Marion County Parks Department is entering its third year of an upland prairie restoration project at Bonesteele Park. This Waldo Hills upland site consists of approximately 10 acres of mature Oregon Oak/ Douglas Fir forest and 20 acres of open grassland which has been used for commercial crop production for many years.
Our intent is to restore the land to its pre-European oak savannah habitat by removing non-native vegetation and planting locally collected seed of a variety of native grasses and forbs.
This reduction of weeds and collection of native seed from other remnant prairie sites has been our main focus in 2000 and 2001. Now we are moving into a period of active increase of our native seed inventory to expand the restoration area over the next few years to include the entire 20 acres of grassland.
In the process, our goals are:
1) To provide improved wildlife habitat and help maintain mid-Willamette Valley biodiversity by reintroducing local genotypes of native plants.
2) To provide research, educational and recreational opportunities for our community.
3) To provide a relocation site for Marion County prairie plants salvaged from logging operations or other development activities.
4) To provide a reliable and affordable source of locally native seed for other restoration, revegetation and mitigation projects being conducted by Marion County and other agencies and individuals.
In the summer of 2001 we collected 52 pounds of native seed, including 67 upland prairie species and another 18 wet prairie species. Our collection sites were in or near Marion County, mostly within a 20 mile radius of Bonesteele Park, and included remnant upland prairie sites, roadside native plant sites, and our first harvest of native grass rowcrops being grown in a nursery setting for faster seed inventory increase.
Half of the seed we collected this year has been planted at Bonesteele Park. The other half has been put into nursery growout beds and rowcrop production in order to more rapidly increase our seed supply and to ease collection pressure on native plant populations in the wild by providing a long term commercial seed source. This Native Seed Inventory will provide seed for sale to help finance our restoration efforts. In fall 2001 we sold our first seed (Clarkia amoena) harvested at Bonesteele Park, and we look forward to offering over 60 species for sale in the next few years as production comes online.
We have been working with students from local schools, including Willamette University and Chemeketa Community College, as well as Native Plant Society members and Wildlife Steward volunteers and the Friends of Bonesteele. We hope to expand our coordination with other volunteer groups over the next couple of years as we complete the restoration process at Bonesteele Park.
Photos in this display include remnant upland prairie sites, examples of species collected and planted this fall, and progressive stages of nursery plant growout operations.