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.
Overall Goal: The goal of this project was to restore over 45 acres of wetland habitat within Trout Lake Natural Area Preserve. Three areas were identified for restoration on the preserve that provide important habitat for the Oregon Spotted Frog, Sandhill Crane and two rare plants, pale blue-eyed grass and rosy owl clover. Various treatment methods were used to control nonnative species depending on the area. In the western portion of the preserve a total of 10 acres was mowed where it was possible to use a large tractor mower. In the wetter areas that could not be mowed with machinery, hand held weed eaters were used to cut the vegetation. In the sensitive Oregon Spotted Frog egg laying areas we have been implementing a “cut and cover” technique to restore the native vegetation. Areas with dense nonnative grasses that had been previously mowed were covered with weed cloth to shade out the vegetation. After two years portions of the weed cloth is removed and native grasses and sedges are planted. More weed cloth is then installed around the plantings and this technique continues until the entire area has been treated. Overall 2 acres of habitat was treated with this technique and over 4,500 plants installed over three years. Because these areas are essential for egg laying only small portions are covered at a time to allow enough suitable habitat to remain each year for egg laying. Hand removal of nonnative grasses in the planting areas was ongoing. In drier portions of the meadow, outside of the Oregon Spotted Frog egg laying areas a grass specific herbicide is applied during the dry summer. This herbicide is effective at controlling reed canary grass while not negatively effecting the native sedges and rushes. This technique was used to treat 25 acres throughout the preserve. In addition to treating the nonnative grasses, other species were treated such as hawkweed and knapweed with a selective herbicide. Mapping of all rare plants was conducted before treatments to avoid herbicide treatments around the rare plants. An additional 500 grass and sedge plants were planted in select treatment areas. Native grass and forb seed was broadcast seeded in areas treated with herbicide. Prescribed burning was evaluated as a possible treatment to restore the native vegetation, but was not feasible during the time of this grant application. Prescribed burning may be an option in the future if funding and environmental conditions allow. Interpretive signs: Development of restoration and education signs began with the grant funding. Limited staffing did not allow for the completion of the signs. Work will continue with DNR program funds to complete the design and installation of the signs.