What's the secret to pulling off a piece of the largest single monarch habitat restoration event in the entire western US?
On Saturday November 18, 2017 the final plant (plant #7013 or so) was placed ceremoniously in the wet ground at the Sampson Creek Preserve as part of the Southwest Oregon Pollinator Collaborative Project, the largest single monarch habitat restoration effort undertaken in the western United States! This incredible restoration planting effort covering 300 acres in several areas throughout Southern Oregon, funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is still underway. SOMA is working with a great team of folks including the BLM, USFWS, USFS, JSWCD, Lomakatsi, and the Selberg Institute who manages the Sampson Creek Preserve. Here's how the "SOMA-powered" Planting Blitz at the preserve unfolded...
We focused our efforts on 40 acres of riparian and beautiful oak savannah uplands at the Sampson Creek Preserve across the valley from Ashland.
First, you need to get your plants and seed going. I mean like a year ahead of time (7000+ native plants just at Sampson Creek site alone! Around 60,000 for the entire project). This is not something you just go buy at the CO-OP! So, find a couple of good nurseries for plants and seed.
And check this out-- we collected many of the milkweed and other nectar-bearing plant seeds from our site!
A few weeks ahead of time, get out there and select your planting areas and what plants you want at each spot.
Remember, milkweed is paramount to be sure. But our pollinators need other native nectar plants that bloom all season long as well. Collect the data and load it into the database.
You should see our location map! Then go help the nursery guy out (who is likely getting a little nervous about all those plants by now) and make your plant bundles. Oh and by the way, this should always be done seriously and in very bad weather to keep folks focused on the task at hand.
A dog is always helpful.
Pull in a few BLM seasonal interns before they take off for the season.
Its so easy! I mean, all you're doing is bundling up all 7000 plants in a few hundred nice little packages, all numbered and identified and loaded into your database!
Then, start the Planting Blitz! Grab some University students to help.
learn from them, and make 'em work!
Oh, probably should feed people once in awhile. Be careful though; if you serve up hot, delicious home-made soups and stews with chocolaty brownies and fluffy muffins, you really need to crack the whip to get everyone working again!
Did I mention a dog?
Have an evening meeting to see what your partners working at the other sites are doing (adult beverages really help in the sharing process).
To spice things up even more, factor in a prescribed burn on part of the site in the eleventh hour.
One last thing... never, NEVER loose site of why you are doing it.
"Thanks for helping me survive!"
Having the area be stunningly beautiful is a help (but I would not let your volunteers enjoy it that much).
Toss in a cool planting demonstration that involves spraying water everywhere, and make sure that the demonstration crew has to drive down from more than 100 miles away just to do it. Keep laughing to a minimum, and don't allow any questions or interaction with the demonstration crew.
Wrangle a few other volunteers from various walks of life (and don't tell them about rain, frost, wind, and MUD)
And, well... let the monarch magic happen. A remember; laughing, smiling, learning about one another during the long days is strongly discouraged (for productivity you know).