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Executive Summary

With this project, we are proposing a highly collaborative approach to work directly with the Burke Museum and their representatives to engage in the interpretive planning practices and approaches already being developed for the recently installed, on-site Camas Meadow by museum staff and partners. Through this process we anticipate learning a tremendous amount regarding the historical and contemporary importance of this habitat type and source of nourishment for the Indigenous tribes of the Coast Salish region and all of Washington State. As part of this collaboration we propose to develop and conduct a 3-year plan monitoring plan to assess the establishment and growth of the camas meadow. The purpose of this monitoring is to develop a strategic, long-term management plan that is culturally engaged, built on collaboration and conversation and interpreted through perspectives that are grounded in local traditional knowledge as much as scientific approaches to botany and environmental understanding. Our intention with this work is to assist other organizations and communities seeking to reestablish this habitat type in Washington State and the broader Northwest region while, more locally working closely with UW Grounds to mitigate increased costs for maintenance while ensuring the ecological viability and sustainability of the project.  It is our intention to support educational goals through the committed engagement of our primary collaborators including students, a faculty member (Landscape Architecture), the Burke museum, UW Grounds, and GGN (landscape architecture firm). We will also seek to engage other organizations and entities both within the University system, such as wǝɫǝbʔaltxw (Intellectual House) and Urban@UW as well as outside, Oxbow Native Plant Nursery, the company which propagated, nourished, and donated the plants on site. Our intentions through this broad collaborative approach are to develop a framework and to deliver a management plan that synthesizes multiple design and management strategies to help further the conversation regarding the importance of this habitat type and this specific project to our collective communities.  In a recent survey, it was estimated that there was historically more than 5,000 acres of prairie habitat of what is today King County alone and that this habitat type was prevalent through much of the region and across the Cascade range. Though not a dominant ecosystem type within the region the prairies offered critical habitat for many plant, insect and animal species, while being extremely important for indigenous communities as a primary source nourishment and a valuable item for trade. Today, very little of the historical extent of prairies in the region remains, with only a few scattered remnant patches of any significance in size and the plant communities of both have been heavily impacted by the encroachment of invasive grass species. The landscape design for the Burke Museum included eighty thousand native plants. Most of these plants were propagated by locally collected seed. For example, much of the camas seed was collected on a small island in the San Juans and the bulbs were nurtured for up to four years in a nursery prior to planting. The site is extremely important to the Burke Museum and the communities such as the Native American Advisory Board which provides guidance and insight to their practices and approaches to interpretation. From this grounding in collaboration and conversation we seek to understand the establishment and growth of the plants community in the project will be assessed against varying management strategies that may include, but not be limited to hand weeding, mowing, and potentially controlled burning. The results of the monitoring research will be compiled into a document that again is grounded in the multiple understandings of the importance of camas and this critical habitat type to the people of this region and Washington State, while ideally also providing a set of maintenance and management practices that will inform UW Grounds, and other land management and design teams interested in understanding how to establish and nourish this rare habitat type. The proposal for three years includes the seasonal employment of five students, the collaborative development of this document, and assistance in supporting the interpretive approaches and opportunities determined by the Burke Museum.

Primary Contact:
Jocine Velasco