Marys Peak Meadow Restoration

A mountain with its peak in clouds, rises up from a valley.People value Marys Peak for the panoramic views and sweeping, wildflower-filled meadows. Due to a variety of factors, including past and present human activities on the peak, trees have begun to grow into the meadows. Not only do these trees impact the scenic view, but they’re also changing the ecology of the meadows, which are a rare and important ecosystem in the Oregon Coast Range.

In 2015, after research by scientists and several years of planning, including lots of public input, the Forest Service initiated a project that involved removing trees to restore the open meadows and scenic vistas. Following tree removal, most of which was completed in 2015, efforts will be focused on re-establishing meadows in the newly cleared areas, including treating the area to prevent the spread of invasive plants and planting native meadow species (grasses and wildflowers).

We are proud of the effort that will re-establish meadows in this unique and special place, improve visitors’ experience on the peak with expanded scenic vistas, and put people to work to accomplish our restoration objectives.

Learn more about the Marys Peak meadow restoration from this Oregon Public Broadcasting episode of Oregon Field Guide.

Questions and Answers

Aren’t the trees natural? Why did you cut them down?

Yellow, orange and white wildflowers on a hillside.The management decisions for Marys Peak were based on a number of factors, including what the peak looked like historically, what types of ecosystems are found in the Coast Range and which are priorities for restoration, and how people currently use Marys Peak for recreation.

Because research demonstrates that meadow ecosystems are in decline in the Coast Range, forest officials determined that restoring the meadows on Marys Peak to something closer to their historic range was the greatest need. While one ecosystem is not necessarily better than another is, in this case, the meadow ecosystem provides rare habitat and a visitor experience that is unique in western Oregon, one we’ve determined is important to restore.

What kind of impacts will there be from all this work?

The meadow restoration was designed to minimize impacts to the existing meadows and to visitors to the peak. The bulk of the work occurred at the driest time of the year in order to reduce soil compaction from heavy machinery, which during wet times of the year could negatively impact sensitive meadow vegetation. Cut trees were moved with special equipment called a front loader, which is designed to reduce ground pressure and further minimize soil compaction. In some areas, cut trees were moved using a ‘skyline’ system, which allows logs to be moved without the need for heavy equipment driving across the land.

While visitors to the peak may still see evidence of the work, other measures were used to reduce visible impacts and accelerate establishment of meadow species. Limbs and branches, known as slash, that are a by-product of timber harvesting were carefully burned in a self-contained unit on-site throughout the tree cutting operation, rather than left on the ground as is frequently seen in typical timber harvests. In 2016, the newly cleared ground was prepped and planted with native meadow species.

Photos below illustrate similar work that was done on a small piece of Bureau of Land Management land on Marys Peak several years ago. Just a few years after the trees were removed, wildflowers were flourishing. While results may vary, this project was designed to achieve similar results.

Photos: first is an evergreen-covered hillside, second with trees removed, and third with flowers.

How can I learn more about this project?

Marys Peak meadow restoration was part of a larger, landscape-scale environmental planning effort known as the Marys Landscape Management Project. To review the environmental assessment and other supporting documents, please visit: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=22336.

 

 

 



More Information

  • Ecosystem Restoration
    We're returning natural functions to altered landscapes, focusing on creating and maintaining healthy ecosystems: estuaries, old growth forests, meadows, coastal dunes.
  • Restoration Projects
    Find out more about individual projects on our Restoration Projects page


https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/siuslaw/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=stelprd3852355