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Unusual grass along Greenway is barley

I was riding on the Greenway between Ashland and Phoenix and couldn’t help but notice the grasses that are growing there. What type of grass was planted? It’s coming in thick and tall and maybe it was chosen to outcompete the blackberries. The seed heads look unlike any grass I’ve seen.

― Doug

The unusual grass growing along the Bear Creek Greenway is more often found in farm fields than next to walking, jogging and biking paths.

That’s because the grass you see is barley, according to Jackson County Roads and Parks Program Manager Steve Lambert.

Seeding the Greenway with barley is part of efforts to restore the area after the September 2020 Almeda fire, while also controlling the amount of flammable vegetation that grows back.

“It was recommended by restoration botanists, as it is fast-establishing and will not invade, or take over,” he said. “It will last this year, primarily working to stabilize the soil and keep invasive species at bay while native plants get a foothold. It seems to be doing its job well.”

Although grass is flammable, the hope is the barley will help crowd out even more dangerous fuels.

“I have spoken with many fire officials, and they are very glad to have the grass in place this year instead of berries and hemlock, as it provides far less fuel for future fires,” Lambert said.

The Greenway has long been plagued by invasive blackberry thickets that look lush and green, but have thickets of dried canes hiding under the top layer of leaves.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com.