National Park Service

Upper Columbia Basin Network (UCBN)

Camas Lily Monitoring Program

Camas lilies in bloom at Big Hole National Battlefield
Camas lilies in bloom at Big Hole National Battlefield

Camas Lily Monitoring Resource Briefs

Camas Lily Monitoring Reports

Camas Lily Monitoring Protocol & Procedures

For more information contact: Tom Rodhouse

Parks Monitored

Video: Camas Lily Monitoring in the Upper Columbia Basin Network

Importance / Issues

  • Camas lily (Camassia quamash) is a key cultural resource as well as an important ecological component of herbaceous wetland communities. Camas lily was historically one of the most widely utilized plant foods of the Nez Perce people and remains so for many tribal members today.
  • Ecologically, camas lily is strongly associated with seasonal wet prairie ecosystems of the interior Columbia Plateau, which are represented at Weippe Prairie (part of Nez Perce National Historical Park) and along the North Fork of the Big Hole River (at Big Hole National Battlefield). These ecosystem types have experienced significant regional declines due to agricultural conversion, exotic plant invasion, and altered hydrology.
  • Establishing a program to monitor the long-term trends in camas lily populations has provided important information to the parks for their adaptive management decisions and land health performance goals. Current estimates indicate that camas density is increasing at an approximate rate of 7% per year, on average, across Weippe Prairie, possibly as a result of passive restoration initiated in the site at the time of NPS acquisition in 2003. Positive trend of approximately 5% is estimated for camas density at BIHO as well.
  • Restoration plans for the Weippe Prairie are now underway and informed by 9 years of camas monitoring. Our monitoring will continue into the future and can contribute to an evaluation of the ecological effects of restoration in Weippe Prairie.
  • The UCBN has effectively partnered with the park interpretive staff to develop a citizen science program to support monitoring. Each year high school students from gateway communities around Weippe Prairie are trained and participate in small field teams supervised by UCBN and park staff to collect annual camas monitoring data.

Monitoring Objectives

  • Estimate mean established plant and flowering stem densities (status) in the camas populations of Weippe Prairie and within the targeted portion of the Big Hole National Battlefield.
  • Determine trends in the densities of established camas populations in Weippe Prairie and BIHO.
  • Determine trends in the proportion of flowering to non-flowering camas plants in Weippe Prairie and BIHO.
  • Determine trends in the frequency of occurrence of targeted invasive plants - currently these are orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum), sulphur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta), reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinaceae), oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense).
  • Determine the magnitude and direction of camas density response to measurable explanatory variables such as winter precipitation, prairie microtopography as measured using high resolution laser altimetry (LiDAR), and specific management and restoration activities.

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Last Updated: April 05, 2017 Contact Webmaster