William Cusick Chapter Meeting Notes
The meeting was held at 7:00 p.m. in the library of the Forestry
and Range Sciences Laboratory in LaGrande.
Ten people, including a guest speaker, were in attendance.
Chapter meetings will be dormant for the next 3 months and will
resume once again in February, 2010 in Baker City (place yet to be
According to David, many wind farms are built in areas subjected
to intensive historical land use such as farming or grazing. The
primary focus of restoration once wind farms are established tends
to revolve around erosion control, due to the Clean Water Act. The
Endangered Species Act also comes into play, but usually to a very
limited degree. Wildlife management agencies have only recently
become more influential in restoration decision-making regarding
areas where impacts to wildlife are considered potentially
Using native vegetation for erosion control and wildlife
mitigation projects is becoming more popular. Hydroseeding and
drill seeding are the primary means used for vegetation
reestablishment. Drill seeding is proving to be most effective for
Where wildlife (particularly game animals) is more of a concern,
supplemental seedlings are often planted in large numbers to
create corridors and cover zones. To increase seedling survival
three by three mulch mats and long woven plastic strip mats are
used to help retain soil moisture, control weeds, and reduce
The meeting was held at 7:00 p.m. in the EOU Botany Lab at
Badgley Hall in La Grande.
Five people, including one new member, attended the meeting.
Due to personal circumstances, Leslie Gecy resigned from her
position as the Chapter’s Secretary and a new Secretary, Laurie
Allen, was nominated and voted in to take her place.
Speaker for the October meeting will be Dave Bradney, of
WildLands, Inc., who will discuss vegetative mitigation of the
Elkhorn Valley Wind Power Project near North Powder. Dave would
prefer to present his talk in La Grande but, since the October
meeting is scheduled for Baker City, all will be notified to see
if that is acceptable or not.
Susan Geer has ordered and received the Camassia cusickii bulbs
to plant at the Union Cemetery in October of this year in honor of
the Chapter’s namesake, William Cusick, who is buried there. The
current planting dates are tentatively looking like October 9 and
or 10th, the same week as Cusick’s departure from earthly form, on
October 7, 1922. The La Grande Observer will be contacted to see
if we can get some press coverage for our floriferous (at least
eventually, we hope), celebratory honoring of Mr. Cusick.
Karen Antell led an informal grass identification group
discussion and keying session. Leslie and Kent brought in some
“mystery” grasses to test out Mary Barkworth’s new Manual of
Grasses for North America keys.
Karen began the group discussion with a wonderful analogy that
grasses (and sedges) are like the ‘peeps’ of the bird world,
lacking in variability, forcing us to rely on technical details.
Once all were deeply engaged in the keying process, however, it
seemed that technical details in the Barkworth keys were a bit
lacking or confusing at times (not unusual when encountering new
keys for the first time). It was finally concluded that the
Barkworth book has some issues to be worked out. Karen later
emphasized that for grasses, good recognition skills in the field
go hand-in-hand with successful keying efforts.
Prior to the group keying Karen informed all of a 1985 paper by Mary Barkworth and Douglas Dewey, published in the American Journal of Botany, entitled “Genomically Based Genera in the Perennial Triticeae of North America: Identification and Membership”. The paper helps explain why the new Triticeae grass keys have essentially “demorphed” and are instead based on genomic (chromosomal) characteristics. It also includes tables cross- referencing the changes from the old to the new and a morphological key for the new genomically based genera. The paper can be found in the American Journal of Botany, 1985, 72(5): 767-776, or a PDF copy is available upon request from Karen Antell, kantell "at" eou.edu, or Laurie Allen, allenla "at" eou.edu.
7 pm at Botany Lab, EOU, La Grande OR
Ten people attended the meeting, including Karen Antell, the
speaker, who presented a program on restoration at End Creek.
Prior to Karen's talk, we discussed:
Possible field trip for the summer:
• Karen Antell/ End Creek/ June
• Susan Geer/ HCNRA/ May
• Jenifer Ferriel/ Limber Pine up Hurricane Creek/ July or August
• I forgot to mention that Cindy Kranich expressed interest in
leading a field trip to Bald Mountain -- that would probably be
Gangloff Park update -- what is going on there as far as the
native plant restoration work goes. Kent said that Bob Ottersburg
was the lead and to Kent's knowledge no work has been done since
Bob died. The native plants are doing well and signs that were
posted are still in place. Kent said that Bob had more signs, but
he wasn't sure what happened to them. There is some goat grass and
medusahead near the parking area which needs attention. Gangloff
park could be another field trip/ work party some evening this
spring or summer.
We should discuss field trips more at the upcoming meeting.
Jenifer brought up the Cusick gravesite and planting native
plants named for Cusick. It was agreed that it is a great idea
that we want to pursue, but it is also quite difficult to be
organized enough to locate such plants and then be able to get
back at the proper time for seed collection. And then there is
growing the plants from seed. All of this takes time and
initiative that we haven't yet been able to muster. Susan Geer
knew of a catalog that sells Camas cusickii bulbs. Everyone at the
meeting seemed to think that purchasing bulbs to plant would work
for the gravesite.
End Creek Restoration Program:
Karen's End Creek program included a nice powerpoint presentation
showing maps, aerial and ground views.
Background: End Creek is at the north end of the Grande Ronde
valley. In the site’s previous life, it was part of a dairy farm.
The restoration area is 550 acres and includes End Creek, which
flows off Mt Emily onto the property, and South Fork Willow Creek,
which is ditched and flows through other properties prior to
entering the reserve.
The property was a dairy farm until the 1950's and then plowed and was in creeping red fescue until 2 years ago, when restoration began. Joel Rice remains the owner, but the area has been put into a wetland reserve coordinated by Grande Rhonde Model Watershed (GRMW).
Details on the restoration including a list of the partners can
be found at the GRMW website at:
Natural regeneration of native bent grass (Agrostis exarata) has
been amazing. Other natives such as tufted hairgrass are also
Plant highlights include natives such as toad rush, graveola,
willowherb and the rare plant Douglas clover which was grown from
seed collected at Ladd Marsh and planted at End Creek.
Amphibians include Columbia spotted frogs, chorus frogs, long
toed salamanders, and unfortunately bull frogs.
For full species lists of plants and animals, visit Blue
Mountains Conservancy website:
The October meeting was in Baker at the Crossroads Art Center
(aka Carnegie Library). This was a different venue from our usual
meeting at the Baker County Library, as the meeting space was
occupied by Halloween activities. There were 12 attendees,
including members from Baker, LaGrande, and John Day. John
Stephenson, US Fish and Wildlife Coordinator for the Eastern
Oregon "Partners" program was the speaker. Following the
presentation, the 2009 programs were discussed. Chris also
requested that we have introductions at the beginning of meetings
so that we all get to meet each other if we haven’t already and so
that the speaker gets to meet the audience.
PRESENTATION: The FWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife is a
voluntary conservation program working on private land with
federal funding to restore native habitats. Most of the projects
to-date have dealt with stream restoration and fish passage, but
the program also works on restoring wetlands, sagebrush steppe and
rare plant habitat. The program tries to find common round with
landowners, which can often be hard on sagebrush steppe.
Restoration of eroding streambanks tends to get to a win-win
agreement much more quickly. Funding requires cost sharing with
other agencies and Watershed Councils and Soil and Water
Conservation Districts tend to cost-share and participate i n
Some examples of recent projects are:
Off-Stream livestock Watering Tanks: to reduce riparian
Rare Plant Research: More about this program later (see April meeting).
About 8 people attended the native plant society meeting in
LaGrande on Thursday, September, 25th.
Cindy Kranich gave a great slide presentation on her botany
forays at Baldy proposed RNA. Cindy spent her summer compiling a
plant list and collecting voucher specimens at Baldy. Baldy is an
open mountain top at around 7000 feet. It has some very large old
western white pine, Cymopterus nivalis (a rare umbel), alpine
cushion plants, a variety of habitats including rock outcrops,
seeps and springs, and white pine forest. Cindy had some awesome
We briefly discussed the idea of having a meeting in John Day
sometime in the near future and I think the general consensus was
that we need to have a NPSO field trip to Baldy.
We discussed future speakers and came up with some ideas:
• More presentations on restoration work.
• Have Gene Yates talk about Mirabilis mcfarlanei
• Have Chris Christy give a talk about butterflies in NE Oregon.
• Native pollinators
• Ferns of the Wallowas
• Have Karen Antell talk about End Creek
• Vegetation history of La Grande Valley and/or Baker Valley
If you are interested in giving a talk or know someone who is,
please email Jenifer Ferriel or Leslie Gecy. If your name is
listed above and you really are interested in giving a
presentation, Leslie or Jenifer know when you would like to give
Our next meeting will be October 23 in Baker City – tentatively
at the library. I will not be able to attend and am hoping someone
else will be able to be the “MC”.
The March 20 meeting was at the La Grande Forestry Sciences Lab. There were 17 attendees. Donna Patterson made a presentation on William Cusick, the pioneering botanist after which our chapter was named. Following the presentation, field trips, communication and other chapter business were discussed.
PRESENTATION: William Cusick was a pioneer that traveled to
Oregon in 1853 and become one of the first settlers in the Powder
River Valley. His homestead is thought to be located under the
current day Thief Valley Reservoir. He was one of the first
botanists to collect plants in eastern Oregon and there are 4,500
specimens that he collected in the University of Oregon herbarium
alone. Twenty-seven Oregon plants are named after him. He is
buried in the Union Victorian Cemetery. Additional details about
him can be found in the NPSO journal, Kalmiopsis 2007. Volume 14:
The Union Victorian Cemetery allows native vegetation and planted
flowers on graves, but there are no native plants honoring William
Cusick at his grave site. The group discussed appropriate plants
that could be planted.
Following the presentation, Donna sent this message to the chapter:
“To the members of the William Cusick Society:
Thank you for allowing me to share what I know of William Cusick with you. I am very excited about the prospect of you doing something with the Willliam Cucsick grave AND plants along the walking path. This could take several years to accomplish. I also have a good contact with our new young reporter who would love doing a feature story on this – that may just bring new members to your group.
I also thought of another project that you might be interested in
and that is some information preserved and presented in the Union
County Museum. Some samples of plants named after him?, etc. Just
an idea. Sharon Hohstadt is the current president. Blanche Kohler
is pretty much in charge of displays.
And Carolyn Davis Young quite possibly could tell you more about
the intermarriages of the Busicks and the Cusicks. Carolyn’s
mother was a real historian and saved a lot of information that is
now used in the museum. She passed her love of history down to
FIELD TRIPS This the revised field trip schedule. For additional details, check the chapter website http://williamcusick.npsoregon.org, or watch for announcements on the listserve.
Owlsley Hogback. May 18 (tentative, depending on plant phenology
and smowmelt) 12:00-4:00. This is a gentle hike along a dry, rocky
ridge with the potential to also explore Fox Prairie. Lots of
Lomatium and Penstemons among the many plants to see. Led by Susan
Geer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional
information, or leave a message at 963-0477.
Strickler RNA. May 31, the weekend after Memorial Day. The RNA is
located just north of Starkey Experimental Forest near LaGrande It
is an old growth ponderosa pine-larch habitat, with some trespass
grazing issues. Led by Jenifer Ferriel.
June: No current field trips planned.
Lookout Mountain July 12-13, Apologies from Clair Button, but he
has to cancel this field trip due to family-needs commitments. The
up-side is he gets to visit his mother again.
Cypripedium fasciculatum in the Wallowas led by Gene Yates. This
trip will also look at Botrychium and Ophioglossum. Details to be
Cougar Meadows RNA. August 16. Cougar Meadow is located near
Anthony Lakes and was recently dedicated to the memory of Charlie
Johnson. It has a large sedge and tufted hairgrass component, and
contains one or more species of moonworts/grapeferns. There is a
small aspen stand that is not regenerating, with young conifers
establishing in the understory. The lack of aspen regeneration may
be related to wild ungulate grazing, but the cause is unknown.
Led by Jenifer Ferriel to look at the aspen regeneration issue
and also try out the new sedge key.
Jenifer Ferriel will have the mailing lists and other chapter
mailings sent to her instead of Sandy Roth.
Cathy Nowak, ODFW, requested money last year for interpretative
signs at Ladd Marsh. The sign project was delayed but she
anticipates completing later this year. The chapter agreed to
provide the $250 it had allocated for plant signs. Cathy will come
back to solicit ideas for specific information to go on the signs.
A sedge workshop would cost approx $200 each attendee which the
group thought cost-prohibitive for the chapter to sponsor.
The next meeting, and the last meeting before the summer, will be in Baker on April 24 (Baker County library 2400 Resort Street). Suzanne Fouty will make a presentation on “Restoring water to watersheds and complexity and stability of riparian ecosystems”. This presentation focuses on beavers and riparian habitats in the Burnt River watershed. Following Dr. Fouty’s presentation, the chapter will discuss how to incorporate more detailed vegetation sampling into the ongoing Burnt River monitoring.
The February 28 meeting was at the Baker County Library. There
were 10 attendees, including members from Baker, LaGrande, and
John Day. Jenifer Ferriel, RNA Coordinator for the Blue Mountain
Ecoregion made a presentation on the area Research Natural Areas
(RNAs). RNAs are part of a national network of areas dedicated in
perpetuity for education, research, and biodiversity (including
genetic diversity) on USFS land. The BLM also maintains similar
areas that are referred to as ACECs (Areas of Critical
Environmental Concern). Following the presentation, field trips,
communication and other chapter business were discussed. There
were some changes to or need for additional discussion on field
trips after the meeting. These changes are incorporated.
PRESENTATION: The Blue Mountain ecoregion includes the
Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur National Forests. Within
this area, there are 40 RNAs, of which 10 are established RNAs and
30 are proposed RNAs. These areas are available for research and
education, but are not often used. Jenifer suggested that our
chapter could get involved in helping monitor or conduct other
research on one or more of these areas. Other activities could
include stewardship or developing establishment plans for the RNAs
that are proposed but not yet established.
Jenifer presented details about 4 RNAs in the chapter area. The
reason that these 4 RNAs were highlighted was that these were
sites that we were looking at visiting during the summer field
Vinegar Hill, located in the Greenhorn Mountains on the southern edge of the Umatilla NF. It has extensive stands of subalpine sagebrush and other subalpine species and is underlain by serpentine. Here is a photo of Eriogonum flavum at Vinegar Hill provided by Cynthia Kranich.
Cougar Meadow, located near Anthony Lakes and recently dedicated
to the memory of Charlie Johnson. It has a large sedge and tufted
hairgrass component, and contains one or more species of
moonworts/grapeferns. There is a small aspen stand that is not
regenerating, with young conifers establishing in the understory.
The lack of aspen regeneration may be related to wild ungulate
grazing, but the cause is unknown.
Duck Lake, located on the southeast side of the Wallowas. It is
comprised of vernal lakes and bogs, with floating sedge mats and
the always fascinating sundew (Drosera anglica).
Strickler, located just north of Starkey Experimental Forest near
LaGrande It is an old growth ponderosa pine-larch habitat, with
some trespass grazing issues.
Lots of excellent discussion on why these areas are not used
more, what kind of monitoring has been done/needs to be done, and
suggestions about how to address Cougar Meadow aspen regeneration.
FIELD TRIPS The following field trips are planned. Additional
details are posted on the Field Trips page of this site and will
be confirmed in the March meeting.
May: There are two field trips planned, with the specific dates
to be determined by plant phenology and snowmelt. The two trips
Wildflower walk sponsored by Hells Canyon Preservation Council
and led by Susan Geer and in association with the Hells Canyon
Preservation Council. May 18 from 12-4 pm, probably on Owlsley
Strickler RNA led by Jenifer Ferriel (see description above from
June: No current field trips planned, but Leslie to check on the
potential to look at the southernmost population of Trifolium
douglasii on private land. It is also a good time to look at the
End Creek restoration project. Karen suggested trying to either
arrange informal trips or look at the project with her regularly
July: There are two field trips planned for early July, with the
exact dates to be determined. However the Lookout Mountain trip
may need to be rescheduled due to conflicts with teh State NPSO
Lookout Mountain led by Clair Button to look at Botrychium
simplex and other flora, and potentially repair the Botrychium
Cypripedium fasciculatum in the Wallowas led by Gene Yates. This
trip will also look at
Botrychium and Ophioglossum.
August: Cougar Meadows RNA led by Jenifer Ferriel to look at the
aspen regeneration issue and also try out the new sedge key.
Other field trips or activities discussed but either not yet
confirmed or tabled for next years’ trips:
Field trip to the TNC Dunstan Preserve on the Middle Fork John
Day and review the recent restoration activities.
Field trip to Vineagar Hill RNA.
Management activities on the Gangloff Preserve.
COMMUNICATION There are still a couple of glitches in the chapter communications that we are working on. In general, meeting notices will be sent through the chapter list serve Cusick-List@lists.eou.edu. Other discussion will occur through the google group (post at Cusick-ONPS@googlegroups.com). All information will be posted on the chapter website, so be sure to check there http://williamcusick.npsoregon.org. Meeting and field trip information will be published in the NPSO Bulletin as well.
The William Cusick chapter met on 11/29 in LaGrande. There were 16 members attending, including folks from Baker, LaGrande and John Day. Karen Antell started with a presentation about Trifolium douglasii that at least in Oregon has a distribution centered about Union County. It is not listed either federally or by Oregon, but it is known from only a few populations (6-20). Karen noted that the species is very distinctive in flower, but the flowering period is quite short perhaps hindering positive survey results outside of the flowering period and that there may be more populations on private land. Karen also talked about the End Creek restoration and the potential to reintroduce Douglas clover there.
The rest of the meeting centered around chapter organization
issues such as frequency of meeting, where and when, communication
and election of officers. After much discussion, the following
decisions were made:
ADVANCE MEETING SCHEDULE
We will have regular meetings in Sept, Oct, Feb, March, and
April. Meetings will on the 4th Thursday of the month, except as
modified in the yearly schedule to avoid holidays or vacation
periods. Meetings would begin at 7:00 pm and alternate between
Baker and LaGrande. We plan to meet at the respective county
libraries (tentative right now until we can confirm availability).
The meeting schedule for the next year is:
February 28, 2008: Baker City
: Jenifer Ferriel to talk about RNA's; agenda also to include
field trip and sedge workshop planning
March 20, 2008: LaGrande (NOTE changed to 3rd Thur to avoid
spring break conflict)
Speaker currently open
April 24, 2008 : Baker City
: Speaker currently open
September 25: 2008
: LaGrande Speaker currently open
October 23, 2008:
Baker:Speaker currently open
There were lots of ideas about speakers and field trips. This is
a short list:
Field review of the End Creek restoration (Trifolium douglasii)
Maybe-get landowner permission to search for Douglas clover on
Clover Creek in Baker county downstream from the Union County site
Visit one or more of the Blue MT RNA's to help develop a species
list (both plant and birds)
Camp-out on Lookout Mt at a Botrychium site and help repair the
Take a tour and also help with species id at Zumwalt Prairie
After Jenifer's February talk on RNA's we will look at setting up
our field trip schedule for this next spring/summer. Both Jennifer
and Karen expressed an interest in moving the field trips beyond
just plant id to more functional or service type field trips. For
example, we would go out to look at a Blue Mt RNA and help develop
a species list, or go to Zumwalt Prairie for a tour and then help
on their species list or on a seasonal targeted search. There
seemed to be a strong group interest in that direction.
Communication will be consolidated into a single listserve for
notification/reminders about meetings or other pertinent
information. A group forum will also be set-up to allow more
in-depth discussion or photo posting. Karen Antell will set up the
list serve and develop a consolidated email list from the 11/29
list, the existing and somewhat varied email lists currently being
used and NPSO list of members. Clair Button will develop the group
forum. Karen and Clair will coordinate on the most current list to
use and contact members with the information necessary to sign up.
Clair will continue to maintain the web site.
Jenifer Ferriel and Sandy Roth will remain as the chapter
presidents. Kent Coe will remain as the chapter treasurer. Leslie
Gecy will serve as chapter secretary. Clair and Karen will head up
communications and maintain the group e-lists and list servers,
with help from Courtney Loomis when needed. Chris Christy will
take care of meeting room arrangements in Baker and Karen will
take care of meeting room arrangements in LaGrande.
There was some informal discussion after the meeting about having refreshments at meetings.
Leslie Gecy -- contact : lesliegecy at aol.com (replace "at" with symbol and remove spaces to email.)