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Wetland Project 2011


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Wetland Project 2011


 

 

In May of 2011, the USFWS - Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program prepared the "Wetlands Reserve Plan of Operations" for nearly 100-acres to be located in the future perpetual conservation easement. Following are excerpts from this document.

Historic Conditions:
"Prior to Euro-American settlement, the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) easement area was likely a mosaic of native wet prairie and upland prairie -- Oregon white oak savannah, with inclusions of emergent marsh scattered throughout.  Drainage ways would likely have been comprised of wet prairie, pockets of riparian forest, meandering slough/creek bottoms and beaver ponds." 

Current Conditions:

"Current riparian vegetation is limited to narrow field edge strips (hedgerows) comprised predominantly of Oregon ash and black hawthorn.

"Native vegetation has been cleared for decades on this site...creek bottoms have been ditched and/or incorporated in the Santiam Water Control District delivery system. There appears to be little to no evidence of drain tiling which offers the promise of cost-effective high quality hydrologic restoration potential."

Habitat Goals:

"The restoration of large blocks of native prairie and savannah habitat presents an opportunity to achieve significant conservation gains for numerous taxa in decline.  This may include rare plants, grassland birds and pollinators.  

"A partial list of plants that may benefit includes:  Meadow checker-mallow, Oregon sunshine, Self heal, Graceful cinquefoil, Cat's Ear lily, Common camas, Nelson's checker-mallow (threatened), Narrow-leaved mule's ears, Oregon geranium, Oregon saxifrage and Slim-leaf onion.  

"Avian species of conservation concern may include the Western meadowlark, Streaked-horned lark, Grasshopper sparrow, Oregon vesper sparrow, Northern harrier and Short-eared owl.  Suitable habitat may be restored that could present options for introduction of Willamette Valley daisy (endangered) and Bradshaw's desert parsley (endangered).

"These conservation efforts will directly support the implementation of the Oregon Conservation Strategy, Recovery Plan for Prairie Species of Northwest Oregon and Southwestern Washington, and Partner's in Flight Strategy for Landbirds of the Lowlands of Western Oregon and Washington."

Restoration Plan:  

Habitat types being restored are wet prairie (approximately 2/3 of acreage), upland prairie (approximately 1/3 of acreage) and sporadic assortment of fresh water marsh throughout the site.

Historic Transition from Crop Ground to Wetland:

On October of 2011, the ground was leased for the production of sweet corn which was processed by Norpac Foods in Stayton.  After nearly 100-acres were placed into the Wetland Reserve Program, crop production continued with sweet corn and beans on the remaining 18-acres of crop ground which was converted to "certified organic" after a 3-year phase in period from 2011-2014.

Photos below give an idea of the intensive use of the land prior to the ten year conversion process.  

 Sweet corn in northwest field.

Sweet corn in northwest field.

 Harvesting sweet corn, October, 2011.

Harvesting sweet corn, October, 2011.

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 November of 2011.  Conservation Boundary Easement sign posted.  Behind is field where sweet corn was harvested.

November of 2011.  Conservation Boundary Easement sign posted.  Behind is field where sweet corn was harvested.


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WETLAND PROJECT 2012


WETLAND PROJECT 2012


 Les Bachelor, District Conservationist, U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, develops conservation plan for Santiam Valley Ranch.

Les Bachelor, District Conservationist, U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, develops conservation plan for Santiam Valley Ranch.

 Properties are surveyed and marked as U.S.D.A. Wetland Reserve Program.

Properties are surveyed and marked as U.S.D.A. Wetland Reserve Program.

 Sloughgrass ( Beckmannia eruciformis)

Sloughgrass (Beckmannia eruciformis)

 Fool's Onion ( Brodiaea hyacinthina)

Fool's Onion (Brodiaea hyacinthina)

 Red-legged frog

Red-legged frog

 Western pond turtle

Western pond turtle

 Camas ( Camassia spp.)

Camas (Camassia spp.)

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Santiam Valley Ranch has red borders; the WRP land  is in green.  Two additional landowners participated, and are identified by blue and purple borders.  All total, approximately 400 acres were enrolled with the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service in the Wetland Reserve Program to re-establish wetland prairie and upland prairie.

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Wetland Project 2013


Wetland Project 2013


 Chris Seal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Kathy Bridges and David Stroppel, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, meet in March to discuss project options. In the truck behind them are empty containers which previously contained plugs of various wetland plants. 

Chris Seal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Kathy Bridges and David Stroppel, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, meet in March to discuss project options. In the truck behind them are empty containers which previously contained plugs of various wetland plants. 

 

Representatives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service discovered nesting Streaked Horn larks on the northeast field.  Because this bird is listed as "threatened" all activities in this area were put on-hold until solutions were found on how to restore the site without using equipment or herbicides.  Restoration in this area began in 2014, following the nesting season.

Restoration activities included removal of  fence and trees, thus creating open prairie. Irrigation pipe that was once abandoned in the field was found and removed, along with steel fence posts. Herbicide was applied too late in the season so control of vegetation was extended. 

 Fences removed from two properties on NW field-- left is Santiam Valley Ranch where the sweet corn was raised.

Fences removed from two properties on NW field-- left is Santiam Valley Ranch where the sweet corn was raised.

 Irrigation pipe abandoned along the fence line was removed.

Irrigation pipe abandoned along the fence line was removed.

 Shrubs and trees along the fence lines were removed along with the fence.

Shrubs and trees along the fence lines were removed along with the fence.

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 Removal of trees and fence on NE field and initiating contours creating wetland berms and seasonal ponds.

Removal of trees and fence on NE field and initiating contours creating wetland berms and seasonal ponds.

  Left and right are the same NW fields.  Above shows field where the sweet corn was raised in 2011.  The field was later sprayed with herbicide (note in photo on the right) to kill all plants with the goal to prepare a clean field for planting of wetland forbs. After establishment of the forbs, the fields will be supplemented with native grasses, largely Tufted hairgrass.

Left and right are the same NW fields.  Above shows field where the sweet corn was raised in 2011.  The field was later sprayed with herbicide (note in photo on the right) to kill all plants with the goal to prepare a clean field for planting of wetland forbs. After establishment of the forbs, the fields will be supplemented with native grasses, largely Tufted hairgrass.

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 Equipment is moved in onto the NE field.  Equipment used:  scrapper, two bulldozers, grader, excavator, and two tractors with mower and disc. 

Equipment is moved in onto the NE field.  Equipment used:  scrapper, two bulldozers, grader, excavator, and two tractors with mower and disc. 

 July begins work with dozers and scrappers to contour land for wetland.

July begins work with dozers and scrappers to contour land for wetland.

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 During September, the tree residue is burned.  The site is cleared from trees, fence posts, irrigation pipe and set to be restored to native wetland prairie.

During September, the tree residue is burned.  The site is cleared from trees, fence posts, irrigation pipe and set to be restored to native wetland prairie.

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 As the year ends, migrating waterfowl return to Santiam Valley Ranch.

As the year ends, migrating waterfowl return to Santiam Valley Ranch.

 October: Canada and Snow geese return to Santiam Valley Ranch.

October: Canada and Snow geese return to Santiam Valley Ranch.

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Wetland Project 2014


Wetland Project 2014


 
 Canada geese and Conservation Easement Boundary on right. 

Canada geese and Conservation Easement Boundary on right. 

 
 2014 LIFE AT SANTIAM VALLEY RANCH.  Waterfowl migration abounds each year at Santiam Valley Ranch.

2014 LIFE AT SANTIAM VALLEY RANCH. 
Waterfowl migration abounds each year at Santiam Valley Ranch.

 Trumpeter swans with Mt. Jefferson on right.

Trumpeter swans with Mt. Jefferson on right.

 Proposed wetland area is mowed, sprayed and/or disked. This is from the NE corner of the wetland area.

Proposed wetland area is mowed, sprayed and/or disked.
This is from the NE corner of the wetland area.

 NE corner of wetland area.  The berms have been mowed.  Some disking has occurred in low-lying pool areas.

NE corner of wetland area.  The berms have been mowed.  Some disking has occurred in low-lying pool areas.

 NE corner field.  Berms have been mowed, Pool areas still hold water in August from the past winter rains.  

NE corner field.  Berms have been mowed, Pool areas still hold water in August from the past winter rains.  

 NE corner field.  Disking in selected areas.

NE corner field.  Disking in selected areas.

 SW field completely disked on upper area.

SW field completely disked on upper area.

 NW field being mowed.  Field is infested with non-native wetland species.

NW field being mowed.  Field is infested with non-native wetland species.

 NE corner field.   Non-native vegetation.

NE corner field.   Non-native vegetation.

 SW field showing area that will be mowed and disking on the berms.

SW field showing area that will be mowed and disking on the berms.

 NW field showing signs of pool formation and emerging native wetland species.

NW field showing signs of pool formation and emerging native wetland species.

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Wetland Project 2015


Wetland Project 2015


Thousands of forbs (herbaceous flowering plants) have been planted during the winter and early spring.  Some areas are mowed and other areas are sprayed to kill grasses only.  Work continues on the hedgerow on the NE field.  There are a few areas on the farm that have not been addressed, including land adjacent to the irrigation ditch and the 8 acre field.  Emphasis has been given to the larger pieces of ground, hoping to follow-up with restoration work on smaller slivers of land.  

 

2015 -- NW field is sprayed and mowed.

 Mowing upland area disking shallow seasonal pool areas.

Mowing upland area disking shallow seasonal pool areas.

 Border line between Santiam Valley Ranch (left) and neighboring property owner to the west.

Border line between Santiam Valley Ranch (left) and neighboring property owner to the west.

 Looking toward wind turbine from SW field on Santiam Valley Ranch.

Looking toward wind turbine from SW field on Santiam Valley Ranch.

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 Wetland in foreground with organic sweet corn behind.

Wetland in foreground with organic sweet corn behind.

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 On 8 acres, mowing in field to control Reed canary grass.

On 8 acres, mowing in field to control Reed canary grass.

 8 acre field where trees were planted by Andy, Luke and Ken. 

8 acre field where trees were planted by Andy, Luke and Ken. 

 September, view of NW field.

September, view of NW field.

 September, view of SW field

September, view of SW field



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Wetland Project 2016


Wetland Project 2016


 
 2016 -- A tour of the wetland with Chris Seal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  (Paul Conner, Luke Fitzpatrick, Chris Seal and Ken Dunder)

2016 -- A tour of the wetland with Chris Seal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  (Paul Conner, Luke Fitzpatrick, Chris Seal and Ken Dunder)

 
 SW field with seasonal pools filled with Water-plantain ( Alisma spp.)  and an occasional Bulrush (  Schoenoplectus  spp  .).   

SW field with seasonal pools filled with Water-plantain (Alisma spp.) and an occasional Bulrush (Schoenoplectus spp.). 

 June, spraying and mowing continues on the NW field.

June, spraying and mowing continues on the NW field (above and below).

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Mowing continues on 8 acre field on the west field.

 Hall's aster ( Aster hallii )

Hall's aster (Aster hallii)

 Dense spike-primrose, ( Epilobium densiflorum )

Dense spike-primrose, (Epilobium densiflorum)

 NE field venal pools become more established with rushes, Water-plantains and cattails ( Typha spp .)

NE field venal pools become more established with rushes, Water-plantains and cattails (Typha spp.)

 Stinking chamomile, ( Anthemis cotula ), introduced species from Eurasia

Stinking chamomile, (Anthemis cotula), introduced species from Eurasia

 Fragrant popcorn flower, ( Plagiobothrys figuratus )

Fragrant popcorn flower, (Plagiobothrys figuratus)


THE TURTLE PROJECT:  Kathy applied to Oregon Water Enhancement Board as a partnership between herself and Luke to construct nine small ponds on their adjoining property. The Santiam Valley Wetland Enhancement Project grant was approved providing $10,000, with matching funds provided by Kathy and Luke. Implementation occurred in 2016-2018.

The project relied on “Guidance for Conserving Oregon’s Native Turtles Including Best Management Practices” from The Oregon Conservation Strategy Guidance for Conserving Oregon's Native Turtles 2015. Susan Barnes, Regional Conservation Biologist, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been available for technical assistance.

 Big Job Protecting Our Western Pond Turtles! Kathy holding OWEB grant, NRCS WRP Work Plan, Oregon Division of State Lands permit and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.

Big Job Protecting Our Western Pond Turtles!
Kathy holding OWEB grant, NRCS WRP Work Plan, Oregon Division of State Lands permit and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.

The project included on-going cooperation with U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation District and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service so that the completion would be compatible with the larger wetland restoration endeavors. The approved OWEB grant and "Guidance for Conserving Oregon's Native Turtles Including Best Management Practices" was added to the NRCS-WRP work plan for both properties.

IMPLEMENTATION:  The project was accomplished by first shaping and contouring the ground to create depressional wetlands of different sizes and depths. Excavated soil was retained on site and used to create areas of higher ground that would remain dry and/or are inundated for shorter duration. Created wetlands will hold water during the wet season and slowly drain to form ephemeral pools during drier periods. The wetlands are to be fed by precipitation and supplemented with water supplied though existing irrigation water rights from the Santiam Water Control District. Water supplementation is to occur during summer months from three irrigation outflow locations. Water is directed to the ponds through very shallow channels which emerge from existing underground irrigation risers.  Pumping of water is conducted off-site from the WRP project. Deeper wetland depressions may retain some water year-round depending on precipitation patterns and as allowed through irrigation water management. Wetlands with open water will provide essential habitat and aquatic life resources when the water table is lower in the summer months. 

One of the goals was to determine the preference for pond dimensions and structure by the turtle. There were nine ponds created:  1 - 30' x 30' pond, 3 - 15' x 15' ponds, and 5 - 10' x 10' ponds. The small ponds were excavated to a depth of 3-4’ with gradually sloping banks to hold water during summer months.

The soil work was followed by the planting of native wetland species as well as wetland emergents and sub-emergents. Native plantings will attract insects, an important food source for many species of wildlife including turtles and amphibians. Plantings will also provide egg mass attachment sites for Red-legged frog and other amphibians.

The project will provide specific habitat elements for targeted species. Large wood will be placed to create and enhanced the wetland and surrounding upland areas to provide amphibian and turtle basking sites and hiding cover. 

Several areas of suitable turtle nesting habitat will be created. This will be accomplished through earthwork and amending existing soils with a gravel component. Soil removed will be used to create nesting sites for turtles.  Turtle nesting mounds measuring 20’ x 20’ and ranging from 12” to 36” in height are composed of 25% or less of fine clay, 25% of loan, 25-50% of sand and 25% or less of small aggregate based on recommendations from Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Invasive plants will be managed/controlled throughout the life of the project.

Construction involved use of scraper, excavator, dozer and two dump trucks. 

 Surveying pond areas.

Surveying pond areas.

 Specialized aggregate for turtle nesting mounds.

Specialized aggregate for turtle nesting mounds.

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 Creating turtle nesting mounds.

Creating turtle nesting mounds.

 Creating turtle nesting mounds.

Creating turtle nesting mounds.

 Maple logs and cobblers for ponds.

Maple logs and cobblers for ponds.

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 Excavator creating turtle pond.

Excavator creating turtle pond.

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 30' x 30' pond near riparian vegetation at Santiam Valley Ranch.

30' x 30' pond near riparian vegetation at Santiam Valley Ranch.

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 One of three 15' x 15' pond located at Santiam Valley Ranch.

One of three 15' x 15' pond located at Santiam Valley Ranch.

 Ken installed the irrigation system to the ponds.  To test the system, water was turned on using the underground irrigation system.

Ken installed the irrigation system to the ponds.  To test the system, water was turned on using the underground irrigation system.

 Totality!  The Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.  AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!

Totality!  The Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017.  AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!

August 21, 2017, marked the total solar eclipse crossing the United States.  Santiam Valley Ranch is directly under the eclipse which is called "totality."

"A total eclipse occurs when the dark silhouette of the Moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible. During any one eclipsetotality occurs at best only in a narrow track on the surface of Earth."  (from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse)


 November, 2016. Review of project with Susan Barnes, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

November, 2016. Review of project with Susan Barnes,
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

 30' x 30' pond

30' x 30' pond

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 Rain has arrived and is filling depressional pockets within the landscape created by U.S.D.A. NRCS.

Rain has arrived and is filling depressional pockets within the landscape created by U.S.D.A. NRCS.

 Bald eagles find winter home at Santiam Valley Ranch.  Geese are a primary target.

Bald eagles find winter home at Santiam Valley Ranch.  Geese are a primary target.

 Winter returns. Life is enhanced listening to the calls of the geese for the next six months!

Winter returns. Life is enhanced listening to the calls of the geese for the next six months!

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Wetland Project 2017


Wetland Project 2017


 Different view on the SW field.

Different view on the SW field.

 Nelson's checker-mallow ( S  idalcea nelsonian ) listed as threatened species.

Nelson's checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsonian) listed as threatened species.

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 Springtime tour with Cameron King and Chris Seal, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  A raining but very exciting day to see the wetland bloom in the SW field.

Springtime tour with Cameron King and Chris Seal,
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  A raining but very exciting day to see the wetland bloom in the SW field.

 July, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grading around the turtle ponds.  Area around the ponds have been sprayed, awaiting planting of forbs and wetland species in 2018. 

July, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grading around the turtle ponds.  Area around the ponds have been sprayed, awaiting planting of forbs and wetland species in 2018. 

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 On of three 15' x 15' ponds on Santiam Valley Ranch.

On of three 15' x 15' ponds on Santiam Valley Ranch.

 Native Wetland Medium to Shallow Water Mix was planted in late fall of 2017.  In 2018, you can see the border around the ponds.

Native Wetland Medium to Shallow Water Mix was planted in late fall of 2017.  In 2018, you can see the border around the ponds.

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WETLAND PROJECT 2018


WETLAND PROJECT 2018


 Cameron King, USFWS, and Ken are sharing excitement about success in the NE field.

Cameron King, USFWS, and Ken are sharing excitement about success in the NE field.

Cameron King, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Ken enjoy the wetland blossoming on the NE field.  Over 26 wetland species have been planted by seeds or plugs creating a diversity of plants, offering habitat for birds and insects.  One top priority is to establish habitat for the Western meadowlark, the State Bird of Oregon, which now faces declined populations due to loss of habitat.

 Large-leaf lupine,  (Lupinus polyphyllus )

Large-leaf lupine, (Lupinus polyphyllus)

 Oregon geranium, ( Geranium oreganum )

Oregon geranium, (Geranium oreganum)

 Ken and Cameron view the hedgerow planted on the east side of the property.  The hedgerow is an assortment of plants including  Spirea , willows and native wild roses.

Ken and Cameron view the hedgerow planted on the east side of the property.  The hedgerow is an assortment of plants including Spirea, willows and native wild roses.

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 Aquatic plants arrive from Balance Restoration Nursery, Lorane, OR

Aquatic plants arrive from Balance Restoration Nursery, Lorane, OR

 Planting aquatic plants in north pond with Wapato emerging.

Planting aquatic plants in north pond with Wapato emerging.

  American brooklime  ( Veronica americana)

 American brooklime
 (Veronica americana)

 Luke holding Yellow pond lily, ( Nuphar lutea)

Luke holding Yellow pond lily,
(Nuphar lutea)

 Meadow checkerbloom, AKA Meadow checkermallow ( Sidalcea campestris).

Meadow checkerbloom, AKA Meadow checkermallow (Sidalcea campestris).

 Dock, ( Rumex spp .)

Dock, (Rumex spp.)

 Bradshaw's lomatium, (Lomatium spp.) listed as endangered species.

Bradshaw's lomatium, (Lomatium spp.) listed as endangered species.

 Narrow-leaf blue-eye grass, ( Sisyrinchium idahoense )

Narrow-leaf blue-eye grass, (Sisyrinchium idahoense)

 White pelicans visit Santiam Valley Ranch.

White pelicans visit Santiam Valley Ranch.

Turtle Project Continues
The acreage within the Santiam Valley Wetland Enhancement Project has been treated twice with herbicides by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, thus preparing for planting in the fall of 2018.   In June, aquatic species are planted into the nine ponds:  Yellow pond lily,
Oval leaf pondweed and American brooklime.

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 Turning on irrigation to ponds. 
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