September 14, 2020

Fire at Elk Rock Island

Elk Rock Island is a unique natural resource area and in public ownership in Milwaukie, Oregon. Over the last forty years there has been an ongoing effort to conserve the ecological resources on the island. Portland Parks & Recreation and the City of Milwaukie created a joint management plan for both Elk Rock Island and Spring Park, completed in the 1995 https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/469533 . In 2017 an iNaturalist place https://www.inaturalist.org/places/elk-rock-island was established to inventory the biological resources of the island. Although incomplete this inventory has identified new and uncommon taxa not observed by previous studies.
On 9 September 2020 there was an uncontrolled fire on the island. Images published by KGW show flames above the tree canopy https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/wildfire/fire-breaks-out-on-elk-rock-island-milwaukie/283-c40ed9d5-16c7-4145-878f-e16624e21437 and https://pamplinmedia.com/lor/48-news/479842-387503-wednesday-night-fire-on-elk-rock-island-contained-officials-say-pwoff. This occurred during a high wind event and fire storm in the Cascades and Willamette Valley.
A quick assessment of the fire area was undertaken on 12 September to determine the area of burn and an understanding of ecological damage. Images of selected fire damage can be seen at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?user_id=carexobnupta&on=2020-09-12&place_id=any&verifiable=any . From GPS tagged photos the burn area is estimated at approximately 1.3 acres. This area is at the south and SE edge of the island. Three ecological niches were found to be impacted: the upland woodland 0.7 acres, the south and east cliff face and talus deposits 0.4 acres, and the south basalt scab 0.2 acres. The woodland is a mixture of Oregon Oak, Pacific Madrone, Big-leaf Maple, and Douglas-fir. Portland Parks & Recreation conducted an Oregon Oak release removal of the conifers in the burn area to restore and enhance the habitat’s functions and values. The cliff face and upper were vegetated with Himalayan Blackberry, Atlantic Ivy, and some native understory shrubs and the base of the cliff a mixture of rock fall and debris with a Hawthorn clone and Rose hedge. The talus slopes were poorly vegetated but have been developing a grass and forb cover, mostly non-native species over the last 40 years. The basalt scab was largely unvegetated except with a thin cover of non-native grasses and forbs.

Based on the US Forest Service Soil Burn Severity Level criteria, the burn area was found to consist of a range of soil impacts. As the fire was quickly contained and limited in area there was not the complexity of a larger wildland fire, the very low and unburned class are not present or outside the burn footprint. The soil damage ranged from low to high and was largely dependent on the vegetative canopy. The basalt scab with a light cover of grass and forbs can be rated low. The cliff face and upper steep slopes and bottom talus slopes are medium. The woodland area is a mix of medium and severe soil damage. The upland area west of the trail is the location of the most sever soil destruction with soil completely removed of organic matter and oxidized. This area is a Big-leaf Maple woodland structure with both dead standing trees and large wood on the ground.

Some assessment of the vegetation loss was made in a limited manor. The native vegetation at the site is adapted to sustain itself in a high fire environment with features or responses that allow survival. Oregon Oak, Pacific Madrone, and Big-leaf Maple demonstrate a strong ability to re-sprout from roots and crown. Douglas-fir and Oregon Oak both have bark that protects the cambium layer during a fire event. The structural damage to the trees will require both an inspection for immediate public safety and a reassessment after the spring season. There was no attempt to assess the death of the canopy or the structural condition. Nearly complete removal of the ground level grasses and forbs and the low shrubs occurred. The tall shrubs and tree samplings sustained a range of damages. The loss of vegetation is such that mitigation and enhancement are needed. These treatments should be consistent with the high value Oak-Madrone woodland function and values. This beneficial treatment resulted in renewed vigor of both Oregon Oak and Madrone and the associated Oak-Madrone understory. It is recommended that additional Oak release be part of site restoration. This may be an ideal outcome if the damage to the Douglas-fir indicates removal. The area of high intensity soil damage was dominated by Big-leaf Maple both standing dead and living. Dead standing trees can be observed in the 2019 Google Earth image along with an opening in the canopy. This location should be re-vegetated with Oregon Oak and the associated understory vegetation. An effort to mitigate the fire damage with Oregon Oak Canopy would be the most beneficial treatment for responding to the fire damage. The fire also had an impact on the non-native ecologically damaging weeds Hedera hibernica and Rubus bifrons. Mitigation and conservation restoration treatments require further analysis and development. The subareas in the fire area are unique such that each requires a separate treatment plan. The Oak-Madrone community should be designed so that it is consistent with Classification of Oak Vegetation in the Willamette Valley https://inr.oregonstate.edu/biblio/classification-oak-vegetation-willamette-valley.

Posted on September 14, 2020 03:39 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 10, 2020

Fire in the Molalla River Watershed

Today, the light outside is an eerie yellow an overwhelming and oppressive reminder of the fires burning in the Cascades https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7174/. The fire reported as the Beachie Creek Fire (citing The Riverside Fire was an error) was driven by gale force winds and has burned west into the Molalla River Basin. This is one of three fires in the Northern Cascade Range is reported to have burned 120,000 acres, a century event. This fire with the Lionshead and Riverside Fires have burned some 500,000 acres.

This spring and early summer I undertook a series of trips into the Molalla River Basin, mostly in search of Oregon Oak https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2020-05-28&place_id=any&user_id=carexobnupta&verifiable=any, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2020-06-11&place_id=any&user_id=carexobnupta&verifiable=any, and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?on=2020-06-24&place_id=536&user_id=carexobnupta&verifiable=any. The current Northwest Large Fire Interactive Web Map is tracking the extent of the Riverside Fire. The extent of burning is clear with the Satellite (MODIS) Thermal Hotspots displayed. The Riverside Fire appears to have burned the locations of the earlier visits.

The first visit was into the Table Rock Wilderness. This location is reported to have been subject to a sever destructive fire in the 1880's https://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/files/brochures/TableRockBrochureWeb.pdf. The access to the Oregon Oak glades was from the Old Bridge Trailhead via the High Ridge Trail. This trail passed through an exceptional forest. As the BLM Table Rock Wilderness brochure implies, two forest ages are present a younger closed canopy forest and an older open canopy forest. The older forest is composed of large diameter Douglass-fir with huge canopies. The understory was highly diverse with both shrubs and forbs. Along the upper reach of the High Ridge Trail there was a second unique landscape, an open conifer canopy with Erythronium oregonum.

The ecological impact of this fire is and will be significant. To understand the nature of the impacts it is helpful to review the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Traveling through the Columbia River Gorge since 2017 has been interesting to see the forest recovery. The 2017 Eagle Creek Fire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Creek_Fire left a mosaic of fire impacts from crown killing fire to unburned. The US Forest Service has mapped the impact with a Soil Burn Severity map https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd600997.pdf. From Larch Mountain and the Larch Mountain Trail the fire burn area can be seen in a distinctive way from above along the perimeter. Access to the Table Rock Wilderness is now only possible next year. It will provide a better understanding of the impacts of this 140 year fire event.

While writing this note, Clackamas County just updated the Level 2 Evacuation Zone to 4 miles away and The Oregon Military Department Office of Emergency Management dashboard https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/6329d5e4e13748b9b9f7f33f06a3c376/ reports the Riverside Fire approaching Estacada and numerous fires in the Willamette Valley foothills. Although the wind has subsided down to 2 to 4 MPH the temperature is still high in the 80's. This remains a very threatening situation.

Posted on September 10, 2020 23:06 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 3 comments | Leave a comment

May 01, 2019

A Note on Primula (Dodecatheon) in the National Scenic Area Colombia River Gorge

The wild flowers known as Shootingstars or Bird-bills are commonly observed in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. This note is provided to help identify this attractive spring flower. Two internet resources are available to assist with identification http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/results.php?Terms=Dodecatheon&x=7&y=11&Type=Names and http://www.oregonflora.org/gallery.php#. The Flora of the Pacific Northwest second edition 2018 is the latest technical identification key and should be consulted for morphological details.

The taxa in the Genus Dodecatheon (iNaturalist Primula) requires examination of small flower structures to key to the specific name. This group of flowers also has high species diversity. These natural features combine to create a difficult genus to identify to species. In the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area there are seven reported species, http://www.oregonflora.org/atlas.php#. These taxa are distributed to specific regions of the area and by elevation.

In Oregon and Washington, the taxonomic name Dodecatheon is still in use. However, in iNaturalist the name Primula is used. The use of the regional name is being kept, to be consistent with the records in the state floras. Observations in iNaturalist will require a translation to Primula and to the alternative name.

Dodecatheon alpinum
is not likely to be found in the gorge as it is a higher elevation species. This is a synonym for Primula tetrandra in Jepson http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=98394.

Dodecatheon conjugens
is known from a wide area east of Hood River. In the gorge this species is known from Oregon White Oak woodlands. Observation https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23861530 provides a close view of the filaments which are free to the base. The leaf is fleshy, ovate with an entire edge.

Dodecatheon cusickii
is known by two names, in Oregon as D. cusickii and Washington as D. pulchellum var. cusickii. D. cusickii is known from east of Hood River. The leaves and stems are densely puberulent or glandular.

Dodecatheon dentatum
is known from west of Hood River. It is easily identified by its white color. In iNaturalist this is known as Primula latiloba. One observation is known https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/9606283 at Multnomah Falls.

Dodecatheon jeffreyi
is known from the Cascade Mountains is not likely to be found in the gorge.

Dodecatheon poeticum
is known from the gorge east of the Cascade crest and expected. This species has fused filaments, oblanceolate leaves, undulate or crenate or irregular margins, and attenuate base. The leaves and stems are densely puberulent or glandular.

Dodecatheon pulchellum
is known from the west gorge to The Dallas. The D.p. var. cusickii is expected east of Hood River. The leaf of D. pulchellum is oblanceolate with an attenuate base. This species has fused filaments. This taxa is noted as a synonym of Primula pauciflora http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=98396 and by iNaturalist.

The distribution of Dodecatheon in the gorge is helpful as it allows for a reduced expected species list. However, identification requires observation of the filaments and leaves to properly name the specific taxa. For those wishing to look at the larger taxonomy of the Dodecatheon, the Flora of North America provides a overview http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=110733.

The androecium, the collective of anthers and stamen, is an important identification feature. However the taxonomic descriptions are difficult to understand and exist for a brief time. The androecium structure is of two types. In the first type the androecium is fuse at the base forming a ring around the style and stigma. This feature may be understood clearly by the Dodecatheon poeticum image by G. D. Carr at http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/ofp/images2/dod_poe_6697b.jpg. Here the base remains intact as the anthers diverge. In the second type the androecium is free to the base.

Posted on May 01, 2019 05:11 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 06, 2019

New taxa split from Lomatium grayi

The species in the genus Lomatium are notoriously difficult to identify. The shear number of species is the first obstruction to knowing this group. The morphological features needed to identify the in-hand specimen are multiple and both subtle and obscure.

New research into the Lomatium grayi has resulted in the publication of a revision.

Jason Andrew Alexander, Wayne Whaley, and Natalie Blain, J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas, volume 12, number 2, 20 Nov 2018 https://www.brit.org/sites/default/files/public/brit_press/JBRIT12-2/JBRIT2018-12-2-387.pdf. This revision has implications for L. grayi iNaturalist observation in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The majority of the observations in this region should be transferred to L. papilioniferum. However, in the area of the Columbia River Gorge and Klickitat County there is a mixture of L. papilioniferum and L. klickitatense. These two new taxa are recognized by the Oregon Flora Project and the Burke Herbarium. At this time these two new taxa are not recognized by iNaturalist. Once the new taxa are recognized the taxa change can not occur by a taxon swap as the two species are locally intermixed.

These observations require a review in order to place them in the correct taxa.

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21865335#activity_comment_2726764
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21985361#activity_comment_2725472
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/13224101
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12345023
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10198591
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/6178534

Posted on April 06, 2019 21:33 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 09, 2019

Quercus garryana at opposite ends of the range

It is interesting to observe the progression of spring and the response of one species. Observation https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20892024 demonstrates the onset of spring in the Santa Rosa area of Northern California. Where https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21066649 demonstrates winter in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Spring leaf break is still two months away. I will be interesting to see if more observations document the progression northward.

Posted on March 09, 2019 07:24 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 28, 2017

Resources for the Quercus garryana Range

General mapping of the Q. garryana range is published in two documents, Little 1971 and Burns & Honkala 1990. Species specific digital ranges (ArcMap Shapefiles) are available for the Little Atlas. The Agriculture Handbook 654 is available in PDF format.

The Agriculture Handbook 654 maps oak to the eastern edge of Klickitat County, Washington but does not include the East Cascade oak forest in south Wasco County. The Little Atlas does include the Wasco County distributions but not the Klickitat County distribution.

Russell M. Burns and Barbara H. Honkala, Technical Coordinators, Timber Management Research;
Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, Agriculture Handbook 654, Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC;
December 1990;
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-60058.
https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/quercus/garryana.htm

Little, E.L., Jr., 1971, Atlas of United States trees, volume 1, conifers and important hardwoods: U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication 1146.
http://gec.cr.usgs.gov/data/little/

Buechling A, Alverson ER, Kertis J, Fitzpatrick G, Classification of Oak Vegetation in the Willamette Valley, Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, 03/2008,
https://inr.oregonstate.edu/biblio/classification-oak-vegetation-willamette-valley

Posted on June 28, 2017 06:48 by carexobnupta carexobnupta | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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