04-18-13 Field Note

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04-18-13 Field Note

April 20, 2013

Jeff Clarke's Field Note details exclosure removal, floodplain sapling protection, and the stamen of the shooting star.

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Jeff Clarke Field Note 04-18-13

If you crawl around the Northern Floodplain, you MAY find a Ponderosa Pine seedling, but you won’t find many. Why is the understory recruitment so low in our floodplain? Is it a result of the regular prescribed burns, or are the ungulates to blame?

To answer these questions, the field crew erected two large (150’x50’) metal exclosures in randomly selected locations on the Northern Floodplain. Within each exclosure, mature cottonwood and ponderosa trees grow. After a few years, these exclosures should show us what an ungulate free floodplain would look like. If the change is significant, we may want to add more protection in the floodplain.

In the Clubhouse Floodplain, we erected 2 new 75’x75’ exclosures around a suckering aspen stand. This small stand of suckers has remained stagnant for the last three years, and we know ungulate browse is to blame. The new exclosures will encourage the protected trees to soar skyward.

The crew continues to remove lines of barbed wire fence. This week we took down the fence that runs along the north ridge near Sheep Camp stand. Well worn game trails follow both sides of the fence. The fencefree ridge will allow critters to pass without restriction.

In 2010, we placed yellow tube exclosures around native trees in an attempt to protect them from ungulate browse. Three years later, my surveys show that unprotected trees adjacent to the exclosures are growing just as well, if not better, than their protected neighbors. In many other instances, the exclosures just fell over, making for an unsightly mess. We’ve decided to remove all the yellow tube exclosures from the ranch. This week we cleaned up the areas in red.

Over the past few weeks, the field crew has been busy setting cottonwood logs into the southern slopes of Tongue Creek. Behind each set of logs, we create a flat micro site and plant it with a sunflower/wheat/native seed mix. We hope the strategically placed bars and seed will reduce further erosion on the unstable slopes.

Buffleheads dive for greenery in the Clubhouse Pond and the rising back water sloughs. We also observed green-winged teals, pintails, wood ducks, mergansers, Canada geese and mallards in the clubhouse pond.

Beaver found the Clubhouse Pond! There is a well worn trail that links the river to the pond. On the east side of the pond, more and more aspens disappear every day.

Crews repaired the fence line on the northern boundary of the ranch. We hope that the mended fence keeps the neighboring cattle at bay. So far so good!

Dodecatheon typically goes by the common name: shooting star. Today I found out that some folks call it mosquito bill. Though this new name is less majestic, I think it describes the flower’s stamen quite well.

Recent Field Work • Erosion bars in Tongue Creek • Pile slash in logging areas • Remove barbed wire fence • Erect exclosures • Weed Poa study • Remove yellow exclosures • Plant Ponderosa Pines • Pick up bailing twine • Spread seed • Clean Partridge Alley • Assemble Sprayers • Remove nurse plant exclosure

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