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Restoration of Natural Areas:

Many common questions that people have regarding the restoration of natural areas can require complicated answers. Our goal here is to describe some of the important factors to consider and provide some guidance toward a solution.

Why plant native species?

Native species are adapted to grow successfully in our climate and soils as well as providing the food sources our native animals rely on. Native species don't typically spread outside their intended planting area and become very sustainable when fully established.

How do I get rid of weeds?

There are numerous organic and non-organic methods to reduce weeds. Soil contains numerous weed seeds, and more are added every week throughout the growing season. Some weeds are easier to reduce than others. Identifying and researching the specific species is required prior to implementing control methods. Typically it requires two growing seasons to reduce weed species enough to install native species from seed.

How do I attract more wildlife?

Wildlife requires both feeding and nesting/resting areas. Native species/habitats can provide both of those requirements if installed and maintained correctly. The requirements can be species specific and require a conservation plan to best achieve your goal.

How do we ensure we meet regulatory requirements?

There are numerous federal, state, and municipal regulations, especially when working in or adjacent to wetlands and open waters (ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc.). Most regulations require a permit that includes a restoration plan and follow-up performance standards. Most projects seek professional assistance.

Can I just dig a pond, fill a low area, cut the trees...?

It all depends on what regulations exist for your parcel of land. Your best bet is to start at the local level (municipal or county) and seek advice from government representatives or a consultant. See the question above as well.

How do we control site erosion?

Erosion control is site specific. Control may depend on the land slope, soil type, size of the area, time of year, and the location of nearby water resources (wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc.). Other factors include the length of time the soil will be open (exposed, bare), the amount of precipitation, and the wind speeds. There are numerous products available to reduce soil movement, including mulches, polymers, socks, fabrics, and temporary settling ponds. Many projects require an erosion control plan and weekly monitoring and reporting.

At what height should I mow my prairie?

Each mowing should be done just high enough that 90% of the native plants will not get cut, and never less than 4 inches height. Mowing either too often or not enough can create native plant establishment challenges.

When can I burn my prairie/wetland?

It really depends on the maturity of the native plants. Most native plants are mature enough after three years of growth. If most members of the native plant community are blooming, a prescribed burn can be planned with minimal loss of native species diversity and abundance.

What permits are needed for prescribed burning?

Some municipalities and townships require a permit, especially in urban environments. In rarer situations the state may also require either a permit or communication.

Will burning my field kill my scattered trees?

Generally yes, though there are native species that are tolerant (bur oak) and there are prescribed burn methods that can be employed to minimize tree damage and stress. Some woody species may top-kill and re-sprout at a later time from the base of the tree.

How do I know if I have a wetland?

A professional wetland scientist can make that determination for you. A wetland is defined by its soil, vegetation, and hydrology.

How do I know if I have a rare species?

The best way is to take pictures and write a description of the organism. Also try to describe the habitat. Take your information and search books, the internet, and herbarium databases, or consult a local native plant club, university, or county agent.

Is soil structure and fertility important?

It depends on the type of native plant community being created/restored. It is our experience that native plants will establish under minimal fertility. High fertility accelerates weed growth. Compacted and disrupted soil structure can cause challenges and should be remedied prior to restoration.

Where can I buy native seeds and plants?

The Midwest, Texas, and east coast have many suppliers. Other areas of the U.S. may be more challenging. Most web searches should provide sources.

I can't walk through my woods anymore due to all the shrubs!

There are solutions. Depending on the number of acres to be restored and the density and stem diameter of the invasive plants, there are methods to remove the above ground material and treat the root systems so they will not return. Methods range from hand blade trimmers to 100 hp forestry mulchers; with follow-up herbicide applications.

Geese are eating all the plants and polluting the water in my pond!

Geese will use ponds in seasonal migrations (usually not a problem) but can often become residents. Resident geese will eat about 7-10 lbs. of vegetation per animal per day and their defecation may lead to eutrophic pond conditions. Resident geese need to move from the water to feeding grounds (low-growing grass) without passing through tall vegetation. Maintaining tall vegetation (>4') for more than 25' all the way around the pond will often deter resident geese. Other methods include running string fences and/or spraying deterrent sprays.

Field & Stream Restorations, LLC  714 Weald Bridge Rd. Cottage Grove, WI 53527  
Solutions@FS-Restorations.com (608) 320-2338 @copyright 2012