Ochoco "scablands" in/around Big Summit Prairie
What is a Scabland?
Scablands are unforested openings with shallow, rocky soil and sparse vegetation. They are often windswept in winter, saturated in spring, and very hot and dry in the summer. These harsh conditions create a special and fragile habitat for native plants that are adapted to such an environment. Scablands support unique plant communities and endemic species that make them very engaging to the botanist, naturalist, and citizen scientist alike.
The scablands in the Ochoco Mountains east of Prineville are unique and highly sensitive areas that NPSO members (and their friends) can really make a difference in helping to protect. Scablands have multiple threats including invasive annual grasses (such as annual bromes, Ventenata and medusahead), unauthorized motorized travel, soil erosion, livestock impacts and previously developed roads and mineral pits that can facilitate invasive plants.
What do we do?
High Desert Chapter members are adopting scablands in the Ochoco National Forest under the direction of Jill Welborn, a US Forest Service botanist for Paulina District.
Volunteers can do a variety of activities depending on their skills, interests and commitment level. At a minimum volunteers need to walk a scab (or two) a couple times a year and complete a monitoring checklist, noting things like unauthorized vehicle use and invasive species.
Chapter volunteers also collect data on rare species such as Henderson’s needlegrass and Wallowa needlegrass, using a formal data collection protocol, mapping and/or monitoring the expansion of annual grasses, developing a floristic inventory or plant list of the adopted scab(s), and other activities as they come up.