Green-banded mariposa lily on Rowena Plateau. Photo by Emily Matson

Green-banded mariposa lily on Rowena Plateau. Photo by Emily Matson

A late bloomer, the green banded mariposa lily (Calochortus macrocarpus ) thrills when it finally emerges. The purple-pink petals pop against the sandy hues of the arid western landscapes that are its preferred habitat. Those who happen upon one are stopped in their tracks….as Stewardship Coordinator Emily Matson was this July 19 on the Rowena Plateau near Mosier, Oregon.

Matson was walking a piece of land we call the Rowena Oakarie, a 17-acre privately owned property. Back in 1997, when development threatened this rare oak woodland, the landowner placed a conservation easement on this property that prevents any structures from being built and keeps cows away. Now, instead of a house or cattle, this place will hold nothing but nature, forever. Our job is to make sure the terms of the easement, which protects the land’s natural condition, are being upheld.

The easement allows native flowers like this mariposa lily to grow freely. “Not only is it a gorgeous flower, but it’s a piece of evidence that the easement is working,” says Matson.