Time to get moving

Wow, so much to catch up on. Field season is in full swing. Running between monitoring, meetings, and trainings this internship is flying by.

I’ve been fortunate to work with the Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE) quite a bit this past month. They are a local nonprofit whose mission is to “conserve native species and habitats through restoration, research, and education.”   The Upper Willamette Resoure Area botanist has agreements with IAE to perform some of the restoration and monitoring work throughout our resource area. Some species of focus have been Bureau sensitive species Lathyrus holochlorus, Sisyrinchium hitchcockii, Frasera umpquensis, Horkelia congesta ssp congesta, as well as the federally listed threatened species Lupinus sulphureus ssp. Kincaidii.

Frasera umpquensis at Upper Elk Meadow ACEC


Me enjoying a fen at Upper Elk Meadows. Elevation ~ 4,000 feet

Some restoration activities IAE has so far implemented to benefit these species are mechanical removal of trees and shrubs to expand meadows and prevent encroachment, burning of invasive grasses to limit their cover and spread, removal of invasive species such as Scotch broom, false brome, and blackberry, and post activity seeding with native seed (including seed collected through Seeds of Success!!). At one site, restoration activities included tree removal or girdling between meadows to make corridors for the federally listed Fender’s blue butterfly who uses the Lupinus sulphureus ssp. Kincaidii (Kincaid’s lupine) as a host plant.

Kincaid’s lupine at Oak Basin ACEC

Monitoring of these projects often includes a complete census of the population or a variety of quantitative sampling, such as density or cover. Although monitoring can be disheartening if plant populations are declining, we have seen some remarkable progress resulting from the restoration activities at one of the Sisyrinchium hitchcockii where the population has increased and now covers an area approximately 4 times larger than before restoration took place.

Sisyrinchium hitchcockii

Lost Creek meadow, Sisyrinchium hitchcockii site

Andy Neill, of Institute of Applied Ecology, and me doing monitoring of the Sisyrinchium population

In addition to field monitoring, the past month has been packed full of training and workshops. Beginning with Chicago Botanic Garden’s Conservation and Land Management Internship Training Workshop in June and continuing in Southern Oregon at the Siskiyou Field Institutes Graminoid Identification Course, I’m beginning to feel more and more confident working in the realm of Botany and understanding the important role that federal land management agencies and their partners play in the conservation of plant communities.

Sisksiyou Field Institute: Our wonderful teacher, Linda Vorobik, leading the class through a Darlingtonia californica fen near Selma, Oregon

Siskiyou Field Insitute’s front porch. A beautiful spot to relax after a long day of keying grasses, sedges, and rushes.

One major event happening in my internship this week is the retirement of my mentor, Cheshire Mayrsohn. Congrats Cheshire!   I want to say thank you for your time, patience, imparting of your expertise, and ceaseless guidance. The information and experiences you have shared with me are invaluable and I will carry them forward with me throughout my career.

Cheshire Mayrsohn, Upper Willamette Resource Area Botanist, Northwest Oregon District

The beginning

Hello Upper Willamette Resource Area!

After several seasons of working around the Pacific Northwest, this year my duty station will be in Eugene/Springfield Oregon where I’ve made my home for the past 6 years.  I can’t wait! The majority of time I’ve lived in Eugene I haven’t had a car (don’t worry, the city is great for bicycles) so my exploration of the area outside of city limits has been guided by the wills of friends with vehicles. For the next 5 months, however, I am going to spend hundreds of hours exploring and getting to know the nooks, crannies, and plants in what I consider my own backyard!

Working for and alongside people who have led my field trips, mentored school projects, and who I have generally thought of as natural resource heroes, I think this field season is going to be a great one.

My mentor, Cheshire Mayrsohn, (Botanist for the Upper Willamette Resource Area, Northwest Oregon District) showing me the ropes of filling out GeoBOB survey forms.

My first week has brought about the usual routine of paperwork, trainings, technical difficulties, and a whirlwind tour all the folks in the office. I even got to drive part of an OHV course as part of my driver’s training test. You’ve got to love the opportunity to drive over logs, rocks, and slosh through giant mud pits!

One of the rocky mud pits I got to drive through.

Having survived the first couple of days, I got geared up and headed out the door to start the first of my rare plant monitoring. My target species: Eucephalus vialis, also known as wayside aster.

Eucephalus vialis

Belonging to the Aster family, this sensitive species is somewhat tricky to spot. Varying in height depending on habitat conditions and currently in a vegetative state, it does a great job of blending in with other vegetation. It’s also prone to growing in and among poison oak, which makes for an even bigger challenge. Hooray for Tecnu (and Dawn dish soap my mentor has recently divulged)!!

Eucephalus vialis has some look alikes, especially when the plant doesn’t grow very tall. Luckily Cheshire has lots of tricks for plant identification. For this aster, one of the best ways to identify it from others is its anastamosing veins, where the veins rejoin after branching and forming an intertwining network (which can be seen in the picture below).

It’s only a been a few days and my brain is already swirling with names of new plants or familiar plants that I’ve never properly identified, but I can’t wait to learn more! It feels great to be starting a new field season. I have a feeling this internship is going to be full of adventures, an abundance of new tasks and skills, and an experience I’ll never forget.

Emily, Bureau of Land Management, Upper Willamette Resource Area