Maintaining the delicate balance of prairie ecology in an environmentally sensitive nature preserve.
Managing and eliminating invasive species plants can be a delicate process when done alongside native species. We carried out this precision task at two Illinois nature preserves, the Romeoville Prairie and the Lockport Prairie Preserves, which are home to wetlands, floodplains, and upland prairies.
These sites also represent rare dolomite prairie zones, which occur where soil cover is thin and dolomite bedrock is at or near the surface. Dolomite prairie favors a unique plant community, including federally listed species, and so is susceptible to invasive species. Our teams exercised extreme care in the field to reduce negative effects to these fragile ecosystems. Applying herbicide to invasive plants was done individually using the “hand-wick” method of application. This greatly reduced the possibility of mortality of any non-targeted species.
In less sensitive areas, the crews were able to employ treatments including mowing, foliar spraying—applied to leaves, and basal bark spraying—applied to stems of invasive plants. With a sensitive and strategic approach to managing invasive species, visitors to the Preserves will enjoy seeing them in a more pristine state.
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