Grant Application July 2007

Grant Application July 2007
Oak Savanna and Prairie Enhancement for At-Risk Species (York Township, Green County

At Risk Species and Status:
Threatened (1 bird, 1 plant): Henslow's sparrow, yellow giant hyssop.
Special Concern (11 birds, 2 plants): grasshopper sparrow, upland sandpiper, dickcissel, Bob-o-link, orchard oriole, black-billed cuckoo, red-headed woodpecker, brown thrasher, eastern meadowlark, field sparrow, northern harrier, American gromwell, lance-leaf tickseed. also included York Prairie SNA species since they are within 0.5 miles

Current Land Use / Habitat: A mixture of: (1) degraded oak savanna (7 ac.) with Yellow giant hyssop and American gromwell that has been undergoing restoration since 2002, including brushing, burning and weed control; (2) dry-mesic remnant prairie (2 ac.) with the uncommon plains muhly grass (Muhlenbergia cuspidata) and Wisconsin special concern lance-leaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata var. lanceolata); (3) very successful mesic and dry-mesic prairie restorations) planted in 2001 with 72 species (18 contiguous ac.); and (4) idle brome grass field (17 ac.) with relatively short, sparse cover due to thin soil. White pines were planted in the southeastern end of the brome field about 30 years ago as part of a MFL enrollment, but the trees are growing very slowly due to the thin soil and there has been some natural mortality.

Adjacent Land Use Habitat:
A mixture of moderately grazed dairy pasture (west), mixed unmanaged old field with small prairie remnant inclusions and cropland (north), and a mixture of CRP and lightly used pasture (east). Land to the south (38 ac.) is also owned by Chuck Bauer and has been undergoing active management since 2004 to restore and enhance its oak savanna and prairie remnants.

York Prairie State Natural Area is a few thousand feet north of the project site and is visible from the project site.

Current site activities
edu, restoration, research
Restoration: Property-wide, active grassland and savanna management for native biodiversity since 2001 when the mesic and dry-mesic prairie restorations were planted. Activities include prescribed burns, invasive species control, tree and shrub removal, including Rayco-mowing, and seeding with native species.

Education: Public tours of the restoration and management activities (Prairie Enthusiasts), newsletter articles (Blue Mounds Area Project), and painting workshops. Web site information on restoration activities at rareearthfarm.org.

Research: Invasive species control methods (hedge parsley, crown vetch, stinging nettle).

Other info:

The site has 2 threatened species, Henslow's sparrow and yellow giant hyssop, and 11 bird and 2 plant species that are Wisconsin special concern: grasshopper sparrow, upland sandpiper, dickcissel, Bob-o-link, orchard oriole, black-billed cuckoo, red-headed woodpecker, brown thrasher, eastern meadowlark, field sparrow, northern harrier, American gromwell, and lance-leaf tickseed. The nearby presence of York Prairie State Natural Area significantly increases the ecological value of this property, and visa versa, because of the similarity of habitats.

Oak savanna restoration has been ongoing since 2002, including removal of undesirable trees and shrubs, prescribed burns, invasive species control and overseeding. The gromwell and yellow giant hyssop spontaneously appeared in 2005 following brush clearing and burning. The prairie restoration has been very successful and is used by grassland birds, invertebrates, and other wildlife. The prairie remnant has pasque flower, prairie smoke, lead plant, prairie dropseed, flowering spurge, toadflax, spiderwort, and many other species, including the uncommon plains muhly grass and Wisconsin special concern lance-leaf tickseed.

Five acres of crown vetch was planted 15 years ago to control soil erosion in the area that is now restored prairie. It eventually spread throughout the project area, to one degree or another. While much of it was eliminated during site preparation for the prairie planting and by subsequent annual spot spraying in the other areas of the site, it still occurs in scattered locations, threatening the site's ecological quality.

Chuck Bauer has been funding restoration and management work out-of-pocket, except for some 2006 DNR funding for hedge parsley control. Award of this grant will facilitate additional work and help speed the restoration process. Mr. Bauer is exploring permanent easement options for the property so that it will remain in a natural state.

Project goal: Reduce invasive species and brush abundance in 44 acres of grassland and oak savanna to improve habitat quality for at-risk grassland and savanna birds (Henslow's sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, upland sandpiper, dickcissel, Bob-o-link, orchard oriole, black-billed cuckoo, red-headed woodpecker, brown thrasher, eastern meadowlark, field sparrow, northern harrier) and plants (yellow giant hyssop, American gromwell, lanceleaf tick-seed).

Project need: Invasive species, such as crown vetch, garlic mustard, hedge parsley, Canada thistle, sumac, box elder, elm, and prickly ash, need to be removed from the oak savanna, prairie remnant, prairie restoration, and brome grass field so that these areas will remain quality habitat (or become better habitat) for the at risk species that utilize them, particularly grassland birds, yellow giant hyssop, lanceleaf tick-seed, and American gromwell. Left unchecked, these species will spread throughout the property and onto neighboring properties.

Project objectives:
1. Spot spray crown vetch on 44 acres (oak savanna, prairie remnant, prairie restoration, brome grass field) to prevent its spread.
2. Cut and treat prickly ash, sumac and other invasive shrubs on 25 acres (brome grass field and the periphery of the oak savanna and prairie remnant) to reduce their density by at least 75%.
3. Conduct three prescribed burns totaling 27 acres (oak savanna, prairie remnant, prairie restoration).
4. Spot spray or cut herbaceous invasive species (garlic mustard, hedge parsley, burdock, etc.) in 7 acres of oak savanna to reduce their density by at least 75%.

Schedule
November 2007 - March 2008
Contractor will cut and stump-treat invasive shrubs and trees. Some species may instead be basal bark treated.
April 2008 - August 2008
Contractor and landowner will spot spray crown vetch with herbicide and mow, cut, or spot spray other invasive species, as appropriate.
Spring or Fall 2008 or Spring 2009
Contractor will conduct prescribed burns.

Future Maintenance
Maintenance is expected to continue for the foreseeable future in order to fully capture the benefits of the time and effort already invested from 2001 to 2007 in the site's restoration and management, as well as from the LIP-funded activities.
1. Inspect all areas once a year, at a minimum, for new/missed populations of invasive species.
2. Treat new/missed invasive species populations as appropriate.
3. Treat woody resprouts.
4. Conduct additional prescribed burns as appropriate.
5. Seed oak savanna species following successful control of invasive species (until adequate populations are established).
6. Monitor existing yellow giant hyssop, lanceleaf tick-seed, and American gromwell populations for the effects of management. Collect and spread their seeds.
7. Monitor grassland bird use of site for new species, return of established species, and nesting activity
8. Continue restoration of oak savanna and prairie on the 38-acre southern half of the property.

Monitoring plan:
1. Inspect work areas to verify that all observed crown vetch populations were sprayed prior to seed set and that sprayed planted are dead.
2. Inspect work areas to verify that shrub abundance has been reduced by at least 75%. Treat resprouts.
3. Three prescribed burns conducted totaling 27 acres.
4. Abundance of targeted invasive species in oak savanna reduced by at least 75%.

Note: The landowner already keeps written records, including maps, of management activities and the effects of the activities. A sample is attached.

Attachments:
1. Cover of AES management plan.
2. Photos from 2006 applic.
3. Sample management records-including maps


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