The South Fork John Day Watershed Council received $114,279 from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board for rapid riparian re-vegetation of the Upper South Fork John Day River, according to a watershed council press release.
The five-year project is located along 4 miles of private land on the Upper South Fork John Day River, near Izee, and is planned to begin in April 2017.
The primary objective of the rapid riparian re-vegetation planting approach is to achieve canopy cover as quickly as possible through the use of woody plants and beaver dam analogues. The project intends to plant 2,300-2,500 plants/acre and fight invasive vegetation that impede native plant growth and regeneration.
The rapid riparian re-vegetation technique is regularly used west of the Cascades in wetter climates, according to council coordinator Amy Stiner, but this will be the first time the technique has been used in the area.
The council is working with ecologist Kendra Smith, who is confident the technique will work for this area.
“If it does work, we will be able to vegetate all these streams so much quicker and make the water quality and temperature so much better,” Stiner said.
The project will also raise the water table, allowing irrigation fields to have water longer into the summer.
Projects goals include improving aquatic, terrestrial riparian habitat, and wildlife forage, by focusing on vegetation structure and species diversity. Other desired outcomes include the improvement in water quality through increased shade and buffering of sediment and other pollutants from entering the water column, and improvement in nutrient cycling.
“This project can add powerful additional insight in addressing re-vegetation challenges in very dry conditions,” Stiner said in an email. “We view this project as a thoughtful ‘experiment’ but based in a well-grounded understanding of ecological processes.”
Project partners include the St. Clair Ranch, the IZ Ranch LLC, Cascade Pacific RC&D, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners For Fish and Wildlife and consulting ecologist Kendra Smith.