Tom's Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brush control in the Valley Prairie

Today we worked on brush control in the Valley Prairie. This prairie is just beginning its seventh growing season and has developed into a very nice wet-mesic to dry-mesic prairie. It is separated from our wetland by a fire break which also serves as a hiking trail. Visitors get a chance to see the wet-mesic flora on one side and the wetland flora on the other.

However, the upper end of the Valley Prairie borders a road cut that was originally heavily infested with elm and walnut trees, honeysuckles, and buckthorn. All of this vegetation was removed before the Valley Prairie was planted in November 2002. Unfortunately, there is a seed bank, and we have been dealing with resprouts and new woody growth ever since. In the first several years, everything that grew up on the road cut was mowed down with brushcutters. Later, interns did some hand control, cutting and treating. Gradually, we have been winning the battle, but there are still problems, not only on the road cut, but at the level of the prairie itself.

Today four of us used Garlon 4 basal bark treatment along the bottom of this road cut. We treated lots of black raspberries, a surprising number of small honeysuckles, scattered walnuts, and the occasional buckthorn. We plan to burn the Valley Prairie sometime in the next few weeks, so getting these plants treated now was essential. (Once they are top-killed by the burn, they will no longer translocate herbicide to the roots.)

It took the four of us a bit less than 2 hours to do the work, which is a lot less time than we used to spend on the road cut. Hopefully, we'll be finished with this task in another couple of years!


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