Plant Association Training and Work in Oregon

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel from where I live, in San Francisco, to some National Forests in Oregon. Since Oregon is within the Forest Service region I work for, it was great to meet some of the people I have been working with these past few months. I got to attend a plant association training on the Siuslaw National Forest, which is on the Oregon Coast. The following week, I went on a trip to do field work with some Forest Service employees on the Willamette National Forest in Central Oregon. Since I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, it was great to be back in the region and see plants that aren’t as common in California.

My coworker and I got up early the day of the plant association field training to drive from Portland, Oregon to the Hebo Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest. Since I work at the Pacific Northwest Regional Office, I don’t often get to meet Forest Service staff who work on individual Forest units, so it was nice to meet the botanists, ecologists, and technicians who were also at the training. There were even a couple biologists from Fish & Wildlife Service that made it an “interagency” training.

The location of the Hebo Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest near the Oregon Coast.

Plant association is a way of classifying different ecosystems based on their dominant plant types, so we used guides with special dichotomous keys to determine the different ecosystem types based on the plants we identified in them. It was great to get outside and sharpen some of my plant identification and ecology skills.

The location-specific guide we were trained to use to identify dominant vegetation and ecosystem types for the Northern Oregon Coast mountain ranges.

Since I flew in and out of Portland for this trip, I was able to meet up with my mentor and another Resource Assistant who work in the Regional Office there. It was nice to be able to meet them in person after working with them virtually for months.

Estimating percent cover of different plant species in a plot to practice our plant association skills
Taking a lunch break in the forest with other Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service employees in the training

The next week, my coworker and I made another long drive from Portland to the Willamette National Forest to meet the field crew for a monitoring project we were helping with, but more on that in the next post!

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