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
- 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.
- 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 ….
Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum
Added in 2021:
Hairy grama- Bouteloua hirsta
Prairie forbs, shrubs, vines
Rough false foxglove
Lyre-leaved rock cress
Short green milkweed
Sky blue aster
Purple prairie clover
Grooved yellow flax
Pale spiked lobelia
Smooth cliff brake
Great Plains lady's-tresses
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
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
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
Rigden (with Jared)- burned one brush pile below cliff west side and cut a few downed trees
Rigden cut and treat steep area above cliff edge- 3 hours
Rigden 4 hrs, B Deetz, Huffman 2.5 hrs cut and treat steep area above cliff edge
Rigden, Vander Loop, Huffman, Hecht burned brush piles below cliff edge- 4 hrs
Rigden cut several trees and piled upper east- 4 hrs
Rigden (with Jared working on contract) 5 hours upper east, then west below cliff- 5 hours
Rigden cut trees and buckthorn upper east- 3.5 hours
Rigden, O'Brien, Hecht with After Hours Rotary- Katelyn Doyle, Stephanie Doyle, Neil, and Eileen- 2 hours
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
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.
Rigden- cut and treat around top and spur trail, then joined Jared cutting and piling dead aspen on west edge- 5 hrs
Rigden- Cut and treat upper prairie- 4 hrs
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
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
Rigden, O'Brien, Olson cut and treat lower edge along top of steep area- 4 hours
Rigden, Rogala cut/pulled sumac and aspen- 2 hours
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.
Rigden with WisCorp- Luke, Roman, Sopojia, Greg. Organized brush piles for burning. 9-1, 4 hours.
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.
Rigden, Blake, Jared (on contract)- cleared area along the upper east near trail- 5 hours
Rigden- cut and treat lower west above cliff black locust, etc- 4.5 hrs
Rigden 7-11, O'Brien, Blake, (with Jared on contract), 7-12, cut and treat above Birch Trail
O'Brien, Blake, and Jared (on contract) 7-12, cut and treat above Birch trail
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
Rigden- cut and treat small woodies around prarie- 4 hours
Rigden with son Walter cut and treat upper prairie area- 2 hours
Rigden cut and treat west edge and lower west around cliff edge- 4 hours
Rigden, Rogala, O'Brien, Weedman, Huffman seed collecting- 2 hours
Rigden, O'Brien, Wilson cut and treat east edge of prairie towards small remnant- 3 hours
Rigden seed collecting- 2 hours
Rigden and Wilson- cut and treat stragglers on mian prairie- 2.5 hours
Rigden marked burn breaks for upcoming burn with Nooker, then brush cut break around refugia- 1 hour with Nooker, then 1 hour Rigden alone
Rigden with Walter Rigden moved brush piles off prairie below cliff west side and added to lower piles- 2 hours.
Rigden, O'Brien 6 hours, Huffamn 4 hours, Micheel 2 hours burning brush piles along west edge
Rigden cut and treat lower east where small remnant is- 3 hours
Nooker, Vander Loop, Hahn, Rigden, Caffrey, O'Brien, Love, Huffman, Cooper, Rob Kretz, Connie Weedman. Prescribed burn. Nooker burn boss. 4 hours.
Rigden and Wilson dispersed seed- one hour
Rigden, O'Brien, Kathryn Heitbrink, Huffman burned 4 brush piles above Birch Trail- 4 hours
So, a total of 479 volunteer hours were spent on Zoerb in 2022!