native meadow / prairie study

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This project began in 2009 as a study site for the creation of a native Allegheny plateau meadow / Ohio tallgrass prairie. The site is an abandoned gravel quarry in Russell Township, Ohio and was chosen because the conditions are harsh and it was severely compromised by invasive species. The goal is to test native plant selections and their ability to grow in exposed, droughty conditions. Having been left fallow for 60-70 years, the growing conditions are extremely poor with virtually no topsoil present. Two years of initial site preparation included brush hogging, shrub removal and herbicide treatment. An 8,000sf (2/10 acre) section of the quarry basin was seeded in 2011. Managing invasive species has been a challenge since, even after 2 years of site preparation, the seed bank of invasives was still strong. Gradually the invasives have been reduced as the natives have become established. Each year meadow areas are enlarged to its current 2/3 acre size. The plants have a magnetic attraction to native bees, butterflies and moths. Coyote and fox have been seen hunting within the meadow. There is an endless supply of animal activity throughout the seasons especially in late July and August when the wildflowers are at their peak. A variety of grasses and forbs are seeded in each year to better understand plant associations and determine which species may do best in a changing climate. This fieldwork has given me a better understanding of how native selections can be incorporated into the built environment.