Walking through the rain at the Rock Creek Confluence Property, my head was down and my attention focused on the vegetation at my feet: leafy spurge, Dalmatian toadflax, spotted knapweed. I’ve grown accustomed to this view at the Confluence Property, where years of disturbance and neglect allowed native grassland to be overtaken by noxious weeds. As the stewards of this land now, we are working to reverse this trend and restore the more heavily degraded parts of the landscape. It’s exciting, but sometimes a daunting task. I happened to glance up for a moment, and a patch of something white in the distance caught my eye. I walked across the gravel bar near the Clark Fork River to get a closer look.
Cutleaf fleabane! Erigeron compositus—a dwarf, cushion-like plant that grows in grasslands, on rocky outcrops and open slopes, in arctic and alpine environments, and apparently on gravel bars along the Clark Fork River.
And then, a flash of blue in the rocks…
Waxleaf penstemon! Penstemon nitidus—a gorgeous native wildflower found in open, grassy hillsides and plains and on talus slopes. Something about that blue gave me an incredible surge of optimism. Even in a landscape that has been heavily impacted for generations, there are beautiful native wildflowers thriving.
Post written by Jenny Tollefson, stewardship manager for Five Valleys Land Trust.