Photo: Joan Amero.

Native Plant Restoration Projects Progress

Sep 05, 2023 by Sarah Mowry
Ongoing restoration projects at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and Indian Ford Meadow Preserve are making strides to improve native plant communities.

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The Land Trust has been working for several years to restore the native plant communities at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and Indian Ford Meadow Preserve. While our methods have been different depending on the location (remember all that plastic at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve?), our goal remains the same—to improve habitat for native plants and animals. How are these restoration projects progressing?

This year marks the fifth year of native plant restoration in the Hindman Springs portion of Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. We are focusing on the hillside that slopes down to the meadow from Hindman Springs. Topography here is much more challenging, and since we can’t use soil solarization, we have been using some herbicides and hand pulling to control weeds, followed by planting of native grasses. This approach is far less labor and resource intensive, but it also means we have to contend with more weeds and less water. Our hope is that after treating and pulling the weeds, we will have the start of an established native plant community that can grow for a few years without competition from weeds.

The previous four phases of the Hindman Springs restoration continue to evolve and establish. The oldest phase is now reestablished with a diverse native grass and wildflower community, but it is also experiencing reinvasion of some cheatgrass and other weeds. Some weeds are certainly inevitable, but as long as the native plant population continues to survive, we can be assured that this area is providing a resource-rich habitat for wildlife.

At Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, our four acre restoration project has been surprisingly successful! Four years of weed control and two years of planting grasses and spreading native seed has transformed the area from 100% invasive weeds into a meadow with a diverse bunchgrass community. Though there are still weeds to address, particularly Russian thistle, this portion of the meadow is vastly improved. We’ll be planting more grasses this fall, treating weeds, hoping for a wet spring, and then watching this area continue to improve.

Want to help native plants in Central Oregon thrive? Volunteer with us this fall for one of our planting parties!

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