This Highland Wonders event provided an opportunity to learn from one of the region’s premier grass experts, Don Gayton, who discussed our local grassland ecology and grass plant identification. Community members did not have to be botanists to enjoy this two-part indoor/outdoor event, as everyone from the greenhorn to the conversant could get something from Don’s wealth of knowledge. Topics covered included grassland types, invasive plants, grazing and fire interactions, and simplified methods of identifying grasses.
First, an indoor presentation about our local grasses was provided to the community at the Chesaw Community Center. During this presentation, Don provided a brief “flyover” visual description of Pacific Northwest Grasslands ecology and biogeography, and then focused on some of the key Pacific Northwest grass species. A simplified method of identification was briefly presented, based on four common grass tribes, and the group was then guided through the basics of grass plant keying using the tribes as a guide.
Directly afterward, a field trip was offered, providing on-the-ground examples of the concepts discussed during the presentation. The group traveled along MaryAnn Creek road near Chesaw, stopping at three locations, two of which were a part of the WDFW Byers Wildlife Area.
Thank you, Don Gayton, for providing such an informative and interesting learning experience!
Don Gayton, M.Sc., P.Ag., has extensive experience with our region’s grasslands and has published a number of technical articles about them. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of our precious and endangered grasslands. Don is an award winning author. His books include The Wheatgrass Mechanism, Landscapes of the Interior, Interwoven Wild, and Okanogan Odyssey. Stuart McLean describes him as having “the eye of a scientist and the soul of a poet.”