Passers-by on Camp Polk Road during the first part of the summer will see a swath of black plastic along the edge of the Camp Polk Meadow Preserve below.
The plastic was laid last week as part of an Oregon State University Cascades project, in partnership with the Deschutes Land Trust (DLT), to eradicate cheatgrass in the Hindman Springs area of the preserve.
The process, known as "solarization," uses heat to kill a seedbed of unwanted grasses, like cheatgrass. First, the soil is tilled, then wetted down. Plastic sheeting is spread over the ground to bake and kill underlying grasses and seeds.
The process has been tested in small experimental plots on the preserve; this is the first full-scale implementation.
Ashely Burry-Trice, DLT land steward, supervised a crew from an OSU Cascades ecological restoration class. The students hail from OSU, Humbolt State and the University of Washington. The students wielded rakes and wrestled a tiller to prepare the soil on Friday.
According to Burry-Trice, once the plastic is pulled, there will be a swath of bare ground left behind which can be planted with desirable natives.
"It'll be ugly for a little while, but not too long," she said.
Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a 151-acre meadow near Sisters. In 2000, Deschutes Land Trust partnered with Portland General Electric to purchase the property. In 2011, DLT added another six acres to the meadow, called the Pond Addition.