Boots On The Ground Conservation

Newsroom

  • Invasive Species List

    http://www.kingcounty.gov/~/media/environment/animalsAndPlants/noxious_weeds/imagesT_V/teasel-dipsacus-fullonum-infestation-FML-smfile.ashx?la=en

    Invasive plants displace native plant species, reduce wildlife habitat and damage natural ecosystems. They threaten natural areas and parks and spread via roadways, rivers and trails. In the United States, they cost an estimated $34 billion annually in economic loss.

    Here is a good list of invasive plants to look out for. Its from Virginia which applies generally to northwest Illinois and, unfortunately, may indicate things to come.

    If you're interested, here is their invasive species management plan. Good luck Virginaia.

  • Natural Areas Have Intrinsic Value

    Cladium mariscoides in a SE Wisconsin calcareous fen.

    Cladium mariscoides in a SE Wisconsin calcareous fen

    Much of the conservation community’s current approach to conservation planning is a commodification of nature. Lands are valued according to laundry lists of the tangible services (e.g. water quality protection, forage, carbon storage) they provide. We might not assign actual dollars to such services, but we’re certainly thinking about cash for services.

    …and sometimes that’s fine.

  • Does Plant Diversity Matter?

    2013 photos from

    How important is plant diversity in restored prairies? Are diverse prairies more resistant to drought and invasive species? How does plant diversity influence invertebrate communities?

    The plots above, from left to right, were planted to a monoculture (big bluestem), a low diversity mixture (mostly grasses and a few late season wildflowers) and a high diversity mixture (100 plant species).  TNC is investigating the functional differences between these kinds of plant communities. The plots are 3/4 acre and represent varying levels of plant diversity. Researchers from the University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, the University of Illinois, and Simpson College have been involved in data collection efforts so far.

    Stay tuned.

  • European bison lived in grasslands, not forests

    Paleontologists examined the oldest known bones of bison from Europe. Their research revealed that European Bison were “mixed eaters” who preferred open landscapes to a life in the forest. These findings have a direct impact on the current conservation concept for these animals, which are threatened with extinction.

    Until now it was assumed that the European Bison -- in contrast to its steppe-dwelling relatives in North America -- primarily thrive in forests. Based on the examination of isotopes from the age-old bones of the large mammals, Bocherens and his colleague, Prof. Dr. Rafal Kowalczyk of the "Mammal Research Institute" in Białowieża, Poland were able to verify that European Bison were "mixed eaters." "The ratio of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones indicates that the bison's diet in the early Holocene included leaves as well as grasses and lichens.Until now it was assumed that the European Bison -- in contrast to its steppe-dwelling relatives in North America -- primarily thrive in forests. Based on the examination of isotopes from the age-old bones of the large mammals, Bocherens and his colleague, Prof. Dr. Rafal Kowalczyk of the "Mammal Research Institute" in Białowieża, Poland were able to verify that European Bison were "mixed eaters." "The ratio of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones indicates that the bison's diet in the early Holocene included leaves as well as grasses and lichens.

    Read more...

  • Sky Island Grasslands

    http://www.nfwf.org/skyisland/PublishingImages/SkyIslandsAZ-5.jpg

    In the border region between Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico, a little known landscape supports a unique mix of temperate and subtropical ecosystems, the likes of which are found nowhere else in the United States. Read more...

  • EARTH: A New Wild

    Did you watch the second episode of "Earth: A New Wild" on Public Television? If you missed it, you can see "Episode 2: Plains" here. I watched it, and while I was glad for the attention paid to grasslands, I also had some concerns about the content.

    It is very difficult for the public to know what information is based on good science and what is not. I felt this episode led people to believe that the strategies it advocated were better supported by science than they really are. Read more...

  • Looking Past the Ugly Spots

    Hoary vervain (purple) helps trace the outline of this ugly patch, which is also filled with species such as sweet clover, tall dropseed, and Kentucky bluegrass.

    Much of our restored prairies are full of color and beauty throughout the growing season.  It’s a pleasure to walk through them. However, not every square foot is lush and beautiful. In fact, some areas are pretty ugly, dominated by weeds or bare ground. Luckily, our objective is not to create pretty flower gardens. Read more...

  • It’s Not Always Pretty

    Farmland Restoration

    My project’s big goal is to restore the farmland that APR owns to native prairie so that it can function in the ecosystem again. The process will reintroduce a wide range of vegetation to the sites, change the soil over from furrows, and create important food sources for wildlife and pollinators. Along the way, we have mini goals that we need to reach, from getting crops established and smoothing out the soils to finally establishing the diverse mixes of grasses, shrubs and wildflowers that make a mixed-grass prairie work.

  • What do you see here?

    Can you name this wildflower?  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

    Understand, that is not a simple question. See discussion of fire, cows, mice and this plant here.