Native Plant Restoration Project

Native prairies and grasslands are susceptible to many pressures from agriculture to urban development, herbicides and pesticides, recreational activity, the encroachment of trees and invasive species such as the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit.

We are working to remove noxious weeds and restore native plant species at the north end of Swan Lake, in part to bring back the Taylor Checkerspot Butterfly and other species that once thrived here. In the fall of 2009 we planted our first micro-habitat plot, also known as the rabbit salad bar, as a test to see how much competition these plants would receive from the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit.

We planted these natives:


-Sea Blush

-Indian Paintbrush

We were particularly successful with Plectritis congesta, or Sea Blush. We discovered the rabbits would not eat this pretty, pink annual that grows with ease in our watershed. We will be ordering seeds to plant additional Sea Blush and hope that nearby residents will join us in planting it to help the Checkerspot Butterfly recover.

In the winter of 2012 four additional micro-habitat plots were burned and planted with Camas, Sea blush and Indian paintbrush in addition to numerous native prairie species for a total of five intentionally planted micro-habitat plots.

We annually mow the microhabitat plots plus the border of the restoration area to prevent encroachment into the maritime prairie by the native Rosa nutkana, a wild-rose shrub that grows as a hedge protecting the site from the road at eastern border of the acreage. And we seasonally work at diminishing the number of Himalayan black berry and poison hemlock plants by mowing, snipping seed heads (which are hauled offsite) and manually digging up plants. Following any digging, the areas are replanted with native seed mixes that include a high percentage of native grass seed from the site.

The results of our efforts as of the summer of 2013 have been surprising and delightful. Towards maritime prairie restoration we have discovered native red fescue, California oat grass and Pacific sanicle in addition to Plantago lanceolota, a novel larval host plant for the Taylor’s checkerspot (“TC”) and native trailing blackberry, a novel nectaring host plant for the TC. We have also found a small patch of native strawberry plants that are also used as a nectaring host plant for the TC.

Surveys in 2013 yielded no evidence of the TC but we are hopeful that our efforts will be rewarded in coming years. The site is rich with ecological diversity and although we have not yet found evidence of the TC returning to the site, we have found abundant wildlife including the following butterfly species: Spring Azure, Woodland Skipper, Cabbage White and Mylitta Crescent.