Summer is monitoring season at the Land Trust. It's a time when we visit our protected lands for an annual check-up.
Monitoring entails visiting the property at regular intervals and systematically taking photos at established locations (photo points). This helps us ensure that the conservation values of the property are upheld.
The Land Trust monitors private properties where we hold a land protection agreement (conservation easement) once a year. This annual visit is part of the individualized agreement we make with each landowner. It helps us assess the ecological health of the property, and also provides time to visit with landowners. Regular, documented monitoring is also part of our pledge to be an accredited land trust.
The Land Trust monitors properties that we own—Land Trust Preserves—every other year. Though we actively manage these properties and visit them all year long, monitoring helps us assess the ecological health of the properties. Photo points on our Preserves are often established near populations of sensitive plants or where major restoration projects have occurred or are anticipated. Monitoring can help us watch these changes over time. At larger Preserves, like the Metolius and Whychus Canyon, monitoring also ensures that we visit all corners of the property checking on boundaries and access points.
What we see
Sometimes monitoring reports show very little change over time. We think of this consistency as a good thing--nature continues her flow uninterrupted. At other times, we see dramatic changes, like Camp Polk Meadow after the creek restoration. This year we were particularly surprised to see the vegetation along Camp Polk's restored Whychus Creek channel explode!
In the series of photos above, you can watch as this portion of the lower meadow transforms from a dry dusty place with no creek (2009) to a place with head high willows, alders, and dogwoods! The plants, as our ecologists are fond of saying, sleep, creep and then leap. The first few years plants focus on root growth and establishment (sleep), then they slowly put on new growth (creep), and finally they explode and grow rapidly (leap). This year, 2016, has certainly been a leap year!
If you can't see the slideshow, click here.