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Zoerb 2023 Annual Work Plan



For those interested, here is the Zoerb 2023 Work Plan which includes a work summary for 2022:


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, as is feasible, for the ecological health of the La Crosse area.


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 treeless 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.

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

3) Non-native shrub invasion in adjacent woodlands, primarily buckthorn.



OBJECTIVES (highest to lowest priority)

Objectives in order of highest to lowest priority.

1) Maintain the remnant prairie as an open prairie as free of trees and shrubs as possible.

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. 2023 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, starting in late May, cut and treat undesirable woody vegetation, 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.


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 .

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 first buffer in late fall or early winter.





III. Management Record Keeping (from Management Plan)


Site stewards for the Property for 2023 will be Jon Rigden and Jim Rogala. The stewards will keep records of all management activities. All management activities must be reported to the steward for record keeping.


Summary of 2022:


2022 was a productive year on Zoerb Prairie, as documented on the attached spread sheet. A total of 479 volunteer hours were spent working on the prairie. Contracted services from Ridge and Coulee Conservation, LLC included 80 hours for a Stry grant of $2000 matched by the City for a total of $4000 for work on the west edge cutting down previously girdled dead aspen, cutting and treating brush and trees on the upper east as well as above Birch Trail. Foliar spraying around the second buffer of the entire prairie was done as part of the contract. Therefore, in 2022, a total of 559 hours of combined volunteer and contractor work was done.


Accomplishments included burning several brush piles in the early and late months of 2022, improving the quality of the intact prairie and buffers by cutting and treating undesirable woody vegetation such as buckthorn and black locust as well as by cutting sumac and aspen growing on the prairie without the use of herbicide. Herbicide was used very cautiously on the intact prairie for cut and treat and was 20% triclopyr 4 (Garlon 4) in bark oil. When black locust was treated on the intact prairie, aminopyralid (Milestone) was added to the triclopyr 4 in bark oil at 1.7 oz per liter. Several trees, living and dead, were removed in the first and second buffers along the upper east and west edges to expand and to increase the sunlight in the buffers. Foliar spraying with triclopyr 3 (Garlon 3), 3 oz per gallon, aminopyralid 0.5 oz per gallon (for better control of black locust), with surfactant 1 oz per gallon and added dye was done in the second buffer and a small part of the outside edge of the first buffer. Efforts were again directed at a large black locust clone in the surrounding woods, the first and second buffers, and invading into the intact prairie, though this clone is now considerably less evident than the previous year. Several brush piles were made for future burning. Two patches of crown vetch that had been previously identified were followed and found to be much smaller. These were again controlled by pulling and a small amount of foliar spraying with clopyralid (Transline) herbicide. Seed was collected from the prairie in the fall and dispersed on 12/8/22 into the first buffer, especially around 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. A late fall burn was done on 12/4/22 by the Coulee Region Chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts with Justin Nooker the burn boss, line bosses being Jared Van der Loop and Pat Caffrey, and other members of the crew being Rigden, Katie Hahn, O’Brien, Sunshine Love, Huffman, Scott Cooper, Rob Kretz. Connie Weedman observed the burn.




List of prairie plant species found during plant surveys starting in 2019.


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 Species: 56





Zoerb Prairie Work Hours 2022

Date

Description

Total Hours

Cumulative Hours

1/3/22

Burned brush piles 5 on west edge, 5 on east. Rigden, O'Brien, Huffman, Vanderloop 7 hours, Steingraeber, Hecht 5 hours, Tim Hill and his daughter Karen 3 hours. From UWL Students for Sustainability, Emma Jonas, Emilie Potocki, Ben Zess, Thana Zoske, Jake Myers, Dylan Baldassari all 4 hours

84

84

1/29/22

Burned brush piles: UWL students- Samantha Lyons, Grace, Erica and Jake Myers all 2 hours. Allan Beatty 4 hours, Rigden, Hecht, Huffman, and O'Brien all 5 hours

32

116

2/17/22

Rigden (with Jared)- burned one brush pile below cliff west side and cut a few downed trees

2

118

3/8/22

Rigden cut and treat steep area above cliff edge- 3 hours

3

121

3/9/22

Rigden 4 hrs, B Deetz, Huffman 2.5 hrs cut and treat steep area above cliff edge

9

130

3/12/22

Rigden, Vander Loop, Huffman, Hecht burned brush piles below cliff edge- 4 hrs

16

146

4/12/22

Rigden cut several trees and piled upper east- 4 hrs

4

150

4/15/22

Rigden (with Jared working on contract) 5 hours upper east, then west below cliff- 5 hours

5

155

4/28/22

Rigden cut trees and buckthorn upper east- 3.5 hours

3.5

158.5

4/28/22

Rigden, O'Brien, Hecht with After Hours Rotary- Katelyn Doyle, Stephanie Doyle, Neil, and Eileen- 2 hours

14

172.5

5/23/22

Rigden- foliar sprayed small woody plants steep area above cliff, east to about 2/3rds of way west- triclopyr 3, 3 oz/gallon, Milestone 0.5 oz/gallon with surfactant and blue dye. Used about 3.0 gallons. 2.5 hours

2.5

175

5/24/22

Rigden and O'Brien foliar sprayed (same as above)- finished area above cliff, then below cliff midway to the west and up west side. Used about 4.5 gallons.

4

183

5/28/22

Rigden- cut and treat around top and spur trail, then joined Jared cutting and piling dead aspen on west edge- 5 hrs

5

188

6/7/22

Rigden- Cut and treat upper prairie- 4 hrs

4

192

6/10/22

Rigden, O'Brien, worked with Blake Olson and Jared cutting and stacking dead trees on west edge, cutting and treating woodies on west edge then central edge of prairie on the top of the steep area above the cliff edge- 4 hrs, but won't count Jared's since he's on contract

12

204

6/17/22

Rigden, Blake Olson, O'Brien cut and treat steep area above cliff 5.5 hrs, Scott Cooper and Wilson 4.5 hrs, Huffman 3 hours. Jared and Trevor worked on contract foliar spraying east side, their hrs not recorded

28.5

232.5

6/24/22

Rigden, O'Brien, Olson cut and treat lower edge along top of steep area- 4 hours

12

244.5

6/29/22

Rigden, Rogala cut/pulled sumac and aspen- 2 hours

4

248.5

7/1/22

Rigden, Hecht, O'Brien, Olson 7-12 Cut sweet clover and Canada thistle, cut and treat lower slope above cliff. Hoffman and Wilson joined for 2 hours. Jared and Trevor foliar sprayed on contract, so hours not recorded.

24

272.5

7/21/22

Rigden with WisCorp- Luke, Roman, Sopojia, Greg. Organized brush piles for burning. 9-1, 4 hours.

20

292.5

7/22/22

Rigden, O'Brien- 7-12, Blake and Holly Pierro 9-12. Jared on contract, 7-2, so hours not included in total. Foliar sprayed beneath cliff, and around perimeter (Jared). O'Brien and Holly worked on brush piles.

16

308.5

7/29/22

Rigden, Blake, Jared (on contract)- cleared area along the upper east near trail- 5 hours

10

318.5

8/3/22

Rigden- cut and treat lower west above cliff black locust, etc- 4.5 hrs

4.5

323

8/5/22

Rigden 7-11, O'Brien, Blake, (with Jared on contract), 7-12, cut and treat above Birch Trail

14

337

8/8/22

O'Brien, Blake, and Jared (on contract) 7-12, cut and treat above Birch trail

10

347

8/9/22

Rigden, Jared (on contract)- foliar above Birch Trail and down west side to bottom, then around entire buffer back to top on east. 10:30-2:30

4

351

8/23/22

Rigden- cut and treat small woodies around prarie- 4 hours

4

355

9/15/22

Rigden with son Walter cut and treat upper prairie area- 2 hours

4

359

9/30/22

Rigden cut and treat west edge and lower west around cliff edge- 4 hours

4

363

10/7/22

Rigden, Rogala, O'Brien, Weedman, Huffman seed collecting- 2 hours

10

373

10/17/22

Rigden, O'Brien, Wilson cut and treat east edge of prairie towards small remnant- 3 hours

9

382

10/24/22

Rigden seed collecting- 2 hours

2

384

10/28/22

Rigden and Wilson- cut and treat stragglers on mian prairie- 2.5 hours

5

389

11/1/22

Rigden marked burn breaks for upcoming burn with Nooker, then brush cut break around refugia- 1 hour with Nooker, then 1 hour Rigden alone

3

392

11/6/22

Rigden with Walter Rigden moved brush piles off prairie below cliff west side and added to lower piles- 2 hours.

4

396

11/19/22

Rigden, O'Brien 6 hours, Huffamn 4 hours, Micheel 2 hours burning brush piles along west edge

18

414

11/21/22

Rigden cut and treat lower east where small remnant is- 3 hours

3

417

12/4/22

Nooker, Vander Loop, Hahn, Rigden, Caffrey, O'Brien, Love, Huffman, Cooper, Rob Kretz, Connie Weedman. Prescribed burn. Nooker burn boss. 4 hours.

44

461

12/8/22

Rigden and Wilson dispersed seed- one hour

2

463

12/20/22

Rigden, O'Brien, Kathryn Heitbrink, Huffman burned 4 brush piles above Birch Trail- 4 hours

16

479


So, a total of 479 volunteer hours were spent on Zoerb in 2022!


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