- Pine Creek Conservation Area (PCCA), just northeast of the John Day River in Wheeler County, Oregon, was acquired in 1999-2001 by the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs with support from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), to mitigate for wildlife losses created by the large, hydropower Columbia River Dams, particularly the Bonneville, Dalles and John Day Dams. Many thousands of acres of grassland, shrub steppe and riparian habitats were lost due to inundation, and the objectives of the acquisition included restoration of similar habitats.
As part of an interagency agreement created in 2002, the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center established a baseline monitoring program in 2002. This effort included the establishment of permanent monitoring plots to allow for a detailed assessment of vegetation change in the plant communities occurring at the site. It also included the development of an existing vegetation map, hopefully to allow for an analysis of overall vegetation change across the conservation area. The map showed the distribution of western juniper, native grasslands, big sagebrush, and weed-dominated areas at the site.
In the eight years since the original map was made, a series of management actions, including juniper clearing, prescribed fires, and riparian restoration activities have significantly changed the vegetation at PCCA. In the spring and summer of 2010, the Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, now the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center at Portland State University, visited the area to assist the land manager in developing a strategy for meeting the information needs of the Tribes and BPA in evaluating the success of the first decade of restoration. This report details that effort, which incorporated a combination of field inspection, photo-interpretation, and remote sensing-based mapping to assess change since the establishment of the conservation area, to lay a new baseline against which to measure future change, and most importantly to provide detailed information useful for land management decisionmaking in the continuing restoration efforts.