Monday, June 09, 2008

Field of Flax

Controlling weeds can feel like an uphill battle (quite literally, in steep places like Hells Canyon). After they've been eliminated, all too often they reappear in the same places the next year. That's why restoring native plants is such an important component of The Nature Conservancy's work.

The field above, situated behind the preserve office at Silver Creek, was covered in weeds several years ago--offering very little for wildlife and threatening to spread to other areas of the preserve.

Working with partners, the Conservancy tilled the area and replanted it with flax and native plants. The flax fixes the soil by adding nitrogen, important because non-native weeds often leave the soil depleted. The flax blooms early and takes over; it's the blue flowers in the picture you can see above. It is also used by a number of bird and beneficial insect species.

Although you can't see it in the field of blue, below the flax are many native grasses. As they grow, they eventually will become the dominant plant. The flax is just buying those plants time, and creating better soil conditions.

Restoration takes time, but it is easier to restore a small area like the field above than try to restore thousands or millions of acres. The field of blue flowers signals that this area will soon welcome the return of native grasses. --Matt Miller

1 comment:

Mike said...

So, does this mean that flax is native to Idaho? Or do you have to add the flax with native plants because the soil has been so depleted? Keep up the good work.