Once covering 30% of Oregon’s Willamette Valley floor, wetland prairies historically supported a diverse array of over 250 different native plant species. Today all but 2% of these dynamic landscapes survived the past 150 years of urbanization, agriculture, and exotic species encroachment. Utilizing historical documents and archeological evidence to understand what plant and human communities existed prior to Euro-American colonization, researchers know that Willamette Valley wetlands were cultivated and shaped by 10,000 years of direct Native American intervention. The Kalapuya people utilized advanced fire regimes to enhance the proliferation of important edible plant species, particularly camas, biscuit-root, madia, and Oregon white oak. By intentionally starting low intensity, controlled burns, the Kalapuya suppressed woody plant encroachment while increasing light, space, and nutrient resources for plants key to their diet and complex trade systems. Oregon archaeologists have even unearthed 7,000 year old ovens devoted solely to cooking harvested camas bulbs, exhibiting just how long humans needed these nutrient-rich species and the landscapes that housed them for survival.
Today Willamette Valley wetlands are host to a number of federally endangered and threatened organisms as well as some of Oregon’s earliest wetland conservation projects. In 1992, the West Eugene Wetlands, now numbering more than three thousand acres of restored habitat, became center stage for the state’s first of many restoration efforts. Over the decades, local researchers developed innovative best-practices while learning how to protect, rebuild, and restore these systems from the ground up with years of applied research and practice. The City of Eugene uses high native species diversity and maintenance of diversity over time as a benchmark of restoration success. This process is easier said than done, however, and requires a great amount of hands on monitoring, extensive plant knowledge, and invasive control to be remotely successful. Wetland staff regularly conduct time-consuming site assessments and complex vegetative monitoring to measure restoration progress and make science-based management decisions.
Volunteers with advanced botanical knowledge are greatly needed to help steward these environments, collect data, and remove invasives from important pollinator habitat. To be of use to restoration managers though, helpers must be able to learn and correctly identify over 360 potentially occurring native/invasive species. The Pacific Northwest is a cultural hotspot of knowledgeable gardeners, environmental activists, and budding botanists, therefore it would only seem natural that plant-knowledgeable helpers would be in great supply. However, there is a surprising lack of resources from which to train future professionals and much-needed volunteers on how to identify what is growing in the region’s wetland prairies.
In the course of conducting my own vegetative monitoring research I discovered this glaring challenge when searching for ways to memorize the many species I would need to identify over the course of my seasonal fieldwork. This learning process was made virtually impossible by the fact that currently no one resource exists dedicated to displaying all species specific to Willamette Valley wetland prairies. This is extra surprising considering these system’s cultural, legal, economic, and ecological importance. Over the years, millions of dollars have been spent on rebuilding these ecosystems, but no one has yet managed to create a comprehensive field guide of the plants being preserved there. In reviewing commonly utilized field guides, I found that, at most, resources only covered up to a third of plants occurring in the wetlands and often left out rare as well as invasive species, both of which are especially important for restoration practitioners to be aware of. Those that do cover more species often fall into two categories: 1) They are vague and not ecosystem-specific, choosing to cover wider varieties of wetlands occurring across the Pacific Northwest rather than all of the diverse life living in Wetland Prairies; 2) Are intellectually inaccessible to the non-academically trained botanist, written with unclear, dated scientific jargon. Importantly, the majority of these later works are very text-based, non-visual reference volumes inappropriate for field work. My graduate project therefore aims to develop a user-friendly, scientifically informed, illustrated field guide of Willamette Valley wetland prairie plants for practitioners and volunteers trying to help protect these incredible ecosystems.
 Morlan, J., E. Blok, W. Kirchner, J. Mine (2010). Wetland and Land Use Change in the Willamette Valley, Oregon: 1994 to 2005. Oregon Department of State Lands.
 Johannessen, C. L., W. A. Davenport, A. Millet, and S. McWilliams. 1971. The vegetation of the Willamette Valley. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 61:286-302.
 Ames, Kenneth M. 1985 Hierarchies, Stress, and Logistical Strategies among Hunter-Gatherers in Northwestern North America. In Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers: The Emergence of Cultural Complexity, edited by T. Douglas Price and James A. Brown, pp. 155- 180. Academic Press, New York.
 Mackey, Harold. The Kalapuyans: A Sourcebook on the Indians of the Willamette Valley. Salem: Mission Mill Museum Association, 1974. Print.
 Boyd, Robert. Ed. 1999. Strategies of Indian Burning in the Willamette Valley. In Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest, pp. 94-138. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis.
 Eugene Parks and Open Space Division (2011). West Eugene Wetlands Mitigation Bank 2011 Annual Report. City of Eugene Public Works Department, 2011.
 Krueger, J., Bois, S., Kaye, T., Steeck, D., Taylor, T., (2014). Practical Guidelines for Wetland Prairie Restoration in the Willamette Valley, Oregon: Field Tested Methods and Techniques. Lane Council of Governments, Institute for Applied Ecology, City of Eugene. 2014.
 Krueger, J. et al 2014
 Wold, E., J. Jancitis, T. Taylor and D Steeck (2011). Restoration of Agricultural Fields to Diverse Wet Prairie Plant Communities in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Northwest Science, 85(2):269-287.
 Conrad, C. and Hinchey, C., 2011, A Review of Citizen Science and Community-Based Environmental Monitoring: Issues and Opportunities Environ. Monitoring Assessment, 176 (2011), pp. 273–291
 Krueger, J., et al 2014.