The Field Day at Half Moon Bend Restoration Demonstration site (Sept 25, 2013) seems to have been a success with about 50 people turning out for the event. Participants came from conservation groups and agencies, local governments, farming and forestry. Not that it went off without a hitch – recent rains prevented us from driving in, giving us all some exercise but less time to take a self-guided tour of the plots, but we still saw a lot of interaction and discussion among participants.
The purpose of this demonstration project overall and key objectives for the Field Day were to:
- help broaden the communication and involvement among and between the conservation, farm and forest landowner communities
- illustrate a variety of management approaches to restoring bottomland hardwood forest communities
- expand the time frame considered in restoration projects beyond the planting and establishment phase
All this is reflected in the makeup of the projects partnership which includes Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (the landowner), to local farm conservationists, OSU Extension, Benton SWCD and Myer Memorial Trust.
The Field Day had two sections. Tools and Practices for Restoration covered by local farmers Marvin Gilmour and Peter Kenagy, and Ed Peachy, OSU Department of Horticulture. Marvin and Peter gave the history of the site, discussed some of the site preparation and establishment management decisions made, and where things might be headed, all from their perspective with over 40 years of familiarity they each have with the site. Ed discussed principals of effective site preparation and his herbicide screening research, some of which resulted in a Special Local Needs lable for Sure Guard pre emergent herbicide (Flumioxazin) now available for weed control in restoration plantings.
Growing and managing hardwood riparian forests was covered by Glenn Ahrens and Brad Withrow-Robinson both with OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension. Glenn discussed the natural history and adaptive strategies of hardwoods, and how that is reflected in successful establishment practices. He drew on lessons learned from research he was involved in back in the 1990s on nursery and planting practices for hardwoods. Brad led a discussion identifying specific ecological functions provided by the adjacent mature forest, reviewed how trees and shrubs grow and respond to competition and how that affects future stand conditions and functions. That was then applied to the different planting scenarios in the Demo (changing planting density, arrangement in inputs such as irrigation), and how each might tend develop in the next several decades.
All this led to a lively conversation between and among participants and presenters, although there was not really enough time to cover and thoroughly discuss everything that came up. Some of the topics discussed included: the relative costs associated with some of the different approaches demonstrated (as well as approaches not demonstrated); the value of involving farmers in the management process (including the decision making); applicability of various approaches to different sized projects in different landscape settings and; the powerful effect of funding processes and entities imposing expectations that do not align with the biology of the system.
Some issues also emerged that deserve more coverage in the future, including: more time at the site to explore the different plots and discuss the rational for different densities and arrangements; non-herbicide approaches to planting and establishment; funding constraints; and future maintenance.
I will try to address some of the things in future blogs, and Field Days.
Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Extension, Linn Benton and Polk Counties