After this cool, wet spring, many of you have probably noticed the robust stands of cheatgrass and mustard weeds sprouting up everywhere. This is certainly true at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve! Cheatgrass and mustard are common weeds found all over Central Oregon and are often difficult to control. These weeds have been present at Camp Polk for many years and tend to thrive in disturbed sites.
Restoration of Whychus Creek at Camp Polk began in earnest in 2009 when large machinery disturbed over 30,000 cubic yards of soil. The Land Trust put over 100,000 native plants in the ground along the newly dug channel. With irrigation in place to help the new plants grow, weeds are also receiving their share of hydration and as a result, are thriving. This was an expected problem and to combat this, The Land Trust developed a comprehensive weed management plan and has been implementing this plan since March. The plan covers control of high priority weeds such as knapweed, reed canarygrass, and Canada thistle, as well as weeds such as mullein, nightshade, bull thistle and teasel.
While the project area might appear to be a weedy mess to the untrained eye, we are actually accomplishing a lot on the weed front and we have reason to be optimistic. Sherry Berrin, the Land Trust’s Land Steward, met recently with Dan Sherwin, Deschutes Co. Vegetation Manager, and Rich Affeldt, OSU Extension Crop Specialist at the Camp Polk Meadow restoration site. They looked at the overall site but focused on the cheatgrass and mustard fields that are dense and thriving within the newly planted areas along the channel. Both professionals stressed the importance of being patient with these types of projects and understanding that we are dealing with a weed seedbank that won’t be exhausted for some time to come.
Both men felt that even if the Land Trust did nothing at all to reduce the cheatgrass and mustard populations, over time (at least 10 years), we will see a transition from the annual weeds to the perennial native plant community we are trying to achieve. In the meantime, the Land Trust will continue to implement an adaptive management approach to battle high priority weed species in hopes of reducing population sizes or completely eradicating them from the site. If you are interested in learning more about the weeds we are battling and our efforts to eradicate them, please contact Sherry Berrin at 541] 330.0017.