Launching the Grassland Restoration Research Project

Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument teamed up with KS Wild and the Bureau of Land Management for the 5th Annual Weed Pull at the Mariposa Lily Botanical Area in the Monument on June 17. This area is a very important section of the Monument because it provides crucial habitat for the rare Green’s Mariposa Lily (Calochortus greenei).

Much of this area has a long history of heavy grazing which has drastically changed the plant communities from native bunchgrasses and wildflowers to mostly non-native grasses and flowering plants, such as yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) and medusahead grass (Taeniatherum caput-medusae).

This year’s weed pull was a little bit different because it also served as the kickoff for the Grassland Restoration Research Project in the botanical area. Participants worked alongside Charles Schelz, the Monument ecologist, to create two 5m x 20m plots in the botanical area. In each of the two plots, four 5m x 5m subplots were created to test out different methods of removing non-native plant species and encouraging native plants to grow in their absence.

One of the four subplots served as the control, so no treatment was done in those subplots. In the second subplot, no weeding was done at all, but the area was seeded with a mix of native plant species. In the third subplot, light weeding was done in patches and the area was seeded with the same seed mix, and in the fourth and final subplot, volunteers manually pulled out all of the non-native species and the area was seeded.

One year from now, we will start a monitoring project that will give us a better idea of what the best method is to remove non-native plant species in this area. Will it be seeding only? Light weed pulling and seeding? Or pulling everything and seeding with native species? Keep your eye on our future newsletters for opportunities to take part in this monitoring effort!

Ellie Thompson, Program Coordinator