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Joan St. Hilaire – USFS Jeff Bernatowicz – WDFW William Moore – WDFW - page 6 / 35





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surveys efforts were focused primarily on sites visible from road systems. Aerial photos (figures 2-4) indicate substantial potential habitat that was not surveyed.

In 1934, Pinegrass Ridge area was probably heavily timbered (Figure 5). Large scale clear-cut logging occurred on Pinegrass Ridge during the 1960s through the 1980s due to a white pine bark beetle outbreak. These large openings created connected habitat for the Mardon skipper. There were either populations in existing meadows or Mardons colonized from mega populations in the Conrad/Minnie Meadow complexes. Cold air pockets and cattle grazing have temporarily slowed down the conifer regeneration process for the past 20 years. Conifer encroachment is now proceeding rapidly and is the greatest threat to Mardon skipper habitat on Pinegrass Ridge.

In reviewing the broad historic picture, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980 should not be ignored. The NRD was covered with 2-3” of ash (Moen and McLucas, 1981). The ash stayed fluffy in Conrad meadows through the flight period in 1980 and impacted growth of grasses and flowering plants. The ash probably drifted around, leaving some areas within the Mardon range exposed. Some colonies may have been extirpated by the ash and lack of plant growth. If not for the logging, it is doubtful Mardon skippers would be as widely distributed on Pinegrass ridge as they were in 2008.

o In addition to the efforts described in the Xerces report (Jepsen et al. 2008), we searched over 50 sites (meadows and harvest units) and found 13 new Mardon skipper sites. A total of 18 new sites, including Xerces’ survey efforts, were found during the 2008 survey season. Only those sites that were also visited by USFS/WDFW staff are detailed in this report. A list of all sites visited by USFS and/or WDFW staff, their locations and whether or not Mardon skippers were found is included in Appendix A, and a description of each new (2008) Mardon skipper site is described below.

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