Land Stewardship

Photo Credit: Stephen Winter

Land Stewardship

Photo Credit: Stephen Winter

We love watching prairies and oak savannas grow and flourish year after year as they respond to proper management and species enrichment. Surviving remnants of prairie and savanna are often small isolated patches which require active management to regain and remain health.

The primary means for managing TPE properties is to bring volunteers together to pull weeds, cut brush, collect seed, and do prescribed burns in what we call work parties. Work parties bring people together from all walks of life and provide opportunities for watch of us to develop personal relationships with natural communities in a hands-on way.

The Prairie Enthusiasts also sponsor work parties in conjunction with both public agencies and other private groups in managing remnants on lands owned by others through our stewardship program of prescribed burns, brush removal and exotic plant control.

There are lots of opportunities to turn your prairie enthusiasm into action! If you would like to volunteer, sign up for our E-news or contact your local Chapter.

Management activities include:

Prescribed burning  – The plant communities we focused on are fire-dependent systems. The lack of fire has contributed to the loss of these ecosystems, and TPE uses prescribed fire when possible. Effects on all components of prairies should be considered when deciding if and how often to burn. See more on TPE’s prescribed burning program and some resources.

Invasive species control
Brush and tree removal – Due to the absence of management over a long period of time, brush and trees have encroached upon most remnant prairies. Fire will have limited effects on these established woody plants, and can even be problematic with some species that re-sprout after top-killing. There are several ways to remove woody species, including cutting, judicious application of herbicide, covering and girdling, or a combination of these. Many websites that cover this topic. Some include: Pleasant Valley Conservancy (TPE members Tom and Kathy Brock) and the Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin (IPAW).

Killing unwanted forbs – These unwanted plants are primarily non-native species that are aggressive and compete with native plants. Successful eradication or reducing their impact ranges from hard to easy depending on the species. Websites with good information include: Pleasant Valley Conservancy (TPE members Tom and Kathy Brock) and the IPAW.

Organic control methods – Some methods for control do not use herbicide. Examples are: girdling can be done without herbicide, smothering, repeated mowing, severing biennials below the root crown, and pulling. Some methods do not work on some species, and some methods have some undesirable side effects (e.g., pulling disturbs the soil). Some methods are described in blog posts.

Planting prairie – Several chapters are active in planting new areas with prairie species to provide buffer zones around remnants or as replacements for lost ecosystems. To date, over 500 acres have been planted with seeds collected from local sources by TPE volunteers. Major activities include seed collecting and processing, planting, and management of new plantings.

Hunting – TPE recognizes the value of hunting as a useful management tool, and therefore we permit its use on our lands where we deem it is necessary to control overabundant or problem species. TPE also allows hunting where we deem it not to be in conflict with the goals and uses of a given property.