Written by Green Team Program Coordinator, Meghan Ballard
Rex Putnam HS @ Boardman Wetlands on 12.3.2012
Over 30 Putnam students and 4 board members and staff from the Oak Lodge Sanitary District (who fund this project) joined us earlier this week to once again help out at Boardman Wetlands. On the schedule for the day – installing ‘magic sticks’. What in the world are magic sticks you ask? Well, several species of native plants have the incredible super power ability to grow into a brand new plant just from a branch staked into the ground!
This technique of installing live stakes is a form of bioengineering. Bioengineering is the use of biological, ecological and mechanical concepts to control streambank erosion – US Army Corps of Engineers
After learning all about bioengineering techniques and how to make live stakes, students got to work quickly cutting up branches of Pacific Willow and Scouler’s Willow. The willow branches were harvested by SOLVE staff from a nearby wetland about a mile south of Boardman Wetlands so genetic stock from the area was used. Students first cut off any smaller side branches and leaves since we want all the plant’s resources going into making roots this spring and not to worry about producing leaves. We cut 3 foot long stakes with a flat cut on top and a 90 degree angle cut on the bottom so we can mallet them easily into the soil.
Student Students learned that installing live stakes can not only control erosion but also control the super invasive Reed Canary Grass at Boardman Wetlands. Scientists from the University of Washington have been studying the control of Reed Canary grass with densely planted willow stakes:
Conclusions: Reed canarygrass growth was significantly reduced by willows grown from stakes. Willows at the 0.60 m planting density significantly diminished reed canarygrass biomass after the first growing season and willows at the 0.60 and 0.91 m planting densities significantly diminished reed canarygrass biomass after the second growing season. Based on our results, we conclude that live staking of willows at spacings of 0.60 m or 0.91 m can be an effective method for managing reed canary- grass in a wetland setting. – Kim, Ewing, & Giblin; Controlling Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass) with live willow stakes: A density-dependent response
We made sure to install the willow cuttings really densely (2 feet apart). The willow will begin to sprout as early as this spring and over time begin to create shade – Reed Canary grass’ one enemy! Students got to check out the willow stakes that were installed by Putnam students last year. Below you can see just how much a willow grew in one year!
Students also planted 14 native Ninebark and Nootka rose plants. Thanks Rex Putnam and Oak Lodge Sanitary District!