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Coastal Prairie in Bloom

A note from our Conservation Assistant, Amy Hutmacher:


Conservation Assistant, Amy Hutmacher, shares a story of her first visit to see the early blooms in the Clatsop Plains.

On a beautiful morning that was so warm it didn’t feel like the Oregon coast, I got my first glimpse of two stars of the coastal prairie: chocolate lilies and early blue violets.

early blue violets

early blue violets blooming in the Clatsop Plains

chocolate lilies

Chocolate lilies have quite an interesting aroma!

Both native prairie plants were flowering in early May when I was invited to tag along on a fieldtrip to Camp Rilea with Stewardship Director Melissa Reich and a group from the National Park Service. Bill Vagt, Natural Resources Specialist with the Oregon Army National Guard, was our guide and explained some of the challenges faced in restoring native prairie.

discussing chocolate lilies2

We visited a grassy slope featuring hundreds of chocolate lilies and their distinct aroma. When I mentioned I liked the smell of the flowers, I was told “you might be part fly.” It turns out the scent of chocolate lilies is meant to emulate carrion and attract flies, which act as pollinators. Maybe I should question my senses, but it could also just make me better suited for my well-rounded job as Conservation Assistant. Many days I am lucky enough to monitor NCLC’s amazing habitat reserves; yesterday I found myself inside a dumpster at Circle Creek (helping with our barn clean-up project). I love the variety of this work. From conservation planning to mapping invasive plants to the occasional dumpster dive in the name of spring cleaning, I’m happy to be contributing to NCLC’s important mission.


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