Grassland Restoration in South Puget Sound

Category Overview

The State Lands Restoration and Enhancement category provides funding to two state agencies to help repair damaged plant and animal habitat. These grants focus on resource preservation and protection of public lands. Projects in this category help bring important natural areas and resources back to their original functions by improving the self sustaining and ecological functionality of sites.

Project Highlights

Integrated Habitat Restoration with Prescribed Fire Integrated habitat restoration, which includes prescribed fire, mowing of burned shrubs, herbicide to control exotics, seeding, and planting was conducted in both 2016and 2017. We will discuss these by site. Scatter Creek Wildlife Area – In 2016, we conducted 22 acres of integrated restoration at both the north and south units of Scatter Creek. In 2017, we were presented with a unique opportunity to greatly increase our restoration acreage. A wildfire hit the south unit of Scatter Creek, burning approximately 220 acres of prairie habitat, as well as over 60 acres of forest. By combining remaining funds for West Rocky Prairie and Scatter Creek, we were able to apply integrated habitat restoration to approximately 190 acres within the project footprint, including control of exotic grasses, seeding, and planting. Additional funding was obtained from other sources to provide additional seed for the project and focused work on an endangered species, the Taylor’s checkerspot. By focusing funds to address the wildfire, we dramatically increased efficient use of resources. We exceeded all metrics for integrated restoration. In 2016, we seeded 45 lbs of mixed native species and 15 pounds of bulbs of 2 species at Scatter Creek in restoration units. . In addition we planted 18,300 plugs of native species at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in 2016. In 2017, all planting and seeding was conducted at the south unit of Scatter Creek Wildlife Area, over approximately 190 acres. Seeding included over 900 lbs of native grass seed 183 pounds of native forb seed (annuals and perennials, 11 lbs of bulbs, and we planted 14,151 plugs of native perennial plants for specific purposes, including endangered butterfly foodplants, and rare or endangered plants like the federally listed golden paintbrush. We planted a variety of rare plants at Scatter Creek during the project period. Of special interest, we planted 1400 plugs of the state endangered rose checkermallow in restoration units. This plant is only known from Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Washington State. In addition, we restored a 4 acre wet prairie through the addition of a variety of plants, including 2 in particular important for the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Spring 2018 monitoring not associated with this project showed the plants doing well, and the butterfly using one species we reintroduced, Plagiobothyrs figuratus. West Rocky – We conducted prescribed fire on 22.7 acres in 2016. Post-fire weed control was conducted on all acres. Due to post-fire site conditions, seeding and planting was conducted on only 21acres. We also seeded 10 acres that had been previously burned with native grass to increase cover. Total pounds of native seed was 25, 4 lbs of native bulbs, and 6,300 plugs of native species were planted. Enhancement for the federally threatened Golden paintbrush enhancement was conducted in 2016 and 2017. We identified one 8 acre unit for enhancement. 2000 plugs of golden paintbrush were planted there in 2016 and 2017 and 41 grams of seed were sown in 2016. Mima Mounds – Two units, 6 acres and 17 acres in size, were treated for exotics in 2016 and 2017, and prepared for prescribed burning in 2017. Only the 6-acre unit was burned, due to restricted time period for burning in 2017 due to weather conditions and fallout from the wildfire that burned through Scatter Creek and adjacent private lands earlier in the summer. Because burning was not possible for the 22 acre unit, we controlled Scot’s broom via herbicide in late summer 2017. The prescribed burn in the 6-acre unit was successful, killing >90% of Scot’s broom and preparing substantial areas for seeding and planting. The unit was seeded with 10.6 kg of seed, including 27 species, and planted with 6,580 plugs of 15 species. This unit also employed use of solarization on treated mounds to help kill exotic species seeds in the soil and reduce seed rain onto these sites. Rocky Prairie – One 3-acre unit was treated for exotics in 2016 and prescribe-burned in fall 2016. The unit was seeded with 10.0 kg of seed, including 27 species, and planted with 15,000 plugs of 24 species. Bald Hill – 32 spot locations were burned, including slash piles and treated invasive grass patches, in fall 2016 and fall 2017. These locations were then seeded with a total of 16.5 kg of seed of 18 species, and planted with 150 plugs of two species (hosts for Castilleja hispida). Invasive Plant Control In addition to control of exotic, invasive plants in the integrated restoration units, larger-scale control was also implemented, focusing on Scot’s broom and tall oatgrass, at all sites. Scatter Creek Wildlife Area – Scot’s broom control was conducted over 397 acres, and tall oatgrass control was conducted over 99 acres. Control occurred over 2 years, from project initiation through fall 2017. West Rocky – Scot’s broom control was conducted over 140 acres and tall oatgrass control was conducted over 39 acres. Mima Mounds – 10 acres of tall oatgrass were treated with herbicide in spring 2016. 176 acres of Scot’s broom were treated with herbicide in late summer 2016. 310 acres of tall oatgrass were treated in spring 2017. 17.5 acres of Scot’s broom were treated with herbicide in late summer 2017. Rocky Prairie – 27 acres were treated with herbicide for tall oatgrass and hand-pulled for Scot’s broom in both 2016 and 2017. Bald Hill – 17 acres were treated with a combination of herbicide and hand pulling for orchard grass, velvetgrass, sweet vernalgrass, ox-eye daisy, and hairy cat’s ear. Oak Release We conducted oak release over 7 acres at Scatter Creek Wildlife Area through 1) careful evaluation of trees needing to be released, 2) consideration of trees that could be removed through commercial logging, and 3) creation of snags where conifers could not be otherwise removed. Map attached. Oregon spotted frog wetland habitat management We removed small trees and shrubs, and controlled reed canarygrass over 1 acre at West Rocky Prairie. The goal of the project was to enlarge and enhance habitat occupied by Oregon spotted frogs. Maps attached. 32 trees were cut (small diameter trees) or treated to create snags (larger diameter trees), over 3 acres at the south end of Rocky Prairie to open growing space for Garry oak trees in this area.

Quick Facts

WWRP Applicant: Fish & Wildlife Dept of Category: State Lands Restoration & Enhancement WWRP Grant: $387,700.00 Applicant Match: $0.00 Project Type: Restoration County: Thurston Legislative District: 02, 35 Status: Closed Completed RCO Project # 14-1697

Location Details

From Olympia, head south on interstate 5 to the Maytown exit, head west from the exit toward Littlerock. Turn south on Case Rd, and drive south approximately 5.5 miles. Access for the northern unit of Scatter Creek including 2 parkings lots on the left. Continue south on Case Road to 180th, turn right for 1/4 mile, and then right again into the parking lot for the south unit of Scatter Creek Wildlife Area

What is the WWRP

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is a state grant program that creates and conserves local and state parks, wildlife habitat and working farms. The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office administers WWRP grants, and the legislature funds the program.