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Holistic Ecology in 2000.  Taylor grew up near the shores of Puget Sound, where he developed a love of the natural world through annual family backpacking trips in the Cascades and Olympics.  He currently directs things at White Oak, farms a wide range of fruits and veggies, teaches permaculture and sustainable living skills to kids and adults, and plays as much soccer as he can with his eight-year-old daughter.

Can you tell us a bit about your native plant growing business and how you started out in this line of work? 

Taylor: We run White Oak Farm & Education Center in Williams on 62 acres, where we have been for 18 years. We have been organic farming and running an environmental education center, mostly for kids but also for adults, focused on sustainable living skills, growing food and ecology. We’ve always had our own nursery for growing plants for our farm – for propagating fruit trees, berries, and hedgerow plants. But about six or seven years ago we started getting inquiries from people in the community about buying plants from us, so we started to ramp up production for local folks and that was pretty popular and successful, and got us excited about growing more plants. About two and a half years ago we started thinking about how we could make it a bigger part of the financial picture for supporting our organization and the farm, and what that might look like. I started researching around the valley and talking to different folks in the nursery trade, and especially focusing on small nurseries and what the niche was, what markets were underserved and what kind of opportunities existed. 

I met James Kramer from Silver Springs Nursery and he really got me excited about focusing on native plants, and specifically focusing on native plants for restoration, which fitted in really well with what we were doing on the land. We were growing native plants for our own restoration projects here on the property for erosion control. Mostly uplands plantings, but some riparian projects as well. So I had a little bit of experience with natives, and a lot of enthusiasm. I’m an avid outdoor person and backpacker, so I was really excited about partnering with James, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years. We are mostly doing wholesale, but also growing for local nurseries and for the local community. We are really pretty new in the world of native plant commercial production, and it’s a really steep learning curve, we’re learning lots, and are excited to just dig in deeper. We’ve been expanding a good bit each year. This year I’ve got about 1600 sq feet of greenhouse space, and that much again of shaded growing space, and trying to grow a wide diversity of native plants and see what does best for us, and what the most demand is for, and go from there. 

Speaking of big learning curves, what are some of the biggest challenges you face with growing and selling native plants? 

Taylor: The biggest challenges we face in growing native plants is the transition from organic farming – where I have two decades of experience and everything is old hat and basic and simple – to the natives where every species has very specific requirements for germination, and very specific protocols as far as stratification and seed collecting protocols. You can’t just order locally adapted native plant seed from the catalog the way you can with vegetable seed. Every step of the process is much more complex and much more self-reliant. If I want seed for something I pretty much need to go out and find it myself in the wild, or partner with James or Holly Mills, another growing partner we have on these projects. 

Everything from seed collection all the way through to germination and growing the plants out is very specific for each species. I like that part of it because it’s a challenge, and it’s fun to have the challenge and feel like the success are bigger successes, but there’s definitely a lack of information about some of the protocols for these species, as well as the challenge of finding the seed and making sure the seed is viable and getting good germination.

On the selling side, I know the Rogue Native Plant Partnership is working on this issue, but being someone new in the world of commercial native plant marketing, it feels like there’s a little bit of a disconnect between the restoration project managers and the native plant growers. It’s going to be at least 12 months from seed collection to having the finished plant, so ideally 12 months ahead of time I would know, ok, there’s this much demand for this species, and this much demand for this other species, and I’m finding it’s a little hard to get that timing and demand information from the local players who implement the restoration projects. So that’s the biggest challenge, just knowing what the market is, and what plants are good to grow because there’s going to be a market for them down the road. There’s a little bit of security in knowing you can just keep watering them and hopefully there’s a demand for them the following year. It’s not like lettuce, where if you don’t sell it that week, it’s gone. 

On the flip side, what do you see as some of the biggest benefits to growing native plants as a commercial grower?

Taylor: The fact that within the restoration movement, and even the home gardeners and landscapers, it feels like there’s growing awareness and enthusiasm about the importance of planting drought-tolerant plants, planting to provide habitat for pollinators and other native species. It seems like there’s growing awareness about the importance of that, so it feels like a good time to be growing native plants. There’s only going to be more awareness and more enthusiasm for doing more restoration work. Obviously there’s plenty of landscapes that need restoration, so there’s no lack of demand from a purely restoration standpoint. From an economic standpoint there’s more awareness of how if we don’t take long term care of our riparian areas especially, the economic costs are going to be far greater than the cost of doing this work. I feel like it’s only going to grow over time as people become more educated.

For me – coming from a world of more annuals and food-based crops – I have more flexibility if things don’t sell at a certain time because native plants are still going to maintain their value as long as I can keep them watered and healthy in the pots. It feels like there’s a little more security as far as the value being maintained in the plants over time. 

Also I really like it because, labor-wise, there’s a lot of seeding work and seed collecting work in the fall, and through the winter there’s work with cuttings, and in the early spring there’s more seeding and greenhouse work. So it balances out really well with the annual vegetable and perennial fruit-producing season, which is busier in the spring and summer and the early fall. It works really well for me in terms of keeping folks on the farm employed throughout the season and having some income-producing projects happening on the farm during the winter months. It pairs really nicely for us with the farming. 

I know we’re not meant to have favorites, but do you have any native plants that you particularly love growing?

Taylor: I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to have favorites! It’s funny because I was thinking about that, and it really depends on the day, you know? I get a lot of satisfaction from growing big trees. We named our farm White Oak Farm because we have a couple of grandmother oaks on the property that are just super inspiring because I know they have been there for hundreds of years. The oak tree is such a keystone species in Southern Oregon, for food production for animals and habitat, and a food source for humans over the centuries. So I love planting oaks and acorns. Last year we did a big acorn collection project with some school kids who came out to the farm and collected thousands of acorns from two of our biggest acorn producing oaks. Unfortunately, we were going to plant them with the kids this spring during spring school visits, but of course like everyone else right now, our lives are a little bit topsy turvy so there’s no kids here to plant the acorns with us. So we’re planting them ourselves. 

I love to grow oaks and all the other big trees – our maple seedlings are two inches tall right now in their little pots and that’s super satisfying. I’ve also been really enjoying some of the shrubby species, the dogwoods and willows this winter have been great to work with. I love elderberry, so experimenting with seedlings and cuttings with elderberries is really satisfying. So a wide range are favorites depending on the day and what I’m working on.

Gardeners sometimes look to native plants as more likely to be deer-proof, but I’ve certainly discovered that’s not always the case. Have you discovered any native plants that you think are truly, really, actually, 100% deer-proof?

Taylor: One of my first jobs, when I was in high school in the summer time, was working for a local nursery and landscaper up in Washington, and one of the first things he said was, “Never tell a customer that something is 100% deer-proof because I can guarantee the deer will eat that plant the first week it goes in the ground.” I think deer have been eating native plants for as long as there’s been deer, so I don’t know that there’s anything specific to native plants that makes them less likely to be popular with the deer. I’ve seen deer eat almost anything, I think it just depends on the time of year. 

In the summer, when it’s so dry up in the hills and the deer come down to the irrigated yards and the edges of the irrigated zones, they are just so hungry for anything that’s got moisture in it. I would say that the less irrigated the area, I’ve noticed the deer are less likely to browse. They really smell the water, so the faster growing, the more well-watered and fertilized the plant, the more likely they are to eat it, as far as I’ve been able to notice. 

When talking to gardeners and land stewards, what do you most often find yourself saying to encourage them to purchase and grow native plants?

Taylor: I’m a terrible marketer so I don’t know if I necessarily say anything to anybody to try and encourage them to do anything! People are just going to do what they are going to do. I take the approach that, hey, I’m here growing these things, if you want them that’s great. I’d love to sell them to you. There’s so many benefits that are so obvious, from drought-tolerant to habitat creation. I feel like the pollinator angle has gained a lot more awareness over the last few years, and it’s been cool to see customers ask about that and think about that more. But I’m a big fan of hedgerows in general, and trying to encourage people to plant hedgerows for privacy, for shade, for habitat, for the pollinators, for hopefully some products that people can harvest as well. Maybe berries for medicine, maybe basketry materials, or browse for animals. There’s just so many benefits to planting natives, and I feel like the people I usually find myself talking to about this stuff already know it’s a good idea, and it’s more about helping them to get what’s the right thing for their site. I think that there’s definitely growing enthusiasm for planting natives and I think that’s really exciting. 

Do you have any tips for people that want to propagate native plants for their own use? Or as a business?

Taylor: I would probably say the same advice for both situations, which is just to start experimenting. That’s how we started doing the nursery on a commercial basis. It was just years of experimenting and growing plants for ourselves to plant out on the farm and seeing what we enjoyed growing without having to invest a lot of money or a lot of time into infrastructure. Playing around with different species and experimenting, and then seeing if it’s something you like to do and something you can see having economic potential. I think just starting out by diving in and doing things on a small scale, and not being afraid to fail. 

Going out and seeing what kind of seeds you can collect in your neighborhood or on your own land, and playing around with it, seems like the best way to approach it from the small scale home nursery perspective. But even if you’re thinking about doing something commercial, I think messing around with it on a small scale makes a lot of sense before diving in and spending a bunch of money on infrastructure. Because it does take having the greenhouse space and having the controlled environment to work with, and having the irrigation, and having the pots or the soil. For us, because we were coming from farming, we already had a lot of those things in place and we were able to repurpose this corner of the greenhouse or repurpose pots, and slowly build up the infrastructure to run the nursery as its own little business. At least for me, that was a good way to do it because it lessened the risk of tackling something that could prove to not be successful, and made it easier to slowly get going. I would just experiment, I think that’s the best way to get into nearly any new activity. 

Learn more about White Oak Farm & Education Center on their website and Facebook page

ODFW Riparian Lands Tax Incentive Program: Manual for Landowners

Author: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Date: 2019

The Riparian Lands Tax Incentive Program (RLTIP), administered by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW, referred to as the Department throughout this document), is a cooperative effort involving county and city governments with other partners to help private landowners voluntarily conserve and rehabilitate riparian zones. The program offers landowners a full property tax exemption for riparian lands up to 100ft from a stream, provided landowners file and meet the terms of a riparian management plan to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate the riparian land on their property.

This document provides an outline of the restoration / rehabilitation plan that needs to be in place to apply for the tax exemption.

Download (PDF): Riparian Lands Tax Incentive Program: Manual for Landowners (741KB)

International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration

Author: Society for Ecological Restoration Date: 2019

Ecological restoration, when implemented effectively and sustainably, contributes to protecting biodiversity; improving human health and wellbeing; increasing food and water security; delivering goods, services, and economic prosperity; and supporting climate change mitigation, resilience, and adaptation. It is a solutions-based approach that engages communities, scientists, policymakers, and land managers to repair ecological damage and rebuild a healthier relationship between people and the rest of nature. When combined with conservation and sustainable use, ecological restoration is the link needed to move local, regional, and global environmental conditions from a state of continued degradation, to one of net positive improvement. The second edition of the International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration (the Standards) presents a robust framework for restoration projects to achieve intended goals, while addressing challenges including effective design and implementation, accounting for complex ecosystem dynamics (especially in the context of climate change), and navigating trade-offs associated with land management priorities and decisions.

Download (PDF): International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration (11 MB)

An Introduction to Using Native Plants in Restoration Projects

Author: US Environmental Protection Agency Date: 2002

This introductory document covers topics including: why use native plants?, planning a native plant project, site evaluation, choosing appropriate species, sourcing seeds and plants, preparing the site, weed control, planting techniques, caring for the site, monitoring, and more.

Download PDF: An Introduction to Using Native Plants in Restoration Projects (805 KB)

Rogue Basin Ecological Restoration Projects Review

A number of RNPP Partners are working on important ecological restoration projects in the Rogue Basin, and have shared information with us about their process and progress, including the species of native seeds used, and methods they have used for site preparation and ongoing care and monitoring. This information is shared with the intention of providing useful information to those wanting to start their own ecological restoration project in the Rogue Basin.

This table will be updated with more information as these ecological restoration projects progress, and with new restoration projects that RNPP partners undertake. 

Location & Habitats Present

Key Restoration Purposes

Plant Species Used (seed)

Site Preparation Methods

Seeding Method

Monitoring Methods

Notes

Location: Ashland, private property, valley floor

Habitat: Pasture & riparian


3.3 acres

Hazard fuels reduction, wildlife habitat enhancement, invasives mitigation, riparian restoration, restoring burn area

*Achyrachaena mollis
*Clarkia purpurea ssp. viminea
*Poa secunda
*Pseudoroegneria spicata

Removal of flammable brush along driveway and near structures, and removal of invasive species in pasture and riparian zones using tools and physical labor.

Hand seeding

Regular visual surveys

Achyrachaena mollis: Mid-november 2018 broadcast, have not seen any survival. Pseudoroegneria spicata: Mid-november 2018 broadcast in field, some germination and survival. Poa secunda: Broadcast fall last 2018, germinated fairly well, appreciated water during the 2019 summer. Clarkia purpurea ssp. viminea: Mid-november broadcast, good germination, not certain if it persisted to going to seed.

Location: Sams Valley (Gold Hill), private property, oak woodland & mixed conifer forest.

Habitat:  Riparian, mixed conifer forest & oak woodland

20 acres

Small diameter tree removal, invasives mitigation, hazard fuels reduction, wildlife habitat enhancement

*Achillea millefolium
*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Achyrachaena mollis
*Agoseris grandiflora
*Bromus laevipes
*Castilleja tenuis
*Clarkia purpurea ssp. purpurea
*Collinsia grandiflora
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Escholzia caespitosa
*Festuca californica
*Festuca roemeri
*Grindelia nana
*Lasthenia california *Madia elegans ssp. densifolia
*Penstemon anguineus
*Pseudoroegneria spicata
*Rupertia physodes
*Wyethia angustifolia

Removal of invasives by hand pulling and weed wrench, removing small diameter trees, limbing up remaining trees, chipping woody residue to remain in forest, planting native vegetation cover (seeds and shrubs).

Hand seeding. Fescues with rake and foot trod in some areas. Hand-mixes of seeds boot-stomped in before hand-made cages put around woody native shrubs. Some broadcasting,

Seeding in winters 2018-19 and 2019-20. Several species will be seeded in winter 2020-21.

Regular visual surveys, at least weekly during new native shrub watering season, May- October 2019. Photographing wildflowers blooming when spotted.

Most of 5 bunchgrass species held back and seeded in winter 2019-2020.

Flower species and grasses all compete with Scotch broom seedbank that continues, as well as Himalayan blackberry.

Location: Little Butte Creek, Eagle Point. City of Eagle Point, Medford Water Comission & Bureau of Land Management partnership 

Habitat:  Riparian

2 acres

Flood plain restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement, invasives mitigation, riparian restoration, improved water quality, improved native plant biodiversity

*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Achillea millefolium
*Asclepias fascicularis
*Clarkia purpurea ssp. viminea
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca californica
*Festuca roemeri

Recontouring of bank slopes, log jams buried in banks, blackberry and reed canary grass removal, regrading of previously blocked creek channel, and planting and seeding of native plants.

Location: Rogue River property of Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife 

Habitat: Riparian

Restoring burned area

*Elymus glaucus
*Pseudoroegneria spicata

Leaves removed to expose bare earth before seeding

Seed broadcast and raked into earth. Hay applied to cover seeded bare earth.

Plot development and monitoring

A 50 x 100 foot plot was established on 11-9-2018. Leaves were removed to expose the bare soil and the seeds were raked into the ground. The plot was treated with 6 lbs per acre (.70 lbs) of Elymus glaucus. On 1/3 of the short side of each plot (16.5 x 100 feet), an additional 6 lbs per acre (.23 lbs) was applied. On ½ of the long side of the plot (50 x 50 feet), hay was applied to cover the bare ground. Didn’t get final pictures but it sounds like the seed didn’t take very well. A 10 ft x 10 ft test plot of Pseudoroegneria spicata was created nearby on 11-9-2018. Leaves were raked to remove the bare soil, seeds applied, raked in, and the soil was left bare. No luck here either.

Private Property assisted by ODFW

Restoring burned area

*Elymus glaucus
*Melica hartfordii

Seed to be broadcast Fall 2019

Location: Denman Wildlife Area (ODFW)

Habitat: Riparian & meadow

7 acres

Restoring burned area

*Achillea millifolium
*Bromus californicus
*Elymus glaucus
*Lotus crassicaulis
*Melica hartfordii
*Psoralea simplex

No-till seed drill

Visual surveys

Only 4-5 passes were made on the outer edges of the meadow with the no-till seed drill, because application rate was too high starting off. No seed was applied in the center of the meadow, or in areas with high density of blackberry. Some seed did well (BRCA) but there’s still a lot of non-native competition. Didn’t see any LOCRA.

Location:  Rogue River Preserve (Southern Oregon Land Conservancy).

Habitat: Riparian and oak woodlands / savanna

352 acres

Invasives mitigation and restoring disturbed areas

*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Elymus glaucus
*Festuca californica

Disturb soil before seeding

Spread seed on disturbed soil in winter after weed removal

Visual surveys

The Elymus has not come up at the Japanese knotweed site, but other bunchgrasses are coming up along the roadside.

Location: Sampson Creek Preserve (Selberg Institute).

Habitat: Upland meadows, oak woodlands

4800 acres

Pollinator habitat enhancement, invasives mitigation

Purchased seed: *Achillea millefolium
*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Agoseris grandiflora
*Asclepias fasicularis
*Asclepias speciosa
*Clarkia purpurea
*Danthonia californica
*Elymus glaucus
*Festuca roemeri
*Lomatium californicum
*Lupinus microcarpus
*Madia elegans
Seed Collected on site:
*Achillea millefolium
*Amesikia meniesii
*Asclepias fasicularis
*Brodiea elegans
*Bromus carinatus
*Bromus leavipes
*Calochortus tolmiei
*Cirsium ciliolatum
*Clarkia purpurea
*Clarkia gracilis
*Cynoglossum grande
*Dichelostemma congestum
*Elymus glaucus
*Epilobium brachycarpum
*Ericameria nauseosa
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca californica
*Festuca roemeri
*Frittilaria affinis
*Lomatium californicum
*Lomatium nudicaule
*Lomatium utriculatum
*Lomatium macrocarpum
*Lomatium Triternatum
*Lupinus microcarpus
*Madia elegans
*Madia gracilis
*Sanicula crassicaulis
*Stipa lemmonii
*Toxicoscordion venenosus
*Triteleia hendersonii
*Wyethia angustifolia

Weed whacking in area where planting happened, prescribed burn in area where seed was broadcast

Broadcast after prescribed burn

Test site within the prescribed burn area is being monitored for seed germination success

Location: Bear Creek near Pine Street in Central Point (Rogue Valley Council of Governments)

Habitat:  Riparian

20 acres

Restoring burned area and improving native plant biodiversity

*Achillea millefolium
*Amsinckia menziesii
*Asclepias fascicularis
*Bromus carinatus
*Bromus laevipes
*Bromus laevipes
*Clarkia purpurea
*Elymus glaucus
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca roemeri
*Grindelia nana

Spot spraying blackberry with herbicide

Broadcast seeding, using straw / mulch to cover

Monthly observation monitoring to check native plant and invasive growth

Location: Kane Creek / Stage Rd Culvert Replacement (The Freshwater Trust)

Habitat:  Riparian

Restoring disturbed area, improved water quality, improved wildlife habitat, invasives mitigation

*Achillea millefolium
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca roemeri

Treatment of invasives with herbicide

Broadcast seeding

Photo point, qualitative, and quantitative monitoring will be conducted on the project site.

Location: Hwy 99 Applegate River Bridge (The Freshwater Trust)

Habitat:  Riparian

Restoring disturbed area, improved water quality, improved wildlife habitat, invasives mitigation

*Achillea millefolium
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemeri
*Festuca californica

Treatment of invasives with herbicide

Broadcast seeding

Photo point, qualitative, and quantitative monitoring will be conducted on the project site.

Location: Whetstone Savana Preserve Vernal Pool Ash Swale (The Freshwater Trust)

Habitat: Oak savanna, prairie and vernal pools

Restoring disturbed area, improved water quality, improved wildlife habitat, invasives mitigation

Manual, mechanical and chemical forms of weed suppression (with extra care being used in use of chemicals)

The bare ground between plantings will be seeded with a site-appropriate native species mix.

In person site assessments and qualitative monitoring will be used to adaptively manage the site

Location:  Eagle Point solar farm (Understory Consulting)

Habitat: Pasture / prairie

45 acres

Improved native plant biodiversity, improved wildlife habitat, invasives mitigation

*Achillea millefolium
*Agoseris grandiflora
*Amsinckia menziesii
*Asclepias fascicularis
*Camassia quamash
*Carex densa
*Carex pachystachya
*Carex tumulicola
*Clarkia purpurea
*Collinsia grandiflora
*Cynoglossum grande
*Daucus pusillus
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca roemeri
*Gillia capitata
*Grindelia nana
*Hemizonia fitchii
*Helianthus bolanderi
*Juncus tenuis
*Lomatium utriculatum
*Lupinus adsurgens
*Lupinus bicolor
*Lupinus microcarpus
*Madia elegans
*Navarretia intertextata
*Plagiobothrys figuratus
*Ranunculus austrooreganus
*Wyethia angustifolia

Herbicide, mowing, box scraping

Drill seeding, broadcast seeding

Quadrats arranged on a grid throughout the property

After one year, invasive grass cover decreased by about 99%. However, that was mostly replaced by invasive annual forbs along with some of the native species that we seeded. Native cover only increased by about 3%. Follow-up treatments will include pre-emergent herbicide to try and limit the germination of annual weeds and kill the seed bank. Additional native seeding, including more grasses will occur after the weed seed bank is acceptable exhausted.

Location:  Medford foothills (Pacific Slope Consulting) 

Habitat: Oak woodlands, oak savanna, mixed woodlands

70 acres

Hazard fuels reduction, wildlife habitat enhancement, small diameter tree removal, improved native plant biodiversity

Small pile burning

Hand seeding

Growing season species tally for 1 - 2 years following seeding

Location: Medford Water Commission Vernal Pools Preserve (Terra Science Inc)

Habitat: Meadow / prairie, vernal pools, wetland

17 acres

Invasives mitigation, improved water quality, improved native plant biodiversity, restoring disturbed area

*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Achyrachaena mollis
*Amsinckia menziesii
*Clarkia purpurea ssp. purpurea
*Danthonia californica
*Poa secunda
*Pseudoroegneria spicata

Prescribed burn (every five years). Shallow discing of uplands prior to broadcast.

Hand seeding

Revisit annual vegetation plots; square meter vegetation analysis during peak bloom periods.

Upland mound data assessment compared pre-burn baseline vegetation communities to post fire and seed introduction. Analysis documents a 91.9% reduction of invasive Taeniatherum caput medusa with a 188.4% increase of native species atop mound landforms.

Location: Rogue Valley Manor, Medford

Habitat: Meadow / prairie

1 acre

Post construction restoration, improve native plant biodiversity

*Achnatherum lemmonii
*Achillea millefolium
*Achyrachaena mollis
*Amsinckia menziesii
*Clarkia purpurea
*Collinsia grandiflora
*Daucus pusillus
*Eriophyllum lanatum
*Festuca roemeri
*Koeleria macrantha
*Lupinus microcarpus

Equipment grading

Broadcast seeding in the Fall

Visual surveys

Location: US Army Corp of Engineers site in Trail, OR

Habitat: Pasture, oak savanna, riparian, mixed woodlands, recent burn, oak woodlands

300 acres

Hazard fules reduction, restoring burned area, invasives mitigation, small diameter tree removal, improved native plant biodiversity

Varies, minimal site prep due to lack of funds / staffing resources

Hand seeding

Visual surveys

Location: Whetstone Savanna Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) 

Habitat: Oak woodlands, oak savanna, meadow / prairie, wetland

220 acres

Restoring burned area, invasives mitigation, improved native plant biodiversity

Prescribed fire and harrowing

Hand seeding

Quadrat monitoring and photo points. At a minimum, assess plant guilds such as native annual forbs, non-native annual grasses.

Location:  Sterling Creek, private property.

Habitat: Mixed woodlands, oak woodlands

11 acres

Small diameter tree removal, restoring disturbed areas, improving native plant biodiversity, invasives mitigation, improving wildlife habitat

*Achyrachaena mollis
*Bromus laevipes
*Festuca californica
*Festuca roemeri
*Festuca subulata
*Koeleria cristata
*Melica harfordii
*Pseudognaphalium canescens
*Stipa lemmonii + a range of native herb seeds collected on site

Small pile burning, mechanical removal of invasives

Raking ground before and after hand seeding, including directly into remains of burn pile sites

Visual surveys and photos

February Native Plant of the Month: Snow Queen

RNPP has a Native Plant of the Month column in the Rogue Basin Partnership newsletter! You can find the full RBP February newsletter here, and our Native Plant of the Month Column copied below.

Snow Queen (Synthyris reniformis) can be seen blossoming close to the ground in coniferous forests and woodlands from early February, making it one of the earliest native blooms to be seen each year in southern Oregon. But it can be very easily overlooked at only 2-6 inches tall, with flowers varying from white to blue to purple, so keep your eyes on the ground if you want to spot them. I noticed this lovely specimen (pictured) on the Sterling Mine Ditch trail near the Little Applegate recently, and once I noticed this plant, I suddenly realized they were everywhere!

There are six varieties of Synthyris (in the Figwort family) in Oregon, but the Snow queen is the species most commonly found at low to mid elevations. It is native to the Pacific NW, from the Puget Sound in Washington, to Northern California. With its flowers arriving so early, the Snow queen is an important source of food for pollinators and nectar eaters. This adds to the many reasons why the perennial Snow queen can be a great choice for planting in your garden.

Written by Lilia Letsch, Rogue Native Plant Partnership

Restoration Best Practices: Site Preparation Methods

Welcome to the first post in our new series about best practices in ecological restoration. Through this series we hope to provide an accessible but thorough outline of the most important elements of implementing ecological restoration projects. Nearly everything to do with ecological restoration is complex, and there is still a lot of research being done into best practices, so it is important to keep an eye open for new information. Our goal is to outline the basics, and point you in the direction of more detailed information if you choose to go in depth on any topics.

We are starting our ecological restoration best practices series with a focus on site preparation. The importance of site preparation is often underestimated but can have a huge impact on the success of your restoration project. If you would like to go more in depth into a range of site preparation issues, we highly recommend the Xerces Society “Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment” document.

Timing

Seeds:

The time of year that you choose to disperse native plant seeds at your restoration site is extremely important. Native plant seeding usually happens either in the fall or spring in the Pacific Northwest. In Southern Oregon, fall is generally the best time to get seeds in the ground, as it gives time for in-ground stratification (cold treatment) and mimics the seeding cycles of most native plants. Early spring can also be a hard time to do site preparation if the ground is too wet, or covered in snow! But spring seeding is still a good option if site preparation is possible and the seeds you are using don’t require a deep winter stratification.

Containerized Plants:

Planting potted native plants is generally best done in the fall to provide time for settling and root growth, but early spring is an option if the ground is not too frozen and supplemental water can be provided if spring rains are not sufficient.

Surveying Your Site

Recording the plants that already exist on your site is a great opportunity to better know the plants, their needs, and ways the native plants can be protected during the site preparation phase of your project. You can just write down a list in a notebook, or keep a spreadsheet where you can update information about shifts in flowering, seeding and other interesting observations you make. It’s also a really good idea to keep a record of any weeds you can identify and get to know their lifecycles, best times of year to work on removing them, and the best practices for how to reduce their impact on your restoration site.

Weed Removal

Inadequate weed suppression can have massive impacts on the success of your ecological restoration project. For most weeds, an important control method is removing or cutting back the plant before it goes to seed. Different weed plants tend to require a variety of removal methods, used in progression. Some of these methods include solarization and sheet mulching, mowing, flame weeding or burning, and selective and careful herbicide (incl. organic) use. To dive further into best practices for removing some of our most detrimental weeds in Southern Oregon, check out these documents:

Solarization and sheet mulching: these methods are best used for smaller sites without steep slopes. Solarization utilizes large sheets of clear UV-stable plastic to cover an area containing weeds for 2-6 months in warmer climates, and up to 6 months in colder climates. Many trials have shown solarization to be an extremely successful method of weed removal, as the heat that builds up under the plastic not only kills plants, but also any weed seed bank that has built up in the soil. Occultation is a variation on solarization, where thick black plastic tarps are used to cut of access to sunlight, and produce large amounts of heat. Sheet mulching is useful in areas that are too shady for solarization to be effective, or in areas where laying out a large piece of plastic is impractical due to landscape features. Sheet mulching involves layering nitrogen and carbon based materials to smother weeds and stop the seed bank from being able to germinate. For example, a layer of nitrogen-based material (eg. animal or plant composted materials, pellets, meals, grass clippings) is then topped with a layer of carbon-based material (eg. cardboard, paper, sawdust, woodbark), and then these layers are repeated 1-2 more times, making sure that a heavier carbon-based material is on top to hold everything down. 

Occultation with silage tarps at Jackson County OSU Extension

Mowing: this can be a very useful tool in ensuring a weed population doesn’t get to produce seed. For most weeds, using a mower or weed wacker to remove any seed heads before they -are pollinated is a fast and efficient way to deplete the plant’s ability to reproduce. That said, it can be hard to time mowing so that the plant doesn’t have the time and energy to enter into the flowering stage again, while also navigating any fire season restrictions on cutting dry grass. This method involves getting to know your weeds and their reproductive cycle well, and should be used in tandem with other weed control methods.

Hand-held flame weeder

Fire: flame weeders are an excellent resource for spring-time weed control. They must be used with great caution and attendance to fire restrictions, but they are an efficient and targeted method for removing weeds without impacting surrounding native plants. If you have a large area that would benefit from prescribed fire, get in touch with your local prescribed fire practitioners to see if there are any opportunities available for this work to be done on your land by trained professionals. In Southern Oregon, The Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network may be able to point you toward prescribed fire resources.

Smother cover crops: in areas where weed pressure is low to moderate, cover crops can be used to smother weed plants. Smother cover crops can also improve soil health and provide temporary forage for wildlife, including pollinators. This technique is best used on farmland or pasture that has access to irrigation and farming equipment. Certain varieties of buckwheat, sorghum, millet, oats, rye and vetch can be planted. Depending on the cover crop planted, they can not only compete aggressively with weeds for space, but also alter the nutrients in the soil and release allelopathic substances into the soil to make it undesirable for weed germination and growth. Timing and duration of the cover crop also varies depending upon species, but is very important to ensure that weed suppression is maximized.  

Herbicides: using synthetic herbicides to control weeds is a very contentious issue, but best practices generally determine that they should be used as a last resort, and in a very targeted and well-planned manner. This is particularly important in riparian zones where herbicides can make their way into the aquatic ecosystem. Herbicides alone are rarely able to control the most problematic weeds, and should be considered part of a regime that involves other weed control methods. There are some organic herbicides available to use, and successful use depends on targeted plant species. For more information it is worth checking out the “Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds and Herbicides” and “Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects” documents produced by the Xerces Society.

Ground Disturbance

If you are utilizing native seeds in your restoration project, gentle ground disturbance is a useful step to take just before you are set to distribute the seed. It helps the seed penetrate the soil more rapidly and protect it from being washed elsewhere by rain, and from browsing wildlife (birds love seed!).

Site preparation: raking in the Ashland watershed

Raking: this is a great method for restoration projects in woodlands, forest floors, sloped locations and small areas being seeded. Hand raking disturbs the ground enough to allow seed to get into the soil, but doesn’t disturb soil structure or existing native plants as much as more intensive ground disturbance. It also allows you to easily avoid any preexisting native plants that you are trying to protect.

Light tillage: you can also use a small tiller / cultivator to prepare an area for seeding. This is particularly useful in pasture and farmland. If you have a weed issues, this is a method that should be considered carefully, as ground disturbance can expose weed seed banks in the soil to the ideal conditions for growth.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post about best practices in native plant seeding for your ecological restoration project! Don’t forget that we are always updating the Rogue Native Plant Partnership Resources Library with new useful resources for ecological restoration projects – from backyards to woodlands and everything in between!

More Useful Site Preparation Resources

January Native Plant of the Month: Snowberry

RNPP has started writing a new Native Plant of the Month column for the Rogue Basin Partnership newsletter! You can find the full RBP January newsletter here, and our Native Plant of the Month Column copied below.

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is a common deciduous shrub, growing 3-6’ in riparian, swamp, moist meadow and open forest habitats, from sea to middle elevations. What makes it so lovely at this time of year is that it’s leafless stems are graced with clusters of bright white berries that sharply stand out against the winter landscape.

Snowberry is in the Honeysuckle family, and just like Honeysuckle berries, they are not edible to humans. The whole plant is toxic to humans, although records show that Native Americans have used the berries medicinally for a variety of purposes, and the stems for arrow shafts.

The berries have a mild saponin content, which produces foam when mixed with water. The whole plant is excellent grazing for wild and domestic animals, and birds enjoy the berries and cover that the shrubs provide. Birds also disperse the seeds widely, although the plant’s main reproductive method is to sprout new shoots from its spreading rhizome. As a result, you can often see it growing in quite substantial thickets, which provide great cover for small mammals.

If you are looking to replant a disturbed or eroded site, Snowberry is a great choice due it’s relatively fast growth and rhizomatous spreading. It grows in full sun, but tends to prefer some shade, and well-drained soil.

Written by Lilia Letsch, Rogue Native Plant Partnership

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds, and Herbicides

Author: Xerces Society Date: 2019

Monarch butterflies are in decline in North America, and restoring monarch habitat, including roadsides, is important to the species’ recovery. Monarch caterpillars require milkweed (primarily in the genus Asclepias) to complete their development. A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and monarchs lay their eggs readily on milkweed plants in roadsides and consume nectar from milkweed flowers.

Roadsides provide more than just milkweed. They can also provide diverse nectar sources to feed adult monarchs and other pollinators—but ensuring that roadsides can continue to provide the best habitat requires some thought and care. This guide highlights best management practices to reduce the impacts of herbicides on monarchs.

Download PDF: Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds, and Herbicides (548KB)

Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

 Author: Xerces Society Date: 2018

Organic agriculture generally supports higher biodiversity than conventional management, and organic farms can play an important role in protecting and supporting bees and other beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes. Many organic operations already have good numbers of wild bees, as well as predators and parasitoids that attack crop pests. These beneficial species may provide most or all necessary crop pollination and pest control services when adequate habitat is available and preventive non-chemical pest management practices are implemented.

Unfortunately, however, even pesticides allowed for use in organic agriculture can cause harm to bees and other beneficial insects. There are many considerations when choosing between different pesticide options, including efficacy, specificity, cost, and risks to human health and the environment. This guide provides a brief overview of how to select and apply pesticides for organic farm operations while minimizing pollinator mortality. Many of the practices outlined here for protecting pollinators also can help to protect beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps and flies; predaceous wasps, flies, and beetles; ambush and assassin bugs; lacewings; and others. The presence of these insects can further reduce pest pressure and the need for chemical treatments.

Download PDF: Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects (2MB)

Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment

Author: Xerces Society

Site preparation is one of the most important and often inadequately addressed components for successfully installing pollinator habitat. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions, helpful suggestions, and regional timelines & checklists for preparing both small and large sites using:

  • Solarization
  • Smother cropping
  • Repeated shallow cultivation
  • Sheet mulching
  • Soil inversion
  • Organic herbicide applications
  • Sod removal

Download PDF: Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment (6MB)

RNPP Memorandum of Understanding

Author: Rogue Native Plant Partnership Date: 2019

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to formalize the cooperative effort among the Rogue Native Plant Partnership’s member organizations and meet the following goals:

  1. Facilitate a sustainable and reliable supply of native plant materials to federal and state agencies as well as local non-governmental organizations and the public
  2. Streamline the native plant materials procurement process by centralizing seed collection efforts and grow-out contracting among partner organizations
  3. Increase diversity and genetic appropriateness of locally-available native plant materials
  4. Provide technical and financial support to local native plant producers

Download PDF: RNPP Memorandum of Understanding (14MB)

Managing Milkweed Crop Pests: A Native Seed Industry Guide

Author: Project Milkweed Date: 2017

Project Milkweed is a collaboration with the Xerces Society, the native seed industry, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase commercial availability of milkweed seed. Since 2010 this partnership has worked to address some of the major production challenges faced by the native seed industry and has expanded commercially viable milkweed production to regions where seed was not previously available.

During Project Milkweed surveys of native seed producers, yield loss from insect pests was consistently the most significant challenge reported. Further complicating the situation is the abundance of monarch butterfly caterpillars, crop pollinators, and predatory insects, all of which are typically found in seed production plots and which are vulnerable to insecticides used for pest control.

Download PDF: Managing Milkweed Crop Pests: A Native Seed Industry Guide (3MB)

Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide

Author: The Xerces Society Date: 2016

Native thistles are a largely misunderstood and wrongly maligned group of wildflowers. These diverse plants ll a variety of significant niches along more esteemed wildflowers including the cone flowers, prairie clovers, camas, and compass plant. While so many of those native wildflowers have been embraced by restoration practitioners, ultimately finding a place in our gardens and restored natural areas, appreciation for our native thistles never really caught on. is is too bad. With sublime blue-green foliage, interesting stem and leaf architecture, and pink blossoms, our native thistles are every bit as resplendent as countless other native plants.

Download PDF: Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide (3MB)

Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

Author: The Xerces Society Date: unknown

This bulletin will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns. It begins with a broad overview of pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, then describes cover crop selection and management, how to make cover crops work on your farm, and helpful and proven crop rotations. It will also touch on the limitations of cover crops and pesticide harm reduction, among other topics.

Download PDF: Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects (727KB)

Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed to Expand Pollinator Habitat on Farms

Author: The Xerces Society Date: 2016

Native wildflowers are the backbone of pollinator habitat on the farm. Field borders, filter strips, pastures, hedgerows, and other places where wildflowers (and grasses!) grow also provide us with natural pest control by sustaining predators of crop pests. Additionally, these plants help filter runoff from fields, and protect soil from erosion. Despite the benefits that native wildflowers and grasses provide, the cost of seed can be daunting. Fortunately, if you have native plant areas already established, they can provide you with a readily available source for additional seed.

While harvesting seed from existing wildflowers around the farm may not yield huge volumes, it can provide you with the raw material to gradually create more habitat on the farm. By collecting seed from plants already growing on your land, you are also focusing your efforts on species that are known to perform well on your soils. In this document we outline the basic steps of collecting native plant seed using readily available, non-specialized equipment. While our focus is primarily on wildflowers, many of these same techniques can be useful for collecting native grasses as well as seeds from trees and shrubs.

Download PDF: Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed to Expand Pollinator Habitat on Farms (2MB)

November Native Plant of the Month: Rubber Rabbitbrush

RNPP has started writing a new Native Plant of the Month column for the Rogue Basin Partnership newsletter! You can find the full RBP November newsletter here, and our Native Plant of the Month Column copied below.

Native Plant of the Month: Rubber Rabbitbrush

Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) is a small perennial shrub that grows in a wide variety of harsh habitats from the west coast all the way to Texas and North Dakota. In the Southern Cascades you can still see the last of its flowers in November, but its prime flowering season is August-October. It’s bright and prolific yellow flowers are a very abundant source of food for pollinating insects and birds, and the leaves are an important winter food for browsing mammals.

Rubber Rabbitbrush is an excellent revegetation plant in disturbed areas, as it propagates easily and grows fast in a range of poor soil conditions. It also thrives in dry environments, making it a great choice for xeriscaping (landscapes designed to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation). It is often found growing in desert-like habitats alongside sagebrush – both of which are in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. Its deep growing roots also make it very useful for stabilizing ground prone to erosion or damaged by mining.

Ethnobotanical uses of the plant include making a yellow dye from the flowers, using the rubbery stems in basket making, and making tea and chewing gum. As its name suggests, it can actually be used to make rubber from the plant’s sap. Rubber production potential varies depending on the growing conditions, but it is known to produce more rubbery sap in dryer, hotter conditions.

Taxonomy fact: the “nauseosa” species name relates to the pungent smell the plant gives off when the leaves are rubbed. Some say it’s a pineapple-like aroma, while it’s more foul and rubbery to others.

 

Establishing Pollinator Meadows From Seed

Author: The Xerces Society Date: 2015

To boost healthy populations of both wild resident bees and managed pollinators, the single most effective action you can take is to plant native wild flower habitat. This tangible course of action can be accomplished by anyone at any scale. The process behind establishing a wild flower-rich pollinator planting from seed consists of five basic steps:

  • Site selection
  • Site preparation
  • Plant selection
  • Planting techniques
  • Ongoing management

The steps outlined in this document are applicable to plantings that range in size from a small backyard garden up to areas around an acre.

Download PDF: Establishing Pollinator Meadows From Seed (2MB)

Farming For Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms

Author: The Xerces Society Date: 2015

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide information about native bees and their habitat requirements so that farmers can manage the land around their fields to provide the greatest advantage for these crop pollinators. These guidelines will help growers and conservationists:

  • understand how simple changes to farm practices can bene t native pollinators and farm productivity;
  • protect, enhance, or restore habitat to increase the ability of farmlands to support these bees; and
  • ultimately increase a grower’s reliance upon native bees for crop pollination.

Making small changes to increase the number of native pollinators on a farm does not require a lot of work. Subtle changes in farm practices can involve identifying and protecting nesting sites and forage, choosing cover crop species that provide abundant pollen and nectar, allowing crops to go to flower before plowing them under, or changing how pesticides are applied in order to have the least negative impact on bees.

Download PDF: Farming For Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms (3MB)

Why Grow And Sell Native Milkweed?

Author: Monarch Joint Venture Date: unknown

Milkweed plants (family Asclepiadaceae) are the only food source for monarch butter y caterpillars. However, milkweed has severely declined in North America due to drastic changes in land use or management, like agriculture and development. Milkweed losses and other stressors are associated with declines in migratory monarch butterflies over the past 20 years [1, 6, 7]. To compensate for the loss of milkweed, gardeners across North America are helping monarchs by planting native species of milkweeds, and by keeping milkweeds safe from pesticides.

Download PDF: Why Grow and Sell Native Milkweed? (839KB)

A Guide to the Native Milkweeds of Oregon

Author: The Xerces Society Date: 2012

Five species of milkweed are native to Oregon. This guide includes profiles of the four most common species, all of which are used as a larval host plant by the monarch butterfly.

Asclepias cordifolia (purple milkweed, heartleaf milkweed)
Asclepias cryptoceras ssp. davisii (Davis’ milkweed)
Asclepias fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed)
Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed)

A profile of each of these species includes descriptions of flowers, leaves, and seed pods, accompanied by photos and distribution maps. Supporting these profiles is a simple guide to identifying milkweeds based on their distinctive flowers and fruits.

October Native Plant of the Month: Vinegarweed

RNPP has started writing a new Native Plant of the Month column for the Rogue Basin Partnership newsletter! You can find the full RBP October newsletter here, and our Native Plant of the Month Column copied below.

Native Plant of the Month: Vinegarweed

While walking through open grassy woodlands and prairies during late summer, you may have encountered a strong smell of minty vinegar on the breeze, and maybe even heard the hum of insects that eagerly congregate on the annual herb commonly known as Vinegarweed. The attractive purple flowers are an important late summer pollen source for many insects, with flowers known to bloom into October.

This sun-loving herb is quite shade intolerant, and prefers dry soils below 2,200 ft between Washington and Baja California. It is known to have phytotoxic properties that prevent other plants from growing happily around it. This could make it an excellent plant for competing with invasive herbs. It is also unlikely to be palatable to browsing animals due to its highly fragrant oils. Seeds mature and can be collected in late fall, and sown directly (raked into soil) in fall or early spring.

Vinegarweed is known to be highly medicinal, and has been used by west coast tribes for many healing purposes, including for treatment of colds, throat inflammation, headaches, infected sores and aching teeth.

The species name Lanceolatum means “lance-shaped”, which relates to the shape of Vinegarweed’s leaves. It’s always nice when the scientific name relates to the plant’s appearance! Its lovely little purple flowers are also a great way to identify the plant, but the easiest way to identify Vinegarweed by far is its powerful fragrance – you can’t miss it!

USDA Plant Guide: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_trla4.pdf

Reducing Phytophthora

Authors: Parke, Jennifer (OSU) Date: 2010

Phytophthora species are some of the most problematic plant pathogens in nursery production systems. The quarantine pathogen Phytophthora ramorum has received the most notoriety, but many Phytophthora species pose a challenge for nursery growers.

These pathogens cause trouble because of their persistence and spread in infested soil and water, and their ability to attack a wide variety of plants. Some species cause root rot, whereas others cause foliar blight and shoot dieback. Several species can infect plant parts both above and below the ground.

In collaboration with Niklaus Grünwald and Val Fieland of the USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Carrie Lewis and I (Oregon State University) recently completed a three-year project to determine the most common sources of Phytophthora contamination in nurseries. We applied a systems approach to identify three critical control points in nursery production systems: contaminated soil/gravel beds, contaminated irrigation water, and used pots. Another potential source of Phytophthora spp., not included in our study, is nursery stock brought in from off site.

So what is the take home message for growers? Here are the top 10 practical tips for nursery growers:

Download (PDF): Reducing Phytophthora (2MB)

Restoring huckleberry habitat as a cultural resource

On September 26th a large group of volunteers including Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians members, Forest Service and BLM employees and Rogue Native Plant Partnership volunteers converged on a recently burnt area just outside the town of Prospect in the High Cascades to help replant 1500 mountain huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) plants.

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The area was burned during the 2017 Broken Lookout fire. The well-established plants were grown by the Forest Service’s nursery in Dorena from seed fortuitously collected onsite only two weeks before the Broken Lookout Fire started. This project is a collaboration between the Forest Service, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and the Rogue Native Plant Partnership to restore an important cultural food resource.

It was a brisk but beautiful day up in the mountains, and after a smudging ceremony led by members of the Cow Creek Tribe, everyone got their planting equipment ready and hiked into the burn area to get huckleberries into the ground. In addition, monitoring plots were surveyed as part of a multi-year effort to obtain data that will help develop an understanding of the success of the replanting efforts.  There are still 8000 more plants to go in the ground, with that work being completed by contractors at the time of writing.

Huckleberries continue to be an incredibly important cultural food resource for Native Americans, and so many community members and government agencies coming together to support the replanting efforts is a powerful acknowledgement of understanding the huckleberry’s cultural significance. Thank you to everyone who came out for this great replanting effort!

AUTHOR:

Lilia Letsch
Rogue Native Plant Partnership

 

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Collecting milkweed seedpods for local pollinators and landowners

Ten Rogue Valley community members come together at the Forest Service’s J. Herbert Stone Nursery in Central Point to volunteer for a milkweed seedpod collecting event on September 9th. Even with a decent breeze sending the seed fluff (known more officially as “coma”) flying everywhere, we still managed to collect large amounts of both narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) seed pods. The beds of narrowleaf and showy milkweed have been funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the seeds will be used in special seed mixes being prepared for landowners to enhance pollinator habitat on private lands in the region.

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Milkweed is a fantastic perennial flowering herb that is much loved by many pollinators, including the at-risk Monarch butterfly. Not too long-ago milkweed was an incredibly widespread plant, but has been eradicated in many areas in favor of agricultural crops, and now faces a lot of competition from introduced invasive plants. Luckily it is an easy plant to grow, and efforts are being put into introducing it back into the landscape on a broader scale. It couldn’t happen soon enough for the Monarch!

Many thanks to all of the volunteers who came out to help collect milkweed seeds and contribute to important pollinator habitat restoration!

Interesting taxonomy fact: In 1753, Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus named the genus Asclepias after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.

AUTHOR:

Lilia Letsch
Rogue Native Plant Partnership

 

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Restoring disturbed ground on Mt Ashland with native forbs

June 2nd, 2019

We had a fantastic day on Mt Ashland on June 1st, working with a group of volunteers to plant out 4,500 native plant plugs in an area next to the Mt Ashland lodge that was recently disturbed by heavy machinery. Thanks to the folks at the Mt Ashland Ski Lodge for helping organize volunteers and providing snacks and drinks for everyone!

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The plants were grown by Silver Springs Nursery in the Applegate, from seed that we collected in 2018 on Mt Ashland. The species that were planted out included Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), Coyote Mint (Monardella sheltonii), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Roemer’s Fescue (Festuca roemeri), Squirretail grass (Elymus elymoides) and Sulphur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum). Once grown in, these plants will create a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and native bunch grasses, and great habitat for pollinators and birds!

Post-planting care will involve regular watering for the first year, and ensuring that the area is cordoned off from the public so that the small plants won’t be damaged under foot. We look forward to monitoring the survival rate and growth of these plants, and enjoying the first flush of wildflowers next spring.

Thanks to the amazing volunteers!

AUTHOR:

Lilia Letsch
Rogue Native Plant Partnership

 

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Growing plants for seed production at Long Shadow Fields

April 25, 2019

Long Shadow Fields in Talent is one of a handful of local farms working with the Rogue Native Plant Partnership to develop a new model of native forb seed production. Seed for native forbs – herbs, and grasses – can often be hard to come by in the amounts required for local ecological restoration projects. Growing such plants out for seeds is often cost prohibitive due to the amount of time it can take for plants to develop to the flowering stage, and the amount of labor required to harvest the seed. But through a non-profit / small farm partnership, we are hoping to alleviate the risks and pressures of growing native seed for restoration projects in the Rogue Basin.

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Gary Kliewer at Long Shadow Fields grew a selection of native herbs and forbs from seeds that RNPP supplied from our wild seed harvesting events. A volunteer planting event was organized to help get a lot of the small native herbs in the ground. RNPP will continue to support Gary’s native seed production through volunteer labor, funding through grants, and technical support from a network of other experts in the Pacific Northwest.

The volunteer planting event on April 24th was a great success, we planted hundreds of native plugs and did some great networking and knowledge sharing. Thank you so much to everyone that came and helped! Keep an eye open for future events at Long Shadow Fields and other local farmers we are working with to grow regionally adapted native herbs and grasses for ecological restoration projects happening in our community.

Planting Wyethia into straight rows for ease of mechanical weeding.

AUTHOR:

Lilia Letsch
Rogue Native Plant Partnership

 

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Yellow Starthistle Management Guide

Authors: Ditomaso, J.M., Kyser, G.B. and Pitcairn, M.J. Date: 2006

Details historical information, ecological impacts, biology and ecology, mechanical, cultural, chemical and biological control, and how to develop a management plan for eradication of yellow starthistle.

Download (PDF): Yellow Starthistle Management Guide (8 MB)

Field Guide for Managing Yellow Starthistle in the Southwest

Author: Forest Service Date: 2014

Yellow starthistle is an invasive plant that has been listed as a noxious weed in Arizona and New Mexico. This field guide serves as the U.S. Forest Service’s recommendations for management of yellow starthistle in forests, woodlands, rangelands, and deserts associated with its Southwestern Region. The Southwestern Region covers Arizona and New Mexico, which together have 11 national forests. The Region also includes four national grasslands located in northeastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle.

Download (PDF): Field Guide for Managing Yellow Starthistle in the Southwest (2 MB)

 

USDA Web Soil Survey

Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future. The site is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information.

Visit website: USDA Web Soil Survey

The Woody Plant Seed Manual

Authors: Bonner, F.T. and Karrfalt R.P. (eds.) Date: 2008

The major audience for this book, as for its two predecessors, is those who are involved in the growing and planting of trees and shrubs. Their involvement can be collection and sale of seeds, production of nursery stock (both bare- root and container), or planting itself. Planting for commercial forest production is the traditional mainstay of tree planting, but planting for wildlife food, watershed protection, urban environmental improvement, ornamental enhancement, wetland mitigation, and carbon sequestration are all on the increase. Ecosystem management, now commonly used in the management of many federal and other governmental forest lands, has decreased the use of planting to regenerate the forests and has increased the role of natural regeneration. Those who apply these practices will find this book useful also in the data on flowering and seed production. Although the book is not intended to be a detailed textbook on seed ecology and physiology, there is sufficient scope and depth to the material included to make it useful to anyone who studies seeds.

Download (PDF): The Woody Plant Seed Manual (21MB)

Use of Mycorrhizae for Native Plant Production

Author: St. John, T.

The mycorrhizal symbiosis is well known, but not yet in widespread use in the com- mercial nursery trade. The often-cited mycorrhizal growth response is in not the most signi cant mycorrhizal effect. Instead, the important effects are performance in the eld and improved nutrition and disease resistance in the nursery. These bene ts may be of use in meeting regulatory requirements related to fertilizer runoff and pesticide use. A nursery mycorrhiza program requires modi cation of some current practices and careful choice of appropriate fungi.

Download (PDF): Use of Mycorrhizae for Native Plant Production (120KB)

Techniques to Determine Total Viability in Native Seed

Author: Vivrette, N.

The deep dormancy exhibited by seeds of many native plants can lead to the under estimation of total viability in laboratory tests. Pre-treatment of dormant seeds with gibberellic acid to break dormancy prior to testing for germination or total viability can give a more accurate assessment of seed quality.

Download (PDF): Techniques to Determine Total Viability in Native Seed (93KB)

Seed Germination and Storability Studies of 69 Plant Taxa Native to the Willamette Valley Wet Prairie

Authors: Guerrant Jr., E.O. and Raven, A.

Seeds of 69 taxa native to the Willamette Valley, Oregon were subjected to four germination treatments: two under ambient late winter into summer environmental conditions (untreated (fresh) seed or dry and frozen seed) and two in controlled environment chambers (some seed was cold stratified at 5°C then placed in a 10°C/20°C chamber, other seed was placed in 10°C/20°C chamber then moved to a 5°C/15°C chamber). At least 93% of the taxa tested can tolerate desiccation and frozen storage.

One third of the taxa had a maximum mean germination above 80% in at least one of the four germination treatments, 55% of the taxa had a maximum mean germination rate between 10% and 80%, and only 12 % of the taxa had less than 10% germination. A total of 88% of the taxa had their highest germination in one or both of the two treatments, fresh and cold stratification.

Download (PDF): Seed Germination and Storability Studies of 69 Plant Taxa Native to the Willamette Valley Wet Prairie (267KB)

 

Salvaging Plants for Propagation and Revegetation

Author: Buis, S.

Salvaging native plants is the act of rescuing plants from a construction or disturbance site before they are destroyed. We have not found salvage to be a cost effective method for obtaining most of the plants we sell in our nursery or use in our own projects. However, we do sometimes salvage plants, either to obtain plants that are dif cult to propagate, to increase the genetic diversity of plants in our nursery, because they are unusual species that we don’t have access to otherwise, or to preserve plant genetics on a disturbance site for future replanting. Factors important to consider in salvaging plants include species, size, site access and soil type, whether to use hand or mechanical techniques, time of year, available crew, etc.

Download (PDF): Salvaging Plants for Propagation and Revegetation (275KB)

Ruminations and Ramblings About Native Plant Propagation

Author: Landis, T.D.

Native plant nurseries face different challenges than traditional forest and conservation nurseries. They must educate their customers to the practical limitations of propagating native plants such as the poor availability of seeds or vegetative propagation material. The unusually long amount of time to collect propagules, treat seeds or cuttings, and grow the seedlings emphasizes the need for crop planning well in advance of the outplanting date. The concept of “source-identified, locally-adapted” planting stock must continually be stressed when dealing with native plant customers. New products mean new markets so nurseries should try to produce a range of species and stock types and show them to prospective customers. Native plant nurseries and customers should establish networks to better exchange information. Although there are few incentives to do so, both nurseries and seedling users should strive to share techniques about collecting seed and cuttings, seed treatments, and cultural techniques. Attending professional meetings and presenting propagation and outplanting information is one of the most effective ways to network. Publishing propagation protocols on the Internet is an exciting new way to share technical information.

Download (PDF): Ruminations and Ramblings About Native Plant Propagation (313KB)

Propagating Native Grass Seed and Seedlings

Author: Steinfeld, D.

J. Herbert Stone Nursery produces over 20,000 pounds of native grass seed annually from 36 species endemic to public lands in the western states. Nursery seedbeds are established from wild seed collections. Each collection (referred to as seedlot) is grown separately from other seedlots of same species to prevent cross pollen contamination. Sowing, culturing, harvesting and storage practices for seed and seedling production are discussed. Methods and strategies for achieving successful restoration projects using native grass seed and seedlings are also addressed.

Download (PDF): Propagating Native Grass Seed and Seedlings (202KB)

Genetic Studies in Native Plants

Author: Hipkins, V.

The genetic variation contained within a species is paramount for its survival and future evolution. Species exhibit a large range in their levels and patterns of genetic variation. This range in population structure is basic to the use and conservation of genetic diversity in plants. In order to understand, conserve, and manage plant populations, it is necessary to measure the levels of genetic variation within a species. We have at our disposal a variety of estimation tools. These tools provide information about plant identity, taxonomy, hybridization, parentage and mating systems, and levels and structure of genetic diversity. Genetic information can be used to guide restoration and revegetation projects, conservation concerns, and seed transfer movement. Our role at NFGEL is to conduct laboratory genetic tests and provide information to land managers so that they may better utilize and manage plant species.

Download (PDF): Genetic Studies in Native Plants (209KB)

Extraction and Germination of Pacific Madrone Seed

Authors: Harrington C.A., Lodding, C.C., and Kraft J.M. Date: 1999

Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) seeds can be extracted and cleaned in a procedure which utilizes a mortar and pestle, a blender with a rubber blade, and several sieves. The method involves several steps but is not difficult and can result in a large amount of seed in a short period of time. Following extraction, the seeds can be dried and stored at low moisture content (6%) in sealed containers at 3-5°C or given a cold strati cation treatment and then sown. Cold stratification periods of 60 days or longer increased the initial rate of germination compared to seeds stratified for 40 days but resulted in seed losses due to premature germination during stratification. For lots from the Puget Sound Lowlands, cold stratification for 40 days is adequate; seeds in stratification longer than 40 days should be monitored closely for premature germination.

Download (PDF): Extraction and Germination of Pacific Madrone Seed (150KB)

Native Plant Network Propagation Protocols

Author: Native Plant Network (various authors)

The Native Plant Network is devoted to the sharing of information on how to propagate native plants of North America (US, Canada, Mexico and the Pacific Islands). Search the database for extensive details on how to propagate different plants, or scroll through alphabetically.

Visit (website): Native Plant Network Propagation Protocols

Guide to Placement of Wood, Boulders and Gravel for Habitat Restoration

Author: ODF/ODFW Date: 2010

This guide has been developed to facilitate the placement of large wood, boulders and gravel in a manner consistent with these principles and regulations in Oregon. These techniques, when done independently or in conjunction with other restoration activities, increase the channel complexity and diversity of habitat necessary to help restore and support a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

Download (Word): Guide to Placement of Wood, Boulders and Gravel for Habitat Restoration (4MB)

Restoring Rare Native Habitats in the Willamette Valley

Author: Campbell, B. Date: 2004

This guide is organized by the four priority habitat types: oak woodlands; wetlands; bottomland hardwood and riparian forests; and grasslands and prairies. A brief discussion of each habitat is followed by restoration considerations and techniques. References or sources of information are denoted by superscript numbers that refer to entries in the bibliography. Restorationists wishing to obtain additional information or delve more deeply into a topic may want to review these references.

Download (PDF): Restoring Rare Native Habitats in the Willamette Valley (2MB)

Restoring Oak Habitats in Southern Oregon & Northern California

Authors: Klamath Bird Observatory & Lomakatsi Restoration Project Date: 2014

This landowner guide describes how to apply conservation practices for Oregon white oak and California black oak habitats on private lands in southern Oregon and northern California. The document first discusses the importance and history of oak habitats and then provides detailed conservation guidelines for oak habitat restoration. Also, the guide includes supplemental resources for the restoration- minded private landowner, including a list of organizations that will assist with private lands restoration as well as step-by-step instructions for monitoring birds on your land to track the return of wildlife following oak restoration activities.

Download (PDF): Restoring Oak Habitats in Southern Oregon & Northern California (4MB)

A Landowner’s Guide for Restoring and Managing Oregon White Oak Habitats

Authors: Vesely, D. and Tucker, G. Date: 2004

The primary purpose of this Guide is to encourage private landowners to conserve, and when appropriate, actively manage Oregon white oaks that already exist on their property, and consider planting additional oaks. In the early chapters of the Guide, we describe some of the uses and benefits of this remarkable tree in hopes of motivating landowners to take action. An introduction to the ecology of the Oregon white oak is included so the reader can better understand how management practices are founded on aspects of the tree’s biology. Later chapters are designed to help landowners develop land management goals and understand the process of natural resource planning.

Download (PDF): A Landowner’s Guide for Restoring and Managing Oregon White Oak Habitats (7MB)