2013 Field Work

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2013 Field Work

December 31, 2013

Jeff Clarke's 2013 Field Work Field Note chronicles restoration projects conducted by the field crew.

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2013 Field Work Field Note By Jeff Clarke

The field crew worked from March 15th through October 31st. During this time they conducted ranch restoration projects and assisted MPG’s scientists with their research projects. The following slides briefly explain the projects listed in this table.

The field crew and groups of volunteers continued to work their way east and up to clear old fence. We piled wooden fence posts for small mammal habitat. Metal fence posts and wire will serve in new projects or go to the recycling plant.

Stabilized boundary fences kept out hydrophobic cows.

Orange paint gave hunters notice.

A 500-yard fence now runs along the property boundary at the bottom of Davis Creek. Cattle wallowed in the pristine creek pre-fence; post-fence, they did not.

Ben Garrett leads the Mountain Pine Beetle prevention/ research project. The field crew helped place verbanone packets on many mature ponderosa pine trees to control infestations.

Teagan identified ungulate use study areas. We went to each plot and gathered three biomass samples, counted ungulate droppings and took robel measurements. She will analyze the data and correlate it with ungulate diet and site frequency.

As native shrub, forb, and grass seeds matured, the crew collected, cleaned, and stored them with a site description.

! As native shrub, forb, and grass seeds matured, the crew collected, cleaned, and stored them with a site description. ! On the warm sunny days of August we collected knapweed root weevils from thick and heavily infested patches of knapweed. Our collectors picked 39 weevils per hour on average. We dispersed 5000 weevils on the Clubhouse Floodplain to demolish the knapweed invasion.

In 2011 Mike Henning removed and stacked cottonwood trees on the fringes of the old shooting range to make way for a new wetland. This year we fixed them to the unstable south slopes in Tongue Creek and planted them with wheat.

We experimented with jute In lower Tongue Creek and near the Orchard House. Jute’s burlap-like fabric retains moisture to improve seed germination and reduce erosion. It works better with supplemental water in our climate.

Minimal tree recruitment on the North Floodplain could be due to browsers or the lack of good conditions for seed establishment in recent years. We put up ungulate exclosures to to isolate the two potential causes. Mature ponderosa pine and cottonwood trees grow within the exclosures. In the coming years, we will see what the floodplain would look like without browsers.

We also added exclosures around of suppressed aspen suckers. Past experience teaches us that aspens respond to exclosures the first year. We built three large metal exclosures on the north end of the North Floodplain and five buck and rail exclosures and two additional mesh exclosures on the north end of the Clubhouse Floodplain.

Beavers moved into the new pond and started to chew down aspen and cottonwood trees. We erected a three-foot fence along the forest’s edge to block them out.

Several buck and rail fences were built, fixed and removed around the ranch. If a buck and rail doesn’t serve its purpose, we rebuild it or move it.

We removed individual plastic exclosures from dead trees and expanded exclosures around thriving trees.

Ylva started a new invasive-native plant competition study this year. We planted it in the spring and kept it weed free all year. We also kept another similar study (by the Orchard House barn) watered and weed free.

To maintain weed-free buffers around the outside of all study plots, we applied herbicide and installed weed fabric.

Molly, a Univ. of Wyoming grad student, came to the ranch this summer to implement a Poa secunda study. We helped her plant and keep her plots weed free. We also helped gather data.

Between restoration and research projects, we painted the house, built flowerbeds, fixed up the barn, set up the club house fence several times, and cleaned and organized equipment.

We sprayed leafy spurge on still, dry, mornings. First, we focused on survivors in big patches sprayed in previous years, then we moved on to more isolated patches. We knock it back more each year.

We experimented with different doses of glyphospate on reed canary grass. Next year, we will monitor the effectiveness of the aquatic friendly herbicide.

Early in the season we sprayed mustard and large mats of cheatgrass and German madwart.

We weed whacked and spot sprayed thistle three times. We replaced old small yellow tree tubes with larger grey exclosures. We erected new metal and buck and rail exclosures around aspen groves.

Some members of the crew assisted Marirose with her pollinator study. They placed collection trays and captured pollinators with nets in plots.

Bulrush grows in the original portion of the Clubhouse slough. The crew transplanted root wads to the constructed wetland. We also transplanted rushes, sedges, and lily pads from a wetland across the river.

With excavator, Mike Henning created seven new ponds where spring waters drain; the crew also dug two by hand. We protected some of the ponds with exclosures to keep elk from wallowing in them. We also added woody debris to provide shade for amphibians and spread seed on adjacent disturbed soils.

Burns across all the areas scheduled for crested wheat grass conversion removed standing crested wheatgrass biomass to allowed herbicide to reach crested seedlings that sprouted from the seed bank.

We burned tumble weeds that congregated in low areas and along fences.

! The crew hand-pulled and bagged every hounds tongue plant we saw in the floodplains. We also applied herbicide to rosettes. Volunteer crews pulled hounds tongue elsewhere.

We sprayed the weeds on every disturbed roadside. In the fall, we spread a wheat/sainfoin/grass seed mix on the bare soils and then spread native hay over the top to provide additional seed and moisture; the hay will also cut down on erosion.

Bare, unstable, slopes in the lower draws received a mix of native seeds and wheat. We raked seeds down half an inch.

Along the hedge rows, we whacked weeds that take nutrients and water from planted trees, shrubs or native grasses/forbs. In =ields and draws covered with invasives, we whacked before seed was set. We also trimmed along roadsides, the orchard, and the houses.

In the spring we thinned dense rows of basin wildrye in the grass plantation to allow the plants that remain to grow larger. We transplanted the thinned grasses to the entrance and onto the old truck farm benches along woodchuck creek. We hope to establish thick swards of basin wildrye to provide nesting cover for birds and security cover for mammals.

The field crew planted trees grown by the University Greenhouse and by Terry Divoki. These plantings include curl-leaf mountain mahogany in lower Sheep Camp and on the Whaley Mine, mountain mahogany and ponderosa pine around the Orchard House, hawthorns near the corral, and a mix of shrubs along the trail to the interpretive garden.

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