Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Restoration of Endangered Northwest BC Grasslands

Project Reference Number: 2015-21

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Sybille Haeussler, PhD RPF, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers

Funder: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations & TD Friends of Environment Foundation.

Toodienia/Hubert Hill is an 11.5 ha. tract of conservation land located 5 km southeast of Telkwa, BC, with an outstanding occurrence of the red-listed Rocky Mountain Juniper – Saskatoon – Slender wheatgrass savanna-steppe ecological community (SBSdk/81). Prior to acquisition by the Province of BC in 1998, the hilltop was razed for a rural homesite, supplanting the native savanna-steppe with an excavation dominated by invasive plant species.  Ecological restoration and invasive species control has been intermittent.  In 2013, an updated plan for ecosystem restoration and invasive species control was prepared. This report summarizes activities in 2015 to implement the plan by establishing Rocky Mountain juniper, wild cherries and native herbs on the hilltop within an area currently dominated by Canada thistle and threatened by black cottonwood and trembling aspen encroachment.

Fifteen new juniper seedlings were transplanted in April, 2015.  These, and surviving transplants from 2014, were shaded, mulched, watered, weeded and caged. Survival of the 2015 transplants was 100% despite abnormally dry weather.  Propagation of wild cherry continued to be unsuccessful as the second batch of ~100 cuttings produced only 3 rooted choke cherry plants.  We collected, stratified and sowed seeds from the abundant 2015 choke cherry crop, but pin cherry produced no fruit in 2015. Seeds of 10 native herbs were collected and stratified.  A selection of unstratified seeds was sown in a small test area.

Canada thistle patches were mapped. Canada thistle in the hilltop area designated for active restoration plantings was hand-weeded throughout the summer. All black cottonwood trees that invaded the hilltop following 1990s machine clearing were felled to prevent further tree encroachment on the savanna-steppe and the slash was piled for burning.  The large plastic tarp stored at the hilltop since 1999 was removed from the site.  A permanent photo-tiepoint was established to record restoration progress.

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
December 2015 Ecosystem Restoration and Invasive Species Control at Toodienia/Hubert Hill 2015 Report Sybille Haeussler, PhD RPF, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers