Tribal Government & News

Tyee Nature Reserve open to the public

06.14.2012 Michelle Alaimo Natural resources

By Rebecca McCoun

Tribal biologist

The Tyee Nature Reserve, located to the south of the Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority building, is open for public use and is accessible from Housing Authority's parking lot.

Restoration of this site has been an ongoing project between the Tribe's Natural Resources and Cultural Resources departments and the Institute for Applied Ecology, a non-profit group.

The Tribe has used the Tyee site as a Nelson's checkermallow plant reserve since the 1990s. Nelson's checkermallow is a plant on the threatened species list that can be found throughout Grand Ronde.

Work to restore prairie habitat and enhance the Nelson's checkermallow population began several years ago when Melanie Gisler with the Institute for Applied Ecology approached the Tribe with grant funds from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The institute collected seed from the local plants for genetic preservation and brought in Nelson's checkermallow plants from other reserve sites.

Other native prairie plants were introduced to the property with an emphasis on plants with cultural uses to ensure plant diversity and improved overall ecosystem function. Some of these plants include camas, tarweed, juncus and bitterroot, among others.

Tribal staff is hoping that this site be used in the future as a locally available gathering area for camas and other cultural plants. Currently, plants on this property are not available for harvest because of a need for the plants to be established before gathering can begin. This will ensure a sustainable harvest in the future.

An official celebration marking the opening of the site will occur early next spring when flowers are in full bloom. Until then, take a walk on the gravel paths and enjoy the flowers that are in bloom.

For more information about the Tyee Nature Reserve, contact Tribal Biologist Rebecca McCoun at 503-879-2396 or Tribal Cultural Protection Specialist David Harrelson at 503-879-2320.

Special thanks to Gisler, staff and volunteers from the Institute for Applied Ecology, the Tribe's fish and wildlife volunteer interns, the Tribe's silviculture crew, grounds keeping and the 2011 Summer Youth Crew for their contributions to the project.