For two years, we studied soils’ unique contribution to site ecology to help inform planning and implementation of conservation practices on prairie restoration sites. Funded by NRCS, the Prairie Soils for Sustainable Restoration (PSSR) project has allowed us to assess soil characteristics in rare and declining upland prairie habitats. Through the comparison of remnant prairies’ soils to those of restoration sites, analyses and mapping have identified soil characteristics that may be helpful in the selection of future restoration sites.
According to project partner, Andy Gallagher, “Harvesting the knowledge embodied in the prairie remnants depends on getting to knowledge before it is lost. Gaining this knowledge will take vision, cooperation, money, hard work, and time. It seems as if the last item, time, is of the essence for these prairies and for these soils. Timing is critical, and it is imperative that this work be done soon, before this source of knowledge and these communities are lost forever. We like to think we understand soils and prairies but until we understand them together, interacting and indivisible, we don’t and can’t really know them fully.”
Andy Gallagher is one of 47 people who contributed to the Prairie Soils project, although his involvement with Benton SWCD reaches back over a decade. Below, Andy describes his ties to the District.
“I first came to Benton SWCD looking for conservation-minded people in the Willamette Valley. I just showed up at one of the monthly Board meetings. In my years as Associate and District Director, I worked to create an Education and Outreach Program, which I felt was critical to the District’s mission. Our major accomplishment toward that goal was sponsoring two RARE volunteers who helped lay the groundwork for our program and the eventual hiring of Teresa Matteson.
“Another thing I am proud of is working alongside Tom Bedell, Cliff Hall, and others to get the tax base on the 2004 ballot. It was successfully passed by the voters. It is amazing how far the District has come since those years.
“My most recent involvement with the District has been through several grant projects managed by Benton SWCD, and funded by Western SARE, EPA, and NRCS. During those opportunities, I consulted on soil classification projects related to soil quality. Each year, I volunteer at the District’s Native Plant Sale because I love it and, now, I bring my boys who like to help out, too.”