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2024 Annual Work Plan for Zoerb Prairie


I.     Review of Management Plan Goals, Threats/Concerns and Objectives

 

GOAL

 

Primary

- The overriding management goal for the Property is to recover and maintain as much of the site’s original prairie ecosystems for the ecological health of the La Crosse area, while providing areas around the edges into which the prairie can expand.

 

Secondary

- Preserve the remnant as an outstanding example of a unique native ecosystem, serving as one of several  “showcase prairies” in Hixon Forest and the surrounding bluffs.

- To provide habitat for native species that are associated with grassland/prairie ecosystems and preserve the genetic and biological diversity that is found in that ecosystem.

- For the benefit of current and future generations so they may experience, enjoy, and learn from such natural areas.

 

 

THREATS/CONCERNS (highest to lowest)

1)    Woody species invasion, including both native and non-native trees and shrubs, especially common buckthorn, honeysuckle, and Oriental bittersweet.

2)    Non-native invasive grasses and forbs on the prairie and adjacent woodlands. 

 

 

OBJECTIVES (highest to lowest priority)

1)    Maintain the remnant prairie as an open prairie as free of shrubs as possible with only a few selected trees, usually bur oaks.

2)    The prairie should be as free of non-native species as possible.

3)    Expand the prairie into adjacent areas where possible defined as the first buffer by continuing to disperse seed into this area.

4)    Maintain a second buffer of low canopy cover woodlands as free of invasive species as possible, especially berry producing plants, and to possibly include as a long term goal the creation of a savanna working from below the lower prairie and buffer down to Hickory Trail. A combination of cut and treat and foliar spray will be used in the second buffer.

 

 

II.  2024 Management Needs and Methods

(Suggested method details are in the Management Plan)

 

A.   Control non-clonal trees and brush with cut and treat (listed in order of priority)

1.     On the central prairie, cut and treat undesirable woody vegetation when conditions are favorable, but favor late fall and winter when damage from trampling is least likely. Woody vegetation on the central prairie should be relatively sparse at this point in the restoration effort. This work should be done by experienced practitioners and with very careful use of herbicides to prevent collateral damage. Cuttings can be left in place.

2.     Continue to improve the quality of the first buffer with the goal to continue to expand the prairie into this buffer by dispersing seed collected from the central prairie while cutting and treating undesired woody plants. Cutting and treating can be done any time of year by volunteer groups except early spring is usually avoided and, as on the central prairie, should be done with careful use of herbicide.

3.     Continue to improve the extent and quality of the second buffer by cutting and treating, especially close berry producing plants, as well as with selective foliar spraying. Removal of dead aspen on the upper edge near Birch Trail and previously girdled as well as other trees on the upper east can be done any time during the year.

4.     Consider slowly expanding the lower second buffer with a long term possible goal to form a savanna extending to Hickory Trail.

 

B.    Control aspen clones

1.     Girdle any remaining large stems in May, with a few known isolated trees still present below the central area of the cliff.

2.     Monitor the central prairie for stems and consider a double cut around July 1 and August 1.

C.    Control sumac clones

1.     Monitor the central prairie and buffers and consider a double cut around July 1 and August 1 if felt to be needed, though there is very little sumac left at this point.

 

D.   Control Black Locust

1.   Monitor for new resprouts and use cut and treat on the central prairie and first buffer, and cut and treat, basal bark, or foliar treatment in the second buffer and into the surrounding woods to control. Consider adding Milestone to triclopyr for black locust.

2.   Monitor for any missed large stems that are part of clone in the surrounding woods.

 

E.    Control Crown vetch

1.     Monitor for vetch along the trail at the top and the one clone below.

2.     Carefully treat with clopyralid (Transline), or if very little then repeatedly pull.

 

F.    Seed collection and planting

1.     Collect seed mostly in the fall, but consider other times of year as well for plants producing seeds earlier in the year.

2.     Broadcast the seed into the first buffer in late fall or early winter.

 

G.  A prescribed burn is planned for the fall/winter of 2024

 

 

III. Management Record Keeping (from Management Plan)

 

Site steward for the Property for 2024 will be Jon Rigden.  The steward will keep records of all management activities. All management activities must be reported to the steward for record keeping.

 

Summary of 2023:

 

2023 was a productive year on Zoerb Prairie, as documented on the attached spread sheet. A total of 183.5 volunteer hours were spent working on the prairie.

 

 

Accomplishments included burning several brush piles in the early months of 2023, improving the quality of the intact prairie and buffers by cutting and treating undesirable woody vegetation such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, Oriental bittersweet, and black locust. Herbicide was used very cautiously on the intact prairie for cut and treat with Buckthorn Blasters and was 20% triclopyr 4 in bark oil. Several dead aspen trees were removed above Birch Trail. Crown vetch along Birch Trail was pulled by hand. Seed was collected from the prairie in the fall and dispersed on 12/30/23 into the first buffer on the top of the prairie on both sides of the spur and Birch trails, but also along the first buffer along the east and west sides.

 

Note that cylindrical blazing star seeds were collected from Vista Prairie in the fall of 2023 and dispersed in December, and pasqueflower seeds from Lookout in the spring of 2023 and dispersed along the upper spur trail and lower cliff edge. In 2022, compass-plant seeds were collected on Lookout and dispersed in the fall of 2022 in the central prairie area.


 

List of prairie plant species found during plant surveys starting in 2019- no new species added in 2023.

 

Prairie grasses, sedges ….


Big bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem

Andropogon scoparius

Prairie brome

Bromus kalmii

Canada rye

Elymus canadensis

Northern dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Porcupine grass

Hesperostipa spartea

Scribner's Panic

Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum

Indian grass

Side-oats grama

June grass

 

Added in 2021:

Hairy grama- Bouteloua hirsta


Total

11

 

 

 

 



 Prairie forbs, shrubs, vines


Rough false foxglove

Leadplant

Amorpha canescens

Hog-peanut

Amphicarpaea bracteata

Thimbleweed

Anemone cylindrica

Pussytoes

Antennaria plantiginifolia

Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis

Lyre-leaved rock cress

Arabis lyrata

Common milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Butterfly milkweed

Whorled milkweed

Asclepias verticillata

Short green milkweed

Asclepias viridiflora

Heath aster

Aster ericoides

Aromatic aster

Aster oblongifolius

Sky blue aster

Aster oolentangiensis

Silky aster

Aster sericeus

Field thistle

Harebell

Companula rotundifolia

Coreopsis

Coreopsis palmata

Purple prairie clover

Dalea purpureum

Illinois tick-trefoil

Desmodium illinoensis

Daisy fleabane

Erigeron strigosus

Tall boneset

Eupatorium altissimum

Flowering spurge

Euphorbia corollata

Northern bedstraw

Galium boreale

Pale-leaved sunflower

Helianthus strumosus

Alumroot

Heuchera richardsonii

False boneset

Kuhnia eupatorioides

Rough blazing-star

Liatris aspera

Grooved yellow flax

Linum sulcatum

Hoary puccoon

Lithospermum canescens

Pale spiked lobelia

Lobelia spicata

Wild bergamot

Monarda fustulosa

Ragwort

Packera paupercula

Smooth cliff brake

Pellaea glabella

Whorled milkwort

Jeweled shooting-star

Primula fassettii

Mountain mint

Pycnanthemum virginianum

Yellow coneflower

Ratibida pinnata

Rose

Rosa

Small skullcap

Scutellaria leonardii

Blue-eyed grass

Sisyrinchium campestre

Field goldenrod

Solidago nemoralis

Stiff goldenrod

Solidago rigida

Cliff goldenrod

Solidago sciaphila

Showy goldenrod

Solidago speciosa

Great Plains lady's-tresses

Spiranthes magnicamporum

Hoary vervain

Verbena stricta

Birds-foot violet

Viola pedate

White camass

Zigadenus elegans

 

Added in 2021:

 

1.     Nodding Wild Onion: Allium cernuum

2.     Carolina Larkspur:

Delphinium  carolianum var virescens

3.     Naked Broomrape: Orobanche uniflora

4.     Prairie Violet: Viola pedatifida

 

            

Added in 2022:

 

1.     Cream Gentian: Gentiana flavidas (alba)

2.     Fringed puccoon:

Lithospermum incisum


 

 

 

 

Total

56

 

 

 

                 Zoerb Prairie Work Hours 2023

Date

Description

Total Hours

Cumulative Hours

1/6/23

Rigden and Huffman brush piles burned below cliff- 3 piles. 6 hours

12

12

1/15/23

Rigden cut and treat (Triclopyr 4 in bark oil, 20%, using Buckthorn Blaster, less than one bottle) along cliff- 3 hours

3

15

1/22/23

Burn brush piles upper east x 5- Rigden, O'Brien, Hecht, Huffman, Mark Brumm, Aaron Olson, Chris Paquette, 4 hours

28

43

2/4/23

Rigden, Huffman brush piles burned- 3 southeast lower edge, 2 below cliff. 6.5 hours

13

56

4/13/23

Rigden- Cut down several small trees and dead aspen, previously girdled, above Birch Trail

2

58

4/29/23

Rigden- Cut and treat along the central cliff edge

4

62

5/4/23

Rigden- Cut and treat as walked randomly through prairie, then especially west along and below cliff edge.

2

64

5/28/23

Rigden-Cut and treat along west edge, including a large patch of Canada thistle

5

69

5/29/23

Rigden- cut and treat along mid to lower east. Saw large timber rattlesnake possibly basking near large rock

5

74

5/31/23

Rigden- cut and treat lower east

5

79

6/2/23

Rigden,O'Brien, Lola 5 hours cut and treat lower east

15

94

6/4/23

Rigden- cut and treat lower east

3

97

6/5/23

Rigden,  Lola Baudek  7 hours, O'Brien 6 hours cut and treat lower east. Also removed the seed heads of a few clumps of Reed Canary Grass located on top near the big oak then along the west side and then sprayed with Clethodim.

20

117

6/12/23

Rigden 6 hrs, Lola and O'Brien 5 hrs-Cut and treat lower east "remnant" prairie area and sprayed reed canary patches with clethodim upper near big red oak and west first buffer area

16

133

7/7/23

Rigden- cut and treat mid to lower west first buffer. Also noted and pulled a small patch of Creeping Bellflower just to the south of Birch Trail that was above the cliff.

3

136

7/12/23

Rigden- cut and treat lower west edge. Also pulled crown vetch along Birch Trail.

3

139

7/19/23

Rigden and O'Brien cut and treat lower west buffer and prairie and a small amount on central area above the cliff- 4 hours

8

147

7/27/23

Rigden-Cut and treat upper along spur trail and lower above cliff

4

151

8/6/23

Rigden-Cut and treat lower above cliff towards east and central

3

154

8/15/23

Rigden- Cut and treat above cliff to the west, then lower to do locust- 5 hours. Saw large timber rattlesnake lower central below cliff overhang

5

159

8/30/23

Rigden, O'Brien- Cut and treat black locust aroiund perimeter of prairie and some basal bark or foliar sprayed with 20% garlon 4 in bark oil- 5.5 hours.

11

170

10/12/23

Rigden- Seed collection

2.5

172.5

10/15/23

Rigden- Cut and treat upper area above and below Birch Trail

2.5

175

12/15/23

Rigden- Cut and treat around and below cliff- 3 hrs

3

178

12/29/23

Rigden- Cut and treat 4.5 hrs around lower cliff

4.5

182.5

12/30/23

Rigden- dispersed seed upper prairie from east to west- 1 hr

1

183.5

                                                                                                                            

Zoerb Prairie on March 2024


 

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