Invasive Species Management: Mustards and Thistles

Invasive species are non-native species that have been introduced to an area and can have a negative impact on the natural habitat, wildlife, and ecosystem functions. Due to ONC's complex land use history, many invasive species have found their way into the preserve. The staff and volunteers at ONC work tirelessly to monitor and remove these species throughout the property, with a special focus on mustards such as dyer's woad and hoary cress, thistles such as Scotch, Canada, and yellow star, and wetland invasives like phragmites and purple loosestrife. They are always on the lookout for new invaders to prevent the problem before it occurs. By removing invasive species, ONC makes space for native and more favorable plant species.

When removing invasive species from an area, it is equally important to revegetate, especially if the invasive population is well established. Native seed banks can be depleted over time if they cannot grow and reproduce due to invasive competition. At ONC, revegetation is a crucial part of the process. We actively plant and care for hundreds of plants each year, including wild grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and wetland species. We also seed their fields every fall with different native seed mixes in each of their primary habitats.

This project is made possible with funding from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Utah Native Pollinator Habitat

The world is currently experiencing a decline in pollinating species, which includes butterflies, moths, bees, beetles, and others. The main reasons behind this decline are habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change. This not only affects the natural habitats but also agriculture and ecosystem functions. Moreover, it affects people as many enjoy these colorful and unique critters.

At ONC, we are committed to combating the loss of pollinator species and their habitat. To achieve this, we applied for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Utah Native Pollinator Habitat Program over the past two years and received almost 600 native pollinating species. These species were hand-grown by collaborating greenhouses across the state, and each species was selected based on its habitat value, climate resilience, and suitability for each Utah region. The species include grasses like Great Basin wild rye and little bluestem, flowers like milkweed, penstemons, and globemallows, and others.

We have established two pollinator habitat areas on the preserve, and both have seen an increase in bumblebees, Monarch butterflies, and milkweed beetles. As a result, ONC has become a pollinating paradise!

Beaver Dam Analogs and Beaver Coexistence

Beavers were once heavily persecuted and almost hunted to extinction in the United States. Removing beavers from ecosystems has drastically altered waterways, resulting in habitat degradation and increasing drought effects, particularly in the West. However, scientists and land managers now recognize the benefits that beavers and beaver dams bring to an ecosystem and are working towards coexistence with these charming rodents through research and collaboration.

Beaver dams act as a natural filtration system for waterways, trapping sediment loaded with nutrients, contaminants, and trash, slowing water flow to decrease erosion, spreading water out to reconnect floodplains, and acting as a natural fire-break on the landscape. Dams also create dynamic habitats that benefit many other wildlife species, including birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, and more. However, beavers may not be present in all habitats, and some areas may not be feasible for coexisting with beavers. In such cases, man-made beaver dams, also known as beaver dam analogs (BDAs), can be built to mimic the effects of beavers and bring the benefits of dams to an ecosystem.

ONC has installed five beaver dam analogs along the Southern half of the Plain City Canal to improve water quality and quantity. These BDAs help filter water, collect trash, and provide habitat for wildlife at ONC. The center also happily coexists with naturally occurring beaver populations that utilize the streams, wetlands, and ponds at ONC. More BDA projects are planned for the future, and people can get involved to help in this effort.

This project is made possible with funding from the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program

Water is a critical and scarce resource in Utah, which is the second driest state in the nation. At ONC, we take water seriously and work hard to ensure that our wetlands and riparian areas have adequate water to support the habitat and wildlife. We also take steps to improve the quality of the water. However, one of our riparian water sources, the Plain City Canal, faces a challenge as it must pass along 12th street, a busy highway, before entering our property. This often results in unwanted liquids and debris being picked up from the street.

To address this issue, we applied for a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to restore urban waterways across Ogden City. We plan to create a new stormwater wetland at ONC where the Plain City Canal enters the property. With the help of volunteers, we will construct a filter wetland, including planting vegetation such as cattails, bulrushes, and sedges that naturally filter contaminants out of water. The water from the Plain City Canal will then be directed slowly through the wetland before continuing downstream. It will hit another filter, the beaver dam analogs, before continuing downstream. This will ensure that the water is clean by the time it flows beyond our property.

In addition to creating the wetland, we will collaborate with several partners, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ogden City, Weber State University, YMCA of Northern Utah, DaVinci Academy, and more, to conduct community river cleanup projects along the Ogden and Weber Rivers. Our goal is to improve the health of our watershed and spread awareness among the community about the importance of preserving our water resources.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Urban Bird Treaty Program

The Urban Bird Treaty (UBT) program is a federal initiative that helps cities preserve bird habitats, promote community engagement in bird-related activities, and support bird conservation efforts in urban and suburban areas. Ogden City has been designated as a UBT city multiple times, including in 2011, which contributed to the Ogden River Restoration project. In 2022, the Ogden Nature Center led the effort to seek redesignation as a UBT city by demonstrating our commitment to the environment, the community, and bird conservation. Alongside a few other cities dedicated to conservation, Ogden City is now back in action. Learn more about these cities.

This designation opens up opportunities and funding for bird conservation, research, habitat restoration, and educational outreach projects. In addition, this designation also supports other projects such as the NFWF Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration program (mentioned above) and the Motus Station (mentioned below).

Motus Station

The Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) is a global collaboration of researchers who use automated radio telemetry to study the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Birds Canada leads the Motus program in partnership with other researchers and organizations. The system tracks the migration patterns of flying species such as birds, bats, butterflies, and dragonflies. The data collected helps conservation researchers better understand migration patterns, behavior, and habitat use.

In the autumn of 2023, the Ogden Nature Center (ONC), in collaboration with Weber State University College of Science and Tracy Aviary, installed a 30-foot Motus station near the ONC Education Building. Tracy Aviary, supported by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, has built several stations in Utah to better understand migration corridors and stop-over habitats. Each station has a detection range of at least 15 kilometers and continuously records GPS data from the radio transmitters attached to the animals. This allows researchers to determine which direction the animals are traveling and how much time they spend in certain areas.

The installation of the Motus station at ONC contributes to continent-wide conservation efforts and solidifies Ogden's status as a federally recognized Urban Bird Treaty City. Additionally, it presents several research opportunities for ONC and Weber State University. In the future, researchers plan to deploy transmitters on selected species to study their behaviors, territories, and migration routes.


In 2022, Chromalox, a thermal engineering company, approached the Ogden Nature Center (ONC) to form a partnership to restore five acres of grassland habitats at the Preserve. Thanks to this partnership, the ONC will be able to restore an area that has been heavily impacted in the Northeast corner, near Killdeer Pond. Chromalox will provide both financial and volunteer help for this project. The restoration efforts will include improving the soil biome, controlling invasive species, intensive revegetation, and in-depth monitoring studies to assess changes in the plant and animal community in the area.

With the restoration of this area, we will reduce soil compaction and runoff to improve water quality in our streams and ponds, provide habitat for native wildlife, and provide volunteer and educational outreach opportunities to the community.



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