Now that I’m back from my maternity leave, I decided it was time to show 3 month old Duncan about our work to improve habitat at Lava Lake. Or maybe it’s just that he’s still really portable and sleeps so well in the car….
DSC00315I joined up with Tim, David, and Melendez at the ranch to collect willow stakes for our on-going restoration project. Now is the time for collecting willow stakes because the trees are dormant and there are still a few leaves on the trees to help with identification. We started by identifying the different willow species in the existing willow cluster down by the lake.
IMG_2796We found a mix of geyer, whiplash, booth, and coyote willows. We like knowing which species is which, so we can plant a diverse mix of species that are suited to the area. For our current planting, we needed 100 willow stakes that are about 3 feet tall. The great thing about using willows for restoration is that the cuttings are free, as long as you have some existing willows to harvest from and don’t mind spending a couple hours getting intimate with the wild rose thorns and the eye-poking tangle of willow branches.
IMG_2803As you can see in the photos, the new stream channel has some nice meanders and replaces the old channel that was effectively a straight ditch without much in the way of habitat.
IMG_2797The horses were enjoying some late fall pasture and were very curious about Duncan.
At first the willows will put most of their energy into the roots, but in a short time they will be sprouting new shoots and the once treeless channel will be a thing of the past. Once the new stream has a flourishing spread of vegetation, many more birds will be calling this place home.

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