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Blooms in the Basin

As we seemingly speed through spring, we've gotten to enjoy the artwork of Mother Nature: the seasons her paintbrush; the ground her canvas. Having recently moved to Southern Oregon, I've had the opportunity to settle in with the changing of seasons. As the world around me emerges from hibernation, I too, feel I am coming out of a resting state into new surroundings blooming around me.


I've had the joy of botanizing and learning about the natural communities in this area. Coming from the East Coast, the plant world here feels in some ways different, but in others, very similar. Western riparian species like cottonwood, willow, and alder remind me of their eastern kin that I've grown so familiar with. I've tried to take advantage of learning the local wildflowers as they emerge, but it seems my curiosity can't quite keep up with the constant influx of blooms (I have a camera roll full of attempts to prove it). And I have to say, I much prefer the "light" pollen season here versus dodging pollen tornadoes in North Carolina.

Cirrus clouds accompany blue skies at the Elk Creek RM 5.6 restoration site.

While we at the Council aim to promote native habitats, there's no mistaking the presence of introduced species within our environment. Non-native species don't all act the same; some exist without much intrusion, while others can dominate, oftentimes resulting in environmental, economic, and/or social harm. In our work at RRWC, we target high risk species that tend to overwhelm our natural communities. A species that most of us are familiar with is non-native blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), which grows throughout the valley in dense, tall stands. Throughout some of our project sites, nearly impenetrable walls of blackberry have made it especially difficult to evaluate the status of in-stream and riparian habitat conditions. By employing our "Release & Recruit" method, we can target destructive weeds while preserving the existing native plant community. Once competition for resources has been reduced, our native communities are able to naturally recruit diverse species back in locations where they will survive best.

We work with trusted contractors who specifically target unwanted species in their treatment efforts, ensuring that native species are protected during riparian rehabilitation.

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten to observe the products of our "Release & Recruit" approach in action throughout restoration sites in the Little Butte Creek and Elk Creek watersheds. Patches of native wildflowers have sprung up from the ground amongst the backdrop of dead blackberry canes. Some blooms I've been treated to include Pacific sanicle (Sanicula crassicaulis), common camas (Camassia quamash), Tolmie's star tulip (Calochortus tolmiei), riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis), giant trillium (Trillium albidum), and many other native wildflowers.


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