Region 1 – plant extinction

Region 1 – plant extinction – Brief Article

LaRee Brosseau

Fish and Wildlife Service regional endangered species staffers have reported the following news:

Non-native Plant Control The 22nd annual “Lupine Bash” took place recently at the Lanphere Dunes Unit of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). This event, cosponsored by the Fish and Wildlife Service, California Native Plant Society, and Friends of the Dunes, focuses on one of the area’s troublesome non-native plant species. The yellow bush lupine (Lupinus arboreus) is native to the dunes of central and southern California, but not northern California where the refuge is found. This legume was introduced to Humboldt Bay in 1908. Since then, it has spread invasively and now covers over 44 percent of the habitat for two endangered plants on the Humboldt Bay dunes. (Another invasive, European beachgrass, Ammophila arenaria, covers an additional 38 percent). Yellow bush lupine has been removed from the Lanphere Dunes Unit each year since 1985, but new plants continue to emerge from the seedbank. Volunteers from the community chopped and pulled plants, once again leaving the refuge dunes lupine-free.

Refuge volunteer Kyle Wear collected soil samples from our continuing study on the effects of applying sawdust to restored areas that have been previously nitrified by yellow bush lupine. (Like other legumes, the lupine fixes atmospheric nitrogen in its roots.) Soil overly-rich in nitrogen is detrimental to the refuge’s native plants. The presence of the carbon in sawdust stimulates the growth of microbes that consume nitrogen, thus acting as an “anti-fertilizer.” We are carrying out this experiment in collaboration with Dr. Peter Alpert of the University of Massachusetts. This study, now in its third year, may require up to 5 years before a reduction in nitrogen levels is evident.

Staff from the Lanphere Dunes Unit joined staff from the Service’s Arcata, California, Fish and Wildlife Office for a day of digging European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) at the south end of Clam Beach. This site was cleared of beachgrass when the Mad River abruptly changed its course last winter, and last summer it was used for nesting by the threatened western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus). The cooperative effort is aimed at eliminating newly-sprouting beachgrass in order to keep it from regaining a foothold. The Service will ask Humboldt County, the landowner, to continue to maintain this effort after nesting season is over.

San Francisco Bay NWR Biologist Ivette Loredo and Intern Ross Wilming, accompanied by refuge volunteers Frank and Janice Delfino, held the second Antioch Dunes evening-primrose (Oenothera deltoides ssp. howelli) “Planting Party” of the season on January 29 at Antioch Dunes NWR. Refuge staff have conducted prescription burns on this unit for the past 3 years to control exotic vegetation and promote recovery of the endangered primrose. Last December, during the first “Planting Party” of the season, 425 primroses were planted on this unit. Unfortunately, the weeks that followed were very dry, causing great stress on the new seedlings. Eighty of these plants were replaced on January 29, and an additional 175 new primroses were also planted that day. The 600 total plants are individually numbered and tagged, and will be monitored for survival and regeneration. Continual weeding around each plant will be done frequently, especially as new seedlings emerge at the time of seed germination next year.

Columbia Spotted Frog (Rana luteiventris) Staff from the Service’s Snake River Basin Office in Boise, Idaho, presented awards to three ranching families at the Owyhee County Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting. The awards were given in recognition of the ranchers’ cooperation and willingness to allow access to private property to survey and monitor sites that support the Great Basin population of Columbia spotted frog. We hope that this recognition will lead to continued cooperation for long-term monitoring efforts.

Reported by LaRee Brosseau of the Service’s Portland, Oregon, Regional Office.

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