07-03-15 Field Note

Block title

07-03-15 Field Note

July 3, 2015

Jeff Clarke's field note shows reed canary grass restoration, hounds tongue pulling, and irrigation considerations in a deepening drought.

PDF icon Download (3.53 MB)

Reed canary grass, drought, hounds tongue, irrigation

Reed canary grass dominates some of the wet, rich, soils of the Northern Floodplain; Once it’s established, few natives can compete. The field crew will remove one invasion at a time. The photographed R.C.G. patch was seven feet tall and more than one acre large. We had to weed whack it before we weed matted it.

After matting it, we will let the dense grass decompose under the black mat until next spring. In the fall we will build a buck and rail fence around the restoration area. Next spring we will plug thousands of willow, cottonwood, dogwood and aspen trees into the mat. The new forest will provide much better habitat than the old reed canary grass monoculture!

The crew is in the process of removing hounds tongue from all the roadsides. We try to remove the plants before their seeds ripen and become Velcro-like. We see fewer plants in areas that we’ve treated in past years.

We remove roadside mullein too…

Over the years, we found that buck and rail fences with three rails will keep out elk and horses, not deer. Fences with four rails keep out most ungulates. In an effort to keep deer away from the coral spring and its plants, we added a fourth rail (indicated by red arrow).

A few years ago we built a few ponds near the coral. We spread aquatic seed throughout and added several aspen to its edges. The wetland has sedges, cattails, monkey flower and more! Without a buck and rail fence, the horses would have created this wallow atop our restoration efforts.

This spring we spread wild rice seed in an old, wet, reed canary grass site. The grass grew however, water levels may recede and kill the grass.

We surrounded the wildlife security zones with new signs. Most of the new posts serve as bird perches and equestrian back scratchers too.

An early drought is upon us.

The water in the pump slough runs low from the irrigation.

For now, irrigations continues to keep the alfalfa green…and the deer rejoice.

 A killdeer chick plucks insects from the receding waterline.

Virgin’s bower clematis receive irrigation from spring water along the orchard fence. As a result, they continue to flourish!

Last year we transplanted 30 small aspen suckers for a pilot study. This year, those same small trees are six feet tall!

A thicket of ripening nightshade canvasses a cottontail hollow in Tongue Creek.

Beebalm grows on the northern floodplain in small patches.

Needle and thread grass senesces.