Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Saving Darlingtonia: Pumping, Pollution, Public Participation, and Perceived Impacts to a Carnivorous Pitcher Plant: Darlingtonia State Natural Site, Florence, Oregon Public Deposited

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  • Oregon’s coast draws millions of visitors every year to witness the natural wonders of one the world’s most vibrant and publicly accessible areas where mountain forests meet sandy beaches and the sea. Communities along the Oregon coast are restricted to narrow stretches of developable land overlying sand deposits between the ocean and Oregon’s Coastal Range. Population on the coast varies tremendously, particularly during the dry summer season when the human population can increase up to 500% due to tourism. Within one of these narrow sand deposits is the North Florence Dunal Aquifer, an EPA-recognized sole source aquifer supplying thousands of citizens in the city of Florence, Oregon with water in addition to dozens of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDE) among the dunes and forests. One of these GDE is a fen within the Darlingtonia State Natural Site, a recreation site managed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) to protect and showcase a community of rare, carnivorous pitcher plants, the Darlingtonia californica (Darlingtonia). Increased human-related activities present a plethora of risks to this GDE including groundwater drawdown, salinity intrusion, nitrate contamination, among other source water quality and quantity concerns. In accordance with the call from GDE scholars to increase monitoring activities and model the hydrogeology of GDE, this study developed a groundwater monitoring program and performed a hydrogeologic analysis of the site to develop a better understanding of necessary groundwater boundary conditions for the health and vigor of the Darlingtonia population. A pressure transducer was installed in a geotechnical boring on-site to monitor the water table and samples were collected monthly for 12 months to establish the baseline conditions for the site and determine potentially adverse inputs. Results reveal a lack of pumping-induced groundwater drawdown and minimal influence from likely contaminant sources (septic systems, runoff, etc.). Source water temperature, however, is a serious concern for the Darlingtonia community within the fen as literature suggests their shallow root systems need a constant supply of cool groundwater to maintain health and vigor. This study also examines current GDE policy and management practices within and around Darlingtonia State Natural Site while exploring GDE policy and management mechanisms from around the world to determine how management and public participation in GDE protection can be improved at the site.
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