Rare Care Wraps up a Productive Year and Preps for 2014

January 10th, 2014 by Wendy Gibble
Rare plants

Washington’s rare plants monitored by Rare Care volunteers.

2013 was another busy year for Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation (Rare Care). Our corps of volunteer citizen scientists contributed their expertise and time to monitor over 150 rare plant populations across Washington State. Some of these sites were visited during our annual monitoring weekend, which took place at Hanford Reach National Monument last year. We also added 20 collections to the Miller Seed Vault, including eight new species to the collection. You can read all about our 2013 monitoring and seed collecting efforts in our annual reports.

Rare Care will be offering a volunteer trainings on March 1, 2014 for our rare plant monitoring project. This citizen science project provides critically needed information on the status of Washington’s rare plants. Volunteers visit rare plant populations throughout the state and provide information on population sizes, habitat characteristics, and potential threats to the populations. Because many of these populations are visited once every decade or less, the data contributed by volunteer monitors are critical for long-term conservation of Washington’s rare plants.

Would you like to become a part of this valuable effort and have an opportunity to become familiar with some of the rare plants of Washington State? Volunteering with Rare Care provides an opportunity for you to explore Washington’s native flora, visit premier examples of Washington’s native ecosystems, and continue to build your plant identification skills. To participate in the program, volunteer rare plant monitors need to have some experience identifying native plants in the field, have a commitment to native plant conservation and good observation skills, be able to commit a few days during the spring and summer, and be able to provide their own transportation. Visit our volunteer page to learn more!

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New Issue of the Rare Plant Press

May 17th, 2012 by Heidi Unruh, UWBG Communications Volunteer

The latest issue of the Rare Plant Press is out.  Learn about the rare Astragalus plant, projects to conduct a population  estimate of the largest Sidalcea oregana var. calva and mapping Sisyrinchium sarmentosum populations, and more! The Rare Plant Press is a publication of Rare Care, a program dedicated to conserving Washington’s native rare plants.

Astragalus sinuatus photo

Astragalus flower close-up photo by Julie Combs


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One weekend, two dozen rare plant surveys

November 3rd, 2011 by Jennifer Youngman, Communications Specialist

by Wendy Gibble [edited for the web; see complete article on page 3 of the Rare Plant Press]

Twenty-five volunteers, agency partners and Rare Care staff gathered in Klickitat County in mid-June to monitor known populations of rare plants in the Klickitat Wildlife Area, Conboy National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas. We knew from the outset that our survey plans had to be adjusted. Late wet spring conditions caused as much as a one-month delay in the onset of flowering for many species. We were too early to catch the long-bearded sego lily (Calochortus longebarbatus var. longebarbatus) in bloom. But we caught the tail end of Baker’s linanthus (Leptosiphon bolanderi), a tiny spring annual that normally blooms in April and May. Our timing was perfect for finding Pulsifer’s monkey-flower (Mimulus pulsiferae), another tiny annual found in seasonally moist areas that seemed to have benefited from the spring moisture.  

Barrett's beardtongue, photo by Janka Hobbs

Barrett's beardtongue closeup, photo by Betty Swift

Klickitat County was an ideal location for Rare Care’s fifth annual monitoring weekend. It’s at the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, a region that hosts some of the state’s most diverse flora. The Gorge is one of the few places in the northwest where moist Pacific air meets dry Columbia Basin air near sea level, providing a corridor for migration and a refuge for relict populations from previous glacial and interglacial periods. The Columbia River system also provides a significant corridor for species movement from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountain ecoregion of British Columbia, through the Okanogan highlands, Columbia Basin shrub-steppe, and east Cascades, and out to the wetter ecoregion of the west Cascades. The convergence of these topographic features is likely a major factor in the high number of endemic species found in the vicinity.

Keying rare plants on a steep slope, photo by Julie Bresnan

Gooseberry-leaved alumroot, photo by Julie Bresnan

Twenty-four surveys were completed over the three-day campout, including new populations of rare plants such as oblong bluecurls (Trichostema oblongum), western ladies-tresses (Spiranthes porrifolia) and common bluecup (Githopsis specularioides). Regional endemics such as Barrett’s penstemon (Penstemon barrettiae), gooseberry-leaved alumroot (Heuchera grossulariifolia var. tenuifolia), and Suksdorf’s lomatium (Lomatium suksdorfii) are locally common on the cliffs and steep slopes of the Klickitat River. We monitored several populations of each and documented several new sites while surveying for other rare plant populations. We also monitored blue-flowered diffuse stickseed (Hackelia diffusa var. diffusa) and the very rare Ames’ milk-vetch (Astragalus pulsiferae var. suksdorfii), found in Washington only from an area around Conboy National Wildlife Refuge.

Diffuse stickseed, photo by Julie Bresnan

Identifying rare plants in a cool June, photo by Bev Linde

Although we accomplished so much in the short three days we had, we wrapped up the monitoring weekend with the impression that there is still much ground to cover in the region. We look forward to more explorations in the basalt canyons and pine woodlands in the coming years.

Images from top left:

  • Barrett’s penstemon, photo by Janka Hobbs
  • Barrett’s penstemon, photo by Betty Swift
  • Keying gooseberry-leaved alumroot on a steep slope, photo by Julie Bresnan
  • Gooseberry-leaved alumroot, photo by Julie Bresnan
  • Diffuse stickseed, photo by Julie Bresnan
  • Monitoring rare plants in a cool June, photo by Bev Linde

You may view additional photos on Rare Care’s page on Facebook.

 

 

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