Prairie Park updates

The survey work as planned for the project has been completed. Researchers are assessing data to develop recommendations for recovery. We will visit the prairie again in late summer. We will continue to post further updates here, with the most recent the top.

June 20, 2024

Report #4: Nathaniel Weickert and Caleb Morse monitored the prairie over a three-day period (June 18–20) and noted a good persistence of species but definitely reduced cover of forbs (herbaceous flowering plants other than grasses). In sprayed areas, which were still identifiable, certain plants such as compass plant were more dense than usual. While there was more grass coverage overall than in the past—though unsprayed areas are less grassy—there was a persistence of species with a high coefficient of conservatism, those that indicate high-quality prairie. Several species of note were echinacea, bastard toadflax, prairie phlox and New Jersey tea; the latter two had recovered better than expected, given their appearance the previous year. Prairie violet also was present; this species has insect associations (regal fritillary butterflies feed on it). The presence of plants providing multiple food sources for pollinators is beneficial for insect diversity and general animal diversity. Researchers will compile and assess data to determine the needs of the site and make recommendations for recovery.

Sept. 27, 2023

Report #3: Researchers completed their last 2023 survey of the remnant prairie. They are compiling the data and doing preliminary analysis to see what the effect of the herbicide application has been on selected species and will return in early June 2024 to survey the recovery. At that time they will determine the needs of the site and make recommendations for recovery. The researchers appreciate the great support of the community and the staff at Prairie Park Nature Center and continue to hope for the best. See Sept. 27 photos.

July 28, 2023

Report #2: Researchers completed the second round of surveys. The effect of spraying on the landscape is still very noticeable, with a much more diverse and colorful assemblage of flowers present in the areas where the herbicide application was incomplete or absent. Many of the plants that we observed in May to be only damaged by the spray were still alive during this survey. Time will tell if these plants persist into the following year, but their continued presence on the landscape is a heartening sign. While it is still too early for us to draw any conclusions about the long-term effect this spraying event will have, we continue to be cautiously optimistic about the recovery of the plant community. See July 28 photos.

May 31, 2023

Report #1: Initial surveys of the Prairie Park Nature Center remnant have been completed. There were some observations of resprouting among our hardier prairie species, and several species seem to have only been lightly affected by the herbicide spraying. This, combined with incomplete coverage of the spraying at the site, gives us some hope for, at the very least, a partial recovery. However, at this time it is too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term effects of the spraying. We will return to sample in July and September this year and again next June, at which point we will be able to look at the recovery of the plant community and determine what measures are needed to assist the prairie in its recovery.

May 22, 2023

Initial overview: Researchers Sara Baer, Kelly Kindscher, Caleb Morse and Nathaniel Weickert met at the prairie remnant for baseline monitoring and to develop a plan for monitoring throughout the season. Morse very recently had developed a list of native and invasive species at the site; with minor revisions, this list will be used for monitoring the site following the spraying. See May 22 photos.