Posts Tagged ‘Ceanothus’

Exploring New Milkweed Meadows in Rigdon

Jenny studying the plants in the still-green seep along the edge of the west meadow. The lush shrub at the top of the photo was a very healthy poison oak!

Back in February, I was invited to a Zoom meeting set up by Walama Restoration and the Middle Fork Ranger District to discuss ongoing restoration projects in the area and further work on purple (or heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) and monarchs (if their population bounces back) in the Rigdon area. At that meeting, I learned that last summer the district hired some surveyors to check out special habitats (I think that includes anything that isn’t forest!) on the west side of Hills Creek Reservoir and the Middle Fork of the Willamette. They surveyed a number of south-facing openings that I’d seen on Google Earth but never explored. I was very excited to hear that they found two new populations of milkweed! And these were farther north than any of our other sites, making them the new northern boundary of its range. Jenny Moore, the current district botanist, didn’t know much more about the sites or the milkweed itself there, so we discussed going up there together to see them for ourselves once the milkweed started blooming.

After seeing the milkweed starting to flower at Big Pine Opening a few weeks earlier (see Relaxing Day in Rigdon), I figured it was time. The weather was supposed to get hot again, so I was happy that Jenny was able to go out with me on Friday, May 28 before it got too hot for a steep bushwhack up low-elevation, south-facing, rocky meadows around 600′ above the road.

Beautiful spreads of woodland phlox (Phlox adsurgens) bloomed along the edge of the both the paved road and the gravel one we walked on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Bearbones Mountain

Looking to the northeast from the lowest tier we visited on the side ridge, you can see Groundhog Mountain (with all the logged areas) on the top ridge to Molly’s left and Moon Point and Youngs Rock to the right. Snow-covered Diamond Peak is in the distance. We wished we could see more snow on the lower elevations. I’ve still never been to the rocky opening in the near distance, but it is on my to-do list! 

Last year, a large downed tree kept me from getting to Bearbones Mountain. My previous trip had been back in May of 2017 (see Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones). I’d heard the road was open this year, and I was anxious to get back to see the early flowers, so on May 16, Molly Juillerat picked me up, and along with her energetic dog, Loki, we headed to Bearbones. I was relieved to finally get back there without any road issues. Bearbones Road 2127 goes through some private timber company land, and logging has taken a toll on the road over the past few years. It had been many more years since Molly had been there (and the first time for Loki!), so she was happy as well.

I’d never before noticed the interesting skirt at the base of this Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) just below the summit. That’s a common growth habit for subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) growing on ridges, but it’s very odd for growth for a yew. The bronze coloration of the upper needles is typical of plants on sunny ridges. The lavender flowers on the bottom left are mahala mat.

Read the rest of this entry »

Relaxing Day in Rigdon

On Sunday, May 9, I went for my first outing in almost a month—just too much to do at home, and the drought discouraged me from going to my favorite seepy spots that I’d planned on, like Deer Creek. I was really happy to be able to go out with my friend John Koenig, whom I hadn’t seen since last summer. Being vaccinated now is such a relief, and it is wonderful to safely hang out with others who are also vaccinated (if you’re hesitating—don’t!). We decided it might still be too early to try to go to higher elevations, even with all the warm weather, so we headed down to Hills Creek Reservoir and the Rigdon area to check out some of our favorite haunts. We had some vague plans but mostly just played it by ear, stopping wherever looked interesting. We ended up spending lots of time watching butterflies. We also had to warm up our “botany muscles,” trying to remember forgotten names.

At Everage Flat, we spent quite a long time watching butterflies on the Pacific dogwood flowers. This echo azure is enjoying the fresh flowers in the center of the showy bracts.

After a look at the gorgeous silvery lupine (Lupinus albifrons) at the north end of the reservoir and a brief stop to admire the blooming paintbrush on the cliffs along the reservoir, I pulled into Everage Flat Picnic Area (just south of the intersection of Youngs Creek Road 2129) as it occurred to me that we should see if the Howell’s violet (Viola howellii) was still in bloom. I expected it to be a very quick stop, so I even left my (all-electric) car on. But upon seeing that the large Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) in the sunny center of the picnic area was in perfect bloom and appeared to have butterflies flying around it, I parked the car for real. Our 2-minute stop turned into a 2-hour one! Read the rest of this entry »

Further Rigdon Area Meadow Exploration

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to keep up with the blog. I went out another 16 times since my last report in July, but I just didn’t seem to have the time to post. So—now that the year is just about over—I thought I’d try to at least post some photos from the most interesting of those trips—many were just seed-collecting trips to familiar places for the restoration work on my own property.

Looking for more purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) sites in the Rigdon area of southeastern Lane County was still one of my top priorities for the year. While I wasn’t able to find milkweed in most of them, I did find some interesting spots.
 

July 6

Purple milkweed dying back at the quarry meadow.

Crystal Shepherd, who worked as a botanist in the Middle Fork district last year, told me about a site where she found “one lonely Asclepius” last year. It was a very small opening above an old quarry along Youngs Creek Road 2129. I decided I’d better check it out it myself. I had looked at the meadow alongside the quarry many years ago in early spring but had never been back, even though it is just above the road that I’ve driven up countless times. I was thrilled to discover there was actually milkweed in the quarry meadow itself. I only spotted 10 plants, but some were already largely collapsed on the ground, so there may well be more than I saw. Before the quarry tore into the meadow, there might have been a much larger population. There were also a lot of other nice wildflowers in this meadow, including tons of tall bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata) going to seed (but not ripe yet—darn!) and quite a bit of blooming western rayless fleabane (Erigeron inornatus), what I’ve come to feel is a regular associate of purple milkweed. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Near Grassy Glade

A lovely madrone (Arbutus menziesii) grows on the backside of the rocky ridge.

On my most recent trip (see Surveying Milkweed at Maple Creek Meadow), I had seen an intriguing rocky slope to the east. I realized it was one of the sites in the Rigdon area of southeastern Lane County that I had made a note to survey. It was just north of Grassy Glade, where there is a good population of purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia), so I decided for my next outing, on May 15, to check it out, as well as some other openings in that area. Read the rest of this entry »

More New Meadows in the Rigdon Area

Looking south toward the Calapooyas from “Buckbrush Meadow,” Dome Rock can be seen on the far left, and the snowy patch in the center is Bristow Prairie.

On April 22nd, John Koenig and I went back down to Rigdon to continue looking at meadows we hadn’t visited before. This time we chose several near Youngs Rock Road 1929. One small opening sitting atop a ridge off of Road 423, an apparently little-used logging road, had intrigued us. There didn’t seem to be much of a reason for an open spot in the woods there. This was my first day playing with the free Avenza mapping app I’d put on my fairly new iPhone. I had downloaded (again for free!) all the USGS quad maps for the area, placing them in a folder together on the phone so they’d be connected. I had also spent some time the night before looking at the Google Maps aerial view of the area on the phone while I was connected the night before. We had to find the spot along the road to park at and follow a ridge through woods to the hidden meadow. The GPS on the phone worked perfectly with the maps and aerial view to show me exactly where we were and where we were going. This is even better than my old GPS! Read the rest of this entry »

First Meadow Survey of 2018

John enjoying the view (and a moment of sunshine) at our first new meadow site of the year.

On Monday, January 29, John Koenig and I attended a meeting of the Southern Willamette Forest Collaborative at the Forest Service office in Westfir. The purpose of the meeting was to propose surveying projects in the Rigdon area of the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest (south of Oakridge and Hills Creek Reservoir). Earlier in the month, Molly Juillerat, the district botanist, and I met to talk about meadows we want to survey, especially those that might have purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia). I spent some time looking at Google Earth searching for potential meadow sites I hadn’t been to yet and put together a list of 16 low-elevation open areas I think are worth checking out. Read the rest of this entry »

A Week of Monarchs and Milkweed: Day 2

Two monarch caterpillars sharing the same purple milkweed plant.

Nancy Bray and I had been planning a trip to the North Umpqua for quite a while. I was rather torn between going to some of my favorite places in Douglas County and looking for more milkweed and monarch sites. As luck would have it, I was able to do both. While checking the distribution of purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) on the Oregon Flora Project Atlas, I had noticed one record of milkweed on Medicine Creek Road 4775 in the North Umpqua area from 1994. While out with Crystal Shepherd on Monday, she told me she used to work at the Diamond Lake District and had seen the milkweed at that site just 5 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Potter Mountain

Last July, I discovered an awesome new spot in the Calapooyas, Potter Mountain (see Natural Rock Garden at Potter Mountain). Since I’d missed the early bloom, it was high on my list of sites to revisit this year. On Sunday, May 31, I returned to see what else might be up there. Staley Creek Road 2134 is usually in good shape, but it did require moving a few small rocks. Still I got up there no trouble (and left it a little clearer for my next trip up). The day was rather overcast but the clouds came in waves, so I did get some sun off and on.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

Read the rest of this entry »

Expect the Unexpected

A very happy Siskiyou fritillary on Heavenly Bluff.

Siskiyou fritillaries sure grow well on Heavenly Bluff.

With a week of dry weather and the snow quickly retreating to higher elevations, I wanted to head back to Heavenly Bluff to get another look at the beautiful Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca) there. Last year when John Koenig and I went up there (see Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County ), we were having an extremely dry May, and despite some snow on the road, the frits were past peak. I thought we might have better luck this year since, although things are still early, we’ve had regular rain all spring. So Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I headed up toward Heavenly Bluff on May 12, just 2 days later than my trip with John last year. After all the obstacles on the road on that trip, I figured we’d better have a backup plan, so since we were going right by the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, we could go there if we couldn’t make it to Heavenly Bluff.

I was surprised at how good the road condition was for the first half of May—no snow, no logs, and not even a rock out of place. Then we discovered why when we passed a brushcutter along the road. I talked to someone at the ranger station later who said they had no one working up there, but there is a lot of private timber company land in the area, and there was some sign of thinning, so it could be they are getting ready for more logging. In any case, we were able to make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff. Why someone would clear that final deadend spur road, I don’t know. But I was very pleased to be able to drive right to where we could walk easily up through the woods to the opening. Pleased that is until we got out of the car and discovered the tire was flat. Perhaps it was the very short section of the spur road where there were a lot of small, sharp rocks, or perhaps the tire was already leaking as I’d had to inflate it last week when it looked a little low. Whatever the reason, changing a tire had not been on my agenda. I couldn’t face dealing with it immediately, and I was not about to miss out on my botanizing, having come all this way, so we headed up to the bluff. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Categories
Archives
Notification of New Posts