Harney County Restoration Collaborative partners met at a site on the Marshall Divine project to take part in interactive stations about monitoring that is taking place on the southern Malheur. Each year a monitoring crew is hired to gather data during the summer months. The data is used to help inform and provide a measurement on how the restoration treatments conducted in the forest are achieving the desired results.
The crew this year, lead by Oregon State University graduate student Kat Morici, set up 8 stations with activities to help partners better understand monitoring data collection. Some of the topics discussed included learning how fuel loading data is collected and determined, how to quantify fine fuel loads on trees, and identifying what perennial grasses are on the forest. It was a great experience and the partners learned a lot. Thanks to the monitoring crew for putting this on!
In July, Harney County Restoration Collaborative met out in the field to look at some of the projects being proposed by the Forest Service on the Flat Project. Travis Swaim, USFS silverculturist and project lead, presented four projects to the group some of which were controversial for various reasons. In the picture (left) the group was discussing a proposal to remove a stand of lodgepole pine that had not historically existed in the area. Trees in the stand were dying because of beetle infestation and there was debate in the group over whether the stand should be removed or left to die and fall to the same effect.
The group also discussed the possibility of planting and fencing riparian hardwoods following conifer removal, the temporary loss of stream shading, and leaving conifers for bank stabilization. One of the strengths of Harney County Restoration Collaborative is the groups ability to listen to each other and consider each others viewpoints. Great conversations are generated as a result. The group reached a consensus and decided to move forward with this treatment. The group will meet in the field again next month. The location and purpose of the tour are still being determined.
Harney County Restoration Collaborative partners toured areas on the Dairy Project that had been treated with mechanical thinning and prescribed fire. The group discussed the complex set of decisions required to manage on a landscape scale and the challenge of getting information out to the public that adequately conveys the intricacy of restoration decision-making. Group members also talked about the need for more latitude in being able to use prescribed fire. Currently, using prescribed fire is hindered by strict air quality regulations set by the Department of Environmental Quality. Harney County Restoration Collaborative members recognize that prescribed fire doesn't always go exactly as planned, and believe it is an important part of restoration.
One interesting part of the tour looked at a mature aspen stand that was heavily damaged in a prescribed fire due to slash left on the ground. The slash was left to provide the aspen protection from herbivores. The aspen stand was already resprouting, and group members felt that the aspen stand would continue to respond favorably by suckering and resprouting heavily in the area. There was a general consensus that the stand might be able to withstand some level of herbivory after being reinvigorated by the fire.
That's Not All...
You can learn even more about what the Harney County Restoration Collaborative has been doing by looking through our Newsletter Archive.