Event Title

Ecological integrity assessment (EIA) of Cypress Island balds

Presentation Abstract

Balds are characterized by shallow soils, rocky substrate, and a vegetation community composed of grasses and herbs. These ecosystems are rare in western Washington but persist in the San Juan Islands, both inland and at the tops of feeder bluffs and cliffs at the land-sea interface. Coast Salish people, presumably Samish ancestors, cultivated these ecosystems to produce camas, Indian celery and other food and medicinal plants. Samish elders remember camas harvesting techniques, and evidence of historic management by burning in the San Juan Islands provided by Dunwiddie and Bakker offers us a cultural use timeline that reaches back two centuries. Balds and prairies are already rare in western Washington due to development, and the remaining balds face threats from conifer encroachment in the absence of a cultivated fire regime. The Samish Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Washington State DNR and Department of Ecology, has conducted an Ecological Integrity Assessment of the balds on Cypress Island. The EIA research framework is designed to be flexible and applicable at multiple scales across ecosystem types. It consists of three “levels”: remote sensing analysis, rapid assessment, and detailed survey. Our EIA results indicate that the Cypress Island balds boast significant species richness, including several culturally important species. Most balds are threatened by conifer encroachment, and surprisingly few have high levels of invasive species; those that do would benefit from invasive species management. Based on the EIA results, we will develop and implement site-specific restoration plans for each bald in 2018. Many Samish tribal members today have passionate interest in reviving traditional foods and medicines, for both cultural pride and physical health. This will present an opportunity for Samish DNR to merge science and culture through experiments with traditional harvest methods and by including tribal members in our field work.

Session Title

Posters: Ecosystem Management, Policy, & Protection

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-49

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 5th, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

Ecological integrity assessment (EIA) of Cypress Island balds

Balds are characterized by shallow soils, rocky substrate, and a vegetation community composed of grasses and herbs. These ecosystems are rare in western Washington but persist in the San Juan Islands, both inland and at the tops of feeder bluffs and cliffs at the land-sea interface. Coast Salish people, presumably Samish ancestors, cultivated these ecosystems to produce camas, Indian celery and other food and medicinal plants. Samish elders remember camas harvesting techniques, and evidence of historic management by burning in the San Juan Islands provided by Dunwiddie and Bakker offers us a cultural use timeline that reaches back two centuries. Balds and prairies are already rare in western Washington due to development, and the remaining balds face threats from conifer encroachment in the absence of a cultivated fire regime. The Samish Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with Washington State DNR and Department of Ecology, has conducted an Ecological Integrity Assessment of the balds on Cypress Island. The EIA research framework is designed to be flexible and applicable at multiple scales across ecosystem types. It consists of three “levels”: remote sensing analysis, rapid assessment, and detailed survey. Our EIA results indicate that the Cypress Island balds boast significant species richness, including several culturally important species. Most balds are threatened by conifer encroachment, and surprisingly few have high levels of invasive species; those that do would benefit from invasive species management. Based on the EIA results, we will develop and implement site-specific restoration plans for each bald in 2018. Many Samish tribal members today have passionate interest in reviving traditional foods and medicines, for both cultural pride and physical health. This will present an opportunity for Samish DNR to merge science and culture through experiments with traditional harvest methods and by including tribal members in our field work.