Methods and Projects

Check out our powerpoint presentation on some of our summer projects

 

Rim to Rim’s Preferred Basic Work Strategy
The Bradley Method of Bush Regeneration is the basis for Rim to Rim’s preferred restoration strategy. The Bradley Method is a natural regeneration technique pioneered by Joan and Eileen Bradley, two women in Sydney, Australia. Their work occurred in urban parks and park land near urban areas and relies on labor-intensive hand-weeding methods, followed by periods of waiting. The Bradley Method's goal is to shift the balance of the plant mosaic from favoring weeds to favoring native plants. In the large damaged areas around Moab this method has limitations. However, there are several strategies for helping it along which can make it quite viable. These include:

re-establishing native plants by transplanting plants, pole plantings, planting seedlings, and seeding. Bringing Back the Bush: the Bradley Method of Bush Regeneration is a highly recommended (and short) book providing a more detailed explanation of this strategy.

 

A Few Words About Weeds
Noxious weeds are those that are particularly tenacious and do not eventually stabilize within the native plant mosaic. Plants such as these have become so commonplace that many of us cannot recall living without them and accept them as "belonging."

 

The ability of noxious weeds to out-compete native species is hardly a "natural" occurrence, or an example of "nature doing its thing." Most of the noxious weed species have been introduced by people for ornamental plantings, erosion control, food, or by accident. Attempting to tackle this huge problem is an incredibly labor-intensive endeavor and a great deal of planning and research are required to find effective strategies.

 

Although it may appear impossible to do anything about weeds, the prospect of simply living with them is not benign. In the desert, the side canyons and springs are particularly important areas where it is possible to prevent the progress of weed species.

 

The Bradley Method (excerpted from Bringing Back the Bush)

The Bradley Method of Bush Regeneration uses the landscape's ability to heal itself to restore native vegetation to a site. The Bradley Method is most applicable when the primary problem is invasive exotic plants or weeds. This may be a part of the overall strategy for a larger revegetation project, or it may be the only strategy used. The Bradley Method is most effective when there are healthy plant communities adjacent to the project site. The Bradley Method is a way of prioritizing your weeding efforts, and can make the most overwhelming project possible. Remember, these weeds didn't move in overnight; it will take at least as long to remove them as it took them to colonize the site.

 

Bradley Method General Plan of Work

1. Prevent degradation of good areas
In "good" areas, weeds are generally scattered in healthy native plant communities. Remove these weeds. Whenever you visit the site, locate and remove any you missed.

Removing pampas grass--it's easy when the invasion is really small!

2. Improve the next best areas
Begin additional weeding in areas close to healthy native vegetation. Never clear weeds beyond approximately three yards from healthy native plants.

3. Hold the advantage gained
DO NOT OVERCLEAR. Weeds will generally continue to germinate and thrive if the area has no native plants. Follow-up weeding around all the native plants will be necessary at least twice a year. When a new wave of weeds germinate, take the time to visit the site and weed around each native plant again to help favor its growth.


4. Cautiously move into the really bad areas
Keep working along the edge being regenerated, making new clearings smaller as weeds become thicker. Always look for the odd native plant in a stand of weeds and concentrate your weeding effort around these plants.

5. Cautiously move into the worst areas
Do not clear a block of solid weeds until healthy natives border it. It is tempting and satisfying to clear huge areas – but the weeds will simply return if they have no competition from native plants. Many weeds thrive in disturbed soils – so don't forget to minimize damage to the soil.

Because the Bradley Method basic principles and workplan dictate working from areas of healthy plants to infested areas, initially this method can appear very slow. It is important to resist temptations to clear large areas of weed species. Although this has more immediate visual impact, it will make much more work later.

 

Furthermore, never weed a larger area than native growth can recolonize. In the worst areas, lots of follow-up weeding for seedlings is necessary to favor natives. An exception is when you are working in a large area completely infested with weeds. If you are helping this area along by planting, you may want to clear weeds first to make your initial work easier. In follow-up maintenance, however, return to the Bradley Method.

 

The "timber axe" in action. RRR uses this to remove heavy vegetation. Removing vegetation slowly at the pace that native plants can regenerate may be relative to the scale of the invading plant

 

Strategies to Help the Bradley Method Along:
How to re-establish native plants where there is little or no healthy vegetation nearby

A landowner is unlikely to commit to paying for a project over fifty years, and most people want to see results within five years. In general, the Bradley Method actually takes less time than it first appears, but there are strategies to speed up the process.

When areas have been severely damaged by four-wheel-drive vehicles, bicycles, foot traffic or grazing, it is sometimes necessary and acceptable to add seed, move plants in from adjacent areas, plant seedlings grown elsewhere, or plant pole plantings or other vegetative means for propagating plants on the site. On recently disturbed sites, adding plant materials and additional native seeds may help prevent the establishment of large stands of weeds.

 

• Transplanting native plants into an old roadbed:

 

Close up:

 

 

MONITORING VEGETATION RESPONSE

TO INVASIVE RENEWAL

In 2007 Rim to Rim, in partnership with Wildland Scapes, initiated monitoring efforts to gather information about which methods both effectively remove tamarisk(or other large scale woody invasive weed) biomass and regenerate healthy native vegetation. This monitoring process is intended to identify effective, inexpensive ways to measure the success of tamarisk biomass removal efforts and native plant re-establishment in sites previously dominated by tamarisk trees.

 

Currently there are few efforts to monitor native plant response to large woody invasive biomass removal. Initial sites for vegetation monitoring transects were set up at 14 removal sites within 50 miles of Moab. Wildland Scapes continues to offer financial, equipment and technical assistance to the project as needed in the future.

Data collected at each site includes: line intercept vegetation transect information, soil salinity, pH and moisture, adjacent area vegetation, land use history, tamarisk removal history, other invasives removal history, and species presence/absence on and around each tamarisk removal site.

 

Initial data analysis in late 2007 and 2008 provided quantified information and insight regarding questions related to tamarisk removal success, implications of tamarisk leaf beetle in removal technique decisions, revegetation success, and tamarisk mulch implications. In the fall and winter of 2009 summary data will be analyzed and available.

 

Our monitoring project is intended to be long term and iterative in nature. During and after each data collection season, we coordinate analysis efforts with interested local land managers. This ensures our data collection efforts focus on gathering information helpful for evaluating the success of local projects. Cooperative data analysis should help land managers and owners develop adaptive management responses to tamarisk defoliation at high use and high visibility sites. Ideally this information will provide useful insight for future projects in this and other areas.

Our literature search revealed that most monitoring of vegetation response to tamarisk and Russian olive removal not only compares vastly different biological regions, but is also of extremely short duration and does not include land use history and current land use information. Rim to Rim’s monitoring program targets project sites with multiple removal techniques in similar ecological areas, is intended to monitor vegetation changes over at least 5 years, and includes land use history and current land use information.

 

Rim to Rim’s private status gives us the ability to coordinate with a number of agencies and land managers to collect unbiased information that will not only help inform our land management decisions, but will also provide quantitative data that can be used to support other research efforts and projects.

 

While a great deal of change is occurring with tamarisk due to the establishment of the leaf beetle and land managers are responding rapidly to these changes with large scale removal efforts, we have noticed that few efforts have been made to determine what is happening on the ground. Rim to Rim is able to collect data quickly that documents the changes we are seeing in our region and to make these data available to others who are studying the impacts and successes of the leaf beetle and large scale biomass removal efforts.

 

Monitoring a vegetation transect. Here, monitoring began in 2007 and preliminary results are expected by the end of 2009.