City developing plans for Hobart, new community vision

Sean C. Morgan

The city of Sweet Home intends to develop a management plan to protect three local species of plants: the endangered Bradshaw’s lomatium, and Methuselah’s beard, a lichen, and tall bugbane, both of which are considered “sensitive” species.

Those moves are part of an overall effort to bring the city’s park planning up to speed.

“We’re going to do a management plan for Hobart Park, located at the south end of 35th Avenue, and we’re working on a Parks Master Plan overall,” said Community Development Director Carol Lewis. “The Parks Master Plan is extremely outdated.”

That plan was developed in 1983.

“This project has more to do with the Bradshaw’s lomatium, the endangered species at Hobart Park,” Lewis said. The city has a state mandate to manage the property for that species. Bradshaw’s lomatium is a perennial herb in the parsley family that grows as high as 20 inches, with clusters of small yellow flowers.

Bugbane also called rattletop, is a perennial herb in the buttercup family that grows 4 or 5 feet tall in wooded areas. Its name comes from the fact that the plants are said to put bugs to flight by the rustling of their dried seed heads, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica on-line.

City staff members are not scientists, she said, so the city needs to look for help from the outside. Rebecca Currin, who is part of the state’s endangered species enforcement arm, will serve as consultant to develop the plan.

Initially, the city sought a grant to implement plans for the park, Lewis said, but that was premature and denied. Afterward, the city received a technical assistance grant, Lewis said.

The grant funds arrive in April, she said. “It’ll be a quick project for us.”

The grant provides $25,726 toward the project, with in-kind contributions of $14,733 from city staff members and personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.

The management plan applies to nearly 65 acres, Lewis said. About 25 acres provide habitat for the lomatium, while another 40 acres is wooded.

The sensitive lichen and bugbane are in the woodland, Lewis said. Part of the plan will cover management of the woodlands, which were harvested many years ago.

The woodland is divided into two parts, Lewis said. One is covered in water this time of year. The other is a dry upland.

The first part of the planning will include a plant survey, Lewis said. Staff members already know some of the species, such as camas and a native pear tree, but there are many more plant species they don’t know.

The site also has some 12,000 to 15,000 lomatium plants, Lewis said. It is the most important lomatium site in Linn County. The next largest population is about 600 plants.

Among the questions the plan will answer is whether the city should introduce more diversity to the plant population at Hobart and whether it should be collecting seeds to help in the recovery of lomatium around the state, Lewis said.

“We’ve got this little treasure out there,” Lewis said, but what happens will need to wait until the city has a scientific basis to manage the land.

Hobart is a nature park, Lewis said. The city’s question is “how do we introduce people into it in a positive way that doesn’t detract?”

With the plan, the city will be able to figure out how to build a boardwalk to help people cross the wet park, with its foot of standing water at times, and protect the endangered species, Lewis said.

The city also will do a “vision,” which will describe what Hobart Park will look like in 50 years. That visioning will be part of the city’s larger strategic planning and parks master planning from community development, economic developing, education and safety perspectives, among others, she said.

The Community Development Department will look at open spaces, what the city has left and what it will still have after 50 years of building, construction and growth, Lewis said. “It’s a balancing act of resources and human activity.”

Chris Maser of Corvallis will serve as a consultant during a three-day goal-setting and vision process, Lewis said. He has worked in a variety of different scientific fields and is currently doing a lot of work in sustainability.

“I’m excited about working with Chris,” Lewis said. “He’ll be really different for Sweet Home.”

To begin with, the city will ask anyone and everyone it can three questions:

n What do you like about Sweet Home?

n What do you value about Sweet Home?

n What brings you joy living in Sweet Home?

Taking the vision out 50 years removes all of the fears and defenses surrounding the issues of the present day.

The city will involve the schools, Lewis said. The children are the ones who will be here in 50 years.

The city will ask the question in public meetings about the parks plan and the strategic plan, she said. No dates are set yet, but meetings will be held most likely in April and May.

In June or July, the management plan should be coming together so the city can pursue implementation grants.

As part of the Parks Master Plan, the Parks Board will begin looking at each park. The vision and strategic planning will help feed the master planning project.

Anyone interested in more information, getting on the city’s mailing list for the project, submitting answers to the three questions or commenting can email [email protected] or [email protected], call (541) 367-8113 or stop by City Hall at 1140 12th Ave.