Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, near Dallas, Oregon
On July 30th, Tom Kaye of the Institute for Applied Ecology field tested the Oak Habitat Metric on oak savanna habitat at the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. The goal was to use the metric to establish an ecological baseline for the project site, and calculate ecological improvement of conservation projects taking place.
The oak savannah habitat on the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge supports the largest surviving population of the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly which feeds upon the threatened Kincaid’s lupin. The presence of these species made this site of particular interest.
Using the metric for oak habitat, Tom Kaye visited the site and entered his observations into the metric calculator, which returned a final score of 71.45%.
What does this mean?
A score of 100% for oak habitat indicates that the site has a minimum of invasive species, such as encroachment by conifer trees, or other stessors, such as nearby development, paved roads or agricultural operations. In addition, a high score includes the location of the site relative to other natural areas–closer is better, optimum vegetation structure for that habitat type, good management practices and the presence of sensitive or rare species.
While the Baskett Slough site rated high on vegetative structure and rare or sensitive species, thanks to the presence of the Fender’s blue butterfly and Kincaid’s lupin, the metric identified some issues with invasive species and other risks and stressors.
Current management practices are helpful. From Tom Kaye’s report: “The Wildlife Refuge is actively and consistently managed for habitat conservation, especially to conserve Kincaid’s lupine and Fender’s blue butterfly. Open habitat is mowed regularly and kept free of invading blackberries. Some areas are burned occasionally to promote native prairie vegetation.”
How does the oak metric help?
As the Refuge continues active management of the site, metric users will be able to assess and monitor outcomes, thus presenting the most consistent and reliable data about progress taking place on the site.
Data gathered during the assessment will be added to the Ecosystem Crediting Platform created by the Willamette Partnership, which will translate restoration and conservation actions into ecosystem service credits using the Counting on the Environment standards. Users of this software platform can map their projects, create multiple project designs, and manage their projects through the required approval process.
Although we can’t track the Baskett Slough Oak Savanna project as it works through the Ecosystem Crediting Platform yet, we can view the project on the Conservation Registry. Check the Marketplace for Nature portal page for new projects as the metrics continue to be used in the field.