Vegetation Team Meeting

Clark Fork River Delta Restoration Project Species Selection Workshop
Venue: Waterlife Discovery Center, 2100 Lakeshore Drive, Sagle, ID 83860
When: April 25, 2014 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Workshop goal: The purpose of the workshop was to develop a revegetation species list appropriate for the Clark Fork River Delta Restoration Project. The priority is to identify potential herbaceous species to use.

Vegetation Team Leader: Kate Walker
Co-Leader: Derek Antonelli

Bob Wilson
Denny Dawes
Jim Derrig
Ken Thacker
LeAnn Abell
Molly McCahon
Ray Entz
Jack Zimmerman
Greg Becker
Kathy Cousins

1:00 pm – Introductions


1:10 pm – Project Update
Kathy Cousins updated the group on the Project scope and phased-in approach, noting that the intent is to completely protect and restore Area 3, and to leave the roadways in to Areas 7 and 11 for future winter work. She reviewed the rationale for why this decision was made. Cousins also reviewed a few of the project engineered sections (Slide 4) showing how the landscape may look after the construction is completed.

1:20 pm – Overview of Revegetation timeline and Design
Kate Walker Started with a review of the Project Objectives and noted that the revegetation objectives in the Planting Plan support the Project’s goal and objectives. She explained that the workshop today was focused on discussing and selecting the herbaceous component of the Planting Plan because of the urgent need to start growing the plants this May so they are ready in early spring of 2015. The proposed Planting Plan is still being prepared and is dependent up on decisions made by the group.

Walker then spoke to the timeline proposed in the Planting Plan (Slide 6). She noted that the timeline includes time for planning, procurement of vegetation, and then the implementation of planting activities. She noted that the total area to revegetate is approximately 80 acres that include 10.91 acres of emergent bench/toe (at 2,061.5 feet in elevation), 66.49 acres of low fill/scrub-shrub/ bank (at 2,064 feet in elevation), and 2.30 acres of high fill/forested wetland (at 2,066 feet or higher in elevation).

Derek Antonelli then reviewed the species list that was prepared for the participants to review. Antonelli explained that he used the plant list developed for the Pack River delta restoration effort as well as species encountered during monitoring efforts in the Clark Fork River delta on Carters Island and White Island. He also used monitoring information obtained from parcels along the Pend Oreille River and wildlife mitigation parcels managed under the Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area (WMA). In addition, plants were added from observations made during the survey searching for water howellia and from others involved in the Native Plant Societies.

Walker then introduced the criteria developed for selecting the plants (Slide 9) such as the plant’s native status and whether the plant is available commercially (Slide 13) or needs to be collected. Antonelli noted that establishing whether a plant is “native” is not always straightforward. The USDA Plants Database may state the plant is native to the U.S., but this does not mean that the plant is native to the Clark Fork delta. Walker noted that while the participants are reviewing the species list, it may be important to weigh the differences such that if a plant has a high rate of spread and establishes easily, then it might be cost-efficient in that less of this plant needs to be purchased.

Walker also explained that seed mixes and cuttings would be used in the project, as well as nursery grown plugs, bareroot and container plants (Slide 14). She also noted that another possible technique might be the use of native sod mats (Slide 15), where herbaceous plugs are grown into core matting. This technique is expensive ($185 per 3×16 ft. mat) but could be used in areas where plant establishment needs to occur quickly.

Walker also supplied the participants with literature on the rates of establishment and ecological functions (Slide 17) for different plant species. She noted that plants can provide wildlife habitat, erosion control and can outcompete unwanted weeds. Other important criteria for plant selection included considerations for enhancing recreational experiences, whether the plant has cultural significance and the potential for research species. Walker noted that one of the handouts was a list of traditional native plants prepared by the Kalispel Tribe for the Avista relicensing of their Clark Fork River hydroelectric projects.

The group was encouraged to take time to review the species list and materials. Walker noted that future meetings would include discussions regarding the selection of woody plant species and reviewing the draft Planting Plan. Other needs will include identifying willow collection areas, identifying leaders or willow collection groups and planting groups, and organizing volunteers

1:50 pm – Group Discussions
Jim Derrig commented that some species would need to be selected to assist in weed management. Cousins noted that JJ Teare, IDFG Regional Habitat Manager, was the leader for the Weed Team, and that this team was to meet very soon to start developing a Weed Management Plan. Denny Dawes noted that this Project was interesting because the herbaceous component was located within feet of the woody components – he said this is unlike anywhere else where the herbaceous and woody components are located much further away from one another. It was noted that the hydrologic regime is somewhat backward to what occurred historically, and that might be a challenge for some species.

Ray Entz commented on the sod matting technique noting that the mats can be difficult to handle. He said that the Tribe used this technique on the Goose Creek parcel (just before Coolin, turn left on Squaw Valley Road and travel about three miles downstream of fish barrier). Walker asked about other sod matting reference sites. LeAnn Abell suggested Kootenai River. Entz said that they also tried planting plugs through one inch core fabric and used straw to protect seeds and stabilize the soil. Entz said that both methods performed similarly. Entz also offered to donate some native sod matting that the Tribe is currently growing and experimenting with. Jack Zimmerman did not suggest using them. Dawes said that he has used coir fabric with half inch squares for plugs.

Holly McCahon asked if we have considered the use of seeded matting. Not at this point and discussion of expense.

Regarding the plant selection list, Entz noted that they all seemed like good plants. He suggested adding water potato to the “Deep Zone” plant list. It requires nursery plants and should be planted in niches along northern facing slopes. Entz said that he knows of sources for the plant noting that they should be harvested in August. Antonelli suggested that the plants be harvested and put in the Pack River delta to hold them until they are ready for the Clark Fork. Abell noted that northern plantain occurs within Wapato patches so it can be potentially collected along with the Wapato.

The group noted that tufted hairgrass and other plants that are quick to establish would be desirable to provide that instant stability. Dawes noted that the woolgrass and small bulrush is a good combination to inhibit reed canarygrass. Entz suggested putting out “starter species” such as Glyceria to outcompete reed canarygrass.

LeAnn Abell noted that during the water howelli survey, the reed canarygrass stands were like a biological desert, a monoculture. The reed canarygrass creates habitats that exclude others species to establish; the mounding created by reed canary grass excludes sedges that cannot survive on the somewhat elevated substrate.

There may be some areas warrant putting in species such as cattail to act as a “border patrol”, deterring reed canarygrass from establishing.

Question was asked if the different micro elevations were going to be delineated. Dawes suggested it was imperative that the high water mark be identified. Cousins said she would make the survey request to the Project engineers.

Entz also strongly suggested to avoid flowering rush sites (known to occur in Area 11 and in one area north of Area 3). Cousins would make a note for the contractors and Weed Team.

Bob Wilson also suggested another native seed source: Western Native Seeds, also a good bulb source.

See Species Criteria chart for specific species decisions at: Herbaceous Plant Selection Critera

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