On June 25, 2016 Feather River Land Trust staff, natural resource professionals, and local families came together for a hands-on survey of life (called a BioBlitz) at the Olsen Barn and meadow.  It was a beautiful day with 25 curious participants armed with handlenses, butterfly nets, tablets, and cameras.

What we found was a meadow teaming with life--nearly 150 diverse species were recorded in three hours!

kids with hand lens in meadow.

 

A BioBlitz is a   collaborative effort to discover and record as many living things as possible within a specific area over a short period of time. The idea is to have the community share expertise and enthusiasm for nature while learning more about plants, animals, and insects on a special piece of land.

Photos by Vanessa Vasquez/FRLT.

 

Feather River Land Trust organized this event not only to have fun but also to accomplish a management goal. This citizen science effort will be used to inform the Olsen Property management team about biodiversity on the property (including invasive weeds) and the data collected will be included in a management plan for the property. It is important for the Land Trust to know what animals, insects, and plants call the meadow and barn home before big management decisions are made. Other surveys that will inform Land Trust management on the property include a public recreation use survey complete in April 2016, a historical architectural analysis of the barn, many nesting bird surveys completed by Point Blue Conservation Science, and an upcoming cultural resources survey. 

For more on the current management process read here.

Local botanists key out native plants at the Olsen meadow

Local botanists key out a native cinquefoil in the middle of the meadow.

During the June BioBlitz participants worked in three groups focusing on different life-forms. The botanical group led by Kirsten Bovee, US Forest Service, walked from Highway 36 through the meadow and down to the North Fork Feather River.  On their slow stroll (plant people stop every few feet for a new discovery!) they encountered many european grasses from the property's agricultural past and a surprising number of natives. Native plants identified include rusty slender sedge, California needlegrass, graceful lupine, white stemmed gooseberry, and many more.  Click here for the list of plants found during the BioBlitz.

The invertebrate group led by Westwood entomologist Jim Moore and a gaggle of excited children explored the field and riverside forest with nets and jars looking for flying, swimming, and crawling insects. This group did an excellent job and collected and recorded 50 critters. Jim's report with color photos can be viewed online(scoll past the plant list). BioBlitz Insect Report.

kids with butterfly nets in the Olsen Meadow

Future land stewards work their way to the barn capturing damselflies, leafhoppers, and moths.

The third group was on the look out for birds and mammals on the southern portion of the Olsen Property. While many bird species were easily observed in the meadow and riparian habitats, the group got creative to capture other data. Small, nocturnal mammals were surveyed through owl pellet dissection. A local biologist collected 20 owl pellets from inside the Olsen Barn and then sat down during the BioBlitz to dissect them. Using the shape of the bones, skulls, and other distinguishing features the team discovered 4 species of rodent that call the meadow home (and are eaten by resident owls)--voles, deer mice, pocket gophers, and shrews.  It is likely that many more mammals forage on the property like rabbits and black-tailed deer. Keep an eye out next time you drive by or walk the property and let us know what you see!

Birds observed during the BioBlitz include: a bald eagle, a great horned owl, redwing blackbirds, osprey, several types of swallows, a yellow warbler, and other songbirds.

Thank you to everyone who participated in FRLT's first Olsen Property BioBlitz!

Aiden uses a new field tablet to look up butterflys native to the Almanor Basin.

Feather River Land Trust's work is possible because of the generous conservation community that provides resources, knowledge, time, and money to protect biodiversity and make our world a better place to live. By understanding our local landscapes we can connect more deeply to the web of life that sustains us all.

Thank you to the Strong Foundation for Environmental Values for funding the Olsen Property BioBlitz and thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers.

 

 

Friday, July 22, 2016