Restoring Working Landscapes for the Future: How the Native Prairie Seeding Approach in Utility Right-of-Ways Could Contribute to Regional Habitat Restoration
Presented by: Shana Byrd, The Dawes Arboretum
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About the Presentation
Prairie was once a dominant grassland ecosystem, covering millions of hectares in the United States. Today, this unique habitat is among the most critically endangered biomes in North America. While eastern deciduous forest was the historical cover throughout most of Ohio, small pockets of the original prairie peninsula habitat existed in the state. Restoring the diversity of these former ecosystems is a worthwhile goal that supports the sensitive wildlife that depend on them. Several studies on mine lands have supported the survival of native species following reclamation efforts and have led to insight on how this approach can be applied to rehabilitate other challenging landscapes, including urban areas, rural agricultural land, utility right-of-ways and roadsides post-construction. A five year study is underway at The Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio to explore the practice of using native species in seed mixes to restore diversity on electric utility line rights-of-way. Many perennial species in the native seed mix will mature slowly and therefore were not expected to be present in the initial years of evaluation. However, in 2019 (year 3 of the study), 84% of the species in the native seed mix (22 of 26 species) were recorded as successfully established within the study plots. Biological surveys indicate a variety of insects utilize the plots, including 33 butterfly species, 16 beneficial insect families, and 14 bee taxa (either genera or families). Preliminary results support the use of native seed mixes to enhance species diversity within challenging landscapes, while also restoring an imperiled ecosystem. Therefore the application of native seed mixes should be strongly considered as an alternative post-construction ecological restoration method that creates regionally native habitat, increases native biodiversity, as well as ecosystem function, more so than the conventional non-native seeding options once considered the only standard practice.
About the Presenter
Shana received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Plant Biology with a specialization in Field Botany from Ohio University in 2001 and has been involved with natural resource management and education for the past 19 years. She earned her Master of Arts in Zoology degree in the Global Field Program at Miami University, focusing on environmental stewardship and global conservation awareness.
Her ecosystem restoration experience includes wetland enhancements, native prairie establishment, forest understory restoration, reforestation in agricultural lands, invasive species removal and grassland habitat management.
As current Director of Land Conservation at The Dawes Arboretum, she guides research and management of the preserve's natural areas encompassing nearly 2,000 acres of woodlands, wetlands, prairies, meadows and riparian corridors.
About the Series
The Interagency Ecological Restoration Quality Committee hosts monthly Webinars in an effort to bring restoration practitioners from across the country together to present and discuss the innovations aimed at improving the quality of ecological restoration data. Presentations are approximately 45 minutes in length, followed by open discussion.
About the Committee
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Great Lakes National Program Office established this Committee (including federal agencies, contractors, and ecological restoration practitioners) in June 2012 to share and develop quality practices that facilitate collection of reliable data for ecological restoration projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This Webinar series supports this collaborative effort; please join us! Contact Lou Blume (USEPA Quality Manager) for more details.