The Schaub Ranch, owned and operated by the Hobbs Family, is located in the stunning Lewis-Clark Valley near the confluence of the Clearwater (the “C” in PCEI) and Snake Rivers. The views from the multiple overlooks along the grade are spectacular.
The restoration site centers around an unnamed tributary of the Clearwater River that runs through a basalt-rimmed draw. The stream is spring-fed, which means water will be consistently available through the hot and dry summers. This allows for riparian plants to thrive where they could not survive on a seasonal stream of that size, relying exclusively on snowmelt and rain. Overall, this stream is in relatively poor condition, lacking native, woody plants with deep roots. This is problematic because healthy streams require plants with such root systems, as they stabilize the soil and prevent erosion along the stream. Without these crucial plants, streams become deep, steep, and unstable, with a lower water table, increased soil loss and fine particulates that flow downstream to the Clearwater River. Therefore, this stream is a great location to utilize native plants, which will stabilize stream banks, improve water quality and provide habitat for the wildlife that is already abundant on the Schaub Ranch.
Implementation of this project began in the fall of 2019 and will be complete in the summer of 2020. A series of plants with varying environmental requirements were selected for the site. In all, more than 5000 individual plants representing ten species were planted. Below is a breakdown of species composition planted at the Schaub Ranch site.
Willows were planted at the highest rate for several reasons. First, they are easy to establish since cuttings of willow limbs will readily take hold even after being stored for an extended time. The cuttings are small enough that there is no need to dig a hole. Rather, piercing the ground with a rebar tool or auger can make a small diameter pilot hole that the willow can be planted in. In addition, willows grow at a relatively fast rate and spread quickly to provide bank stabilization soon after they are planted. Willow cuttings are inexpensive when compared to plants propagated from seed, as they require little care and are ready to transplant as soon as they are cut from their original stock.
Planting at the Schaub Ranch was done exclusively by hand. Excellent volunteers from Clearwater Paper and Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections as well as friends and supporters of Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute (PCEI) were the backbone of this rewarding effort. PCEI staff is currently maintaining the plantings by mechanical weeding and hand watering to help the plants get established.
We would like to thank Mr. Bill Hobbs and everyone at the Schaub Ranch, our volunteers, donors and funders for making this project possible. Keep an eye out for more updates as the growing season progresses!