Grassland Restoration

Planting on Paradise, Spanish Ridge, Collecting CAFO, 5 Spot, Spanish Flat planting

90% of California's rare and endangered species inhabit grassland ecosystems

Promoting diverse coastal prairies                                                        Get Involved!!

Almost all of the grasslands in the Mattole — some 27,000 acres — have come to be dominated by non-native grasses that were introduced by early settlers to the valley. Many historic grasslands have been lost to encroaching brush and conifers. There has been a 40% reduction oNative grass surveys on Lake Ridgef Mattole grasslands since fire suppression began some 60 years ago. 

In order to address these issues, the Native Grassland Enhancement program seeks to gain a better understanding of the current state of grassland ecosystems in the Mattole watershed, preserves and enhance remnant native grass populations, and implement native grassland enhancement projects in priority areas. We accomplish these goals through the following projects:

newly found stand og Festuca idahoensis on Oat Ridge

Surveying and Mapping Native Grasslands

Knowing where native and non-native grass populations exist in our watershed is integral to planning native grasslands enhancement projects. Since 2007 grasslands crews have surveyed over 1000 acres of grasslands in the Mattole and the KRNCA.  Site data is collected at each point, populations are mapped and data is entered into our GIS grasslands database. This data is used to track native grass collection sites, analyze trends in native and non-native grass populations, and  to plan future native grasslands restoration projects.

Native Grass Seed CollectionMonica collecting cliestogamos seed from Danthonia californica

Native grass seed collection is the foundation for all of the grasslands work we do in the Mattole Watershed and the KRNCA. The council collects seed from existing native grass populations, direct seeds and propagates grass plugs in our Native Plant Nursery for use on our revegetation sites, to increase native grass populations in the Mattole watershed and KRNCA.  Since 2007 the council has identified over 100 collection sites and collected over 120 lbs. of native grass seed.  Our target species for collection include Lemons needlegrass (Acnatherum lemmonii), California brome (Bromus carinatus), Leafy reedgrass (calamagrostis foliosa), California oatgrass (Danthonia californica), Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa), Blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus), Big squirreltail (Elymus multisetus), California fescue (Festuca califronica), Idahoe fescue (Festuca idahoensis), Junegrass (Koleria macrantha), California Melic (Melica californica), and Purple needlegrass (Nasella pulchra).

Monica, Dave, and Hugh Planting in Paradise

Native Grass Revegetation

Since 2007, the council has undertaken a number of native grass revegetation projects in the Mattole watershed and the KRNCA.  Revegetion sites are chosen based on proximately to existing native grass populations, soils, and absence of hard to control non-native plant species, with a priority given to recently burned sites. Over the past 3 years our grasslands crews have planted 35,000 native grass plugs on re-vegetation sites on Spanish Flat, Propser Ridge, and Paradise Ridge.

Meadow Reclamationconifer encroachment on Festuca idahoensis - Oat Ridge

Although Douglas fir and most coastal scrub species are native to our watershed, they are considered invasive when they encroach on grassland ecosystems. The absence of natural fire regimes in the Mattole has resulted in a 40% loss of grasslands due to fir and coastal scrub encroachment.  In order to prevent further encroachment of these species into our grasslands, field crews physically remove young trees through pulling and lopping.  Sites that have native grass populations that are in direct competition with encroaching conifer and brush species are of the highest priority. The Council also works with BLM-Arcata and the Lower Mattole Fire Safe Council to plan fuels reduction projects that help increase the size of existing meadows. When appropriate, native grass plugs are planted on newly reclaimed sites.


All reclamation and re-vegetation sites are monitored to ensure plant survival and project success. Project sites are revisited every six months for two to five years after project implementation.  Data is collected on plant survival, plant growth, and general changes in species composition. When necessary, sites are weeded to reduce competition with non native plants.

Summary of accomplishments: 2007-2010 (appendices below)

   Appendix A.1 (32MB)
    Appendix A.2 (12MB)
    Appendix A.3 (12MB)
    Appendix A.4 (11MB)
    Appendix A.5 (12MB)
    Appendix A.6 (8.5MB)
    Appendix A.7 (8MB)
    Appendix A.8 (8MB)
    Appendix A.9 (7MB)
    Appendix A.10 (6MB)
    Appendix A.11 (3.5MB)
    Appendix B (55KB)
    Appendix C (55KB)
    Appendix D (4MB)
    Appendix E.1 (35KB)
    Appendix E.2 (31KB)
    Appendix E.3 (32KB)
    Appendix E.4 (33KB)
    Appendix E.5 (35KB)
    Appendix E.6 (35KB)

What we accomplished in 2009

What we accomplished in 2008

What we accomplished in 2007

Thank you to our project partners:     Bureau of Land Management - Arcata field office
                                                               National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
                                                               Bella Vista Foundation
                                                               The Resource Legacy Fund Foundation