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Restoration Ecology Projects Overview

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on 16 March 2013

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Transcript of Restoration Ecology Projects Overview

Restoring Surface Mined Land to Productive Purposes Preserving biodiversity
at The Wilds conservation center The Wilds Today Challenges and opportunities Primary Goals:
increase biodiversity & eco-function
study & facilitate the process of recovery
provide first-hand educational experiences = science training! Restoring Biodiversity & Eco-Services:
Creating landscapes that are more beneficial for people & wildlife Focus on Restoration of Ecological Services:
Cleaning Water:
Restoring Wetland & Riparian Habitats

Supporting Biodiversity & Pollination:
Removing Invasives & Planting Natives

Building Soil & Sequestering Carbon:
Prairie Creation & Sustainable Agriculture Ecological research geared at native pollinators, grassland birds and amphibians – taxa in need of global conservation Planted 355 acres of native prairie thus far,
plans to sow another 300 more ( = 7% of Wilds Land Base!). Plant it…
Be patient for 3 years…. Healthy Habitats for People & Wildlife:
How We Create Prairie:
Prairie Establishment Cycle Continues! COLLECT SEEDS
FROM OLD PRAIRE
START NEW IN 3 YEARS PRAIRIE
BEGINS TO BLOOM
BURN MANAGEMENT SITE PREP
DRILL SEED
MOW FIRST 2 YEARS

Management Methods Exploring:
Herbicide Carriers (diesel fuel to AX-IT™ basal oil) & Concentrations:
10% Garlon 4 Ultra™ solution vs.
20% Garlon 4 Ultra™ solution Forest Creation and Management Results:
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) Removal After Basal Spray Methods: Setting Up Study & Applying Treatments
GPS location, height, size class, DBH recorded
Metal marker tagged (ID trees on follow up)
657 trees tagged / treated (~ 38 ac)

Phase 1:
20% Garlon 4A™ solution *(347 trees on 11.6 acres)
175 with AX-IT™ basal oil / 172 with diesel fuel as the surfactant
Phase 2:
10% Garlon 4A™ solution *(310 trees on 26.1 acres)
158 with AX-IT™ basal oil / 152 with diesel as the surfactant (Autumn Olive) Elaeagnus umbellata Goal: to benefit imperiled native grassland bird populations Phase 1 – Moderate Cover ranging from 15-30%

Foliar herbicide applications
Mechanical removal
Dormant stem herbicide applications


Phase 2 - Dense Cover ranging from 95-100%
Mechanical land clearing combined with chemical treatment:

Fracture (herbicide re-sprout only)
Cut stump (immediate herbicide) Field Trials: Project Background Results Mechanical land clearing methods best in dense growth where access with spray equipment is difficult

The combo of mechanical-chemical treatments allow judicious use of herbicide and possibly reduce the quantity needed

AO “footprints” - give way to secondary invasives, unless replanted

Management plans should include
native plant restoration! Take Home On: Autumn Olive Management Cleaning Water: Wetlands & Riparian Habitat Restoration Site History: 1972 5 years before SMCRA
Still farm fields in areas
Lowland present
Mining in surrounding areas Ten years later
Valley flooded
Surrounding areas still being mined & reclaimed Site History: 1982 Damn removal in 1982: emergent wetland
Diversity of aquatic plants and wildlife.
Maintained by beavers until 2000's Healthy Emergent Wetland… Wetland reverting to upland system
infested with non-native, invasive species. Pre-restoration Site Conditions
Control invasive species
Install weir, earthen berm & water control structure
Restore riparian habitat
Plant native seed & transplants
Improve access for visitors
Ongoing management

Wetland Restoration Activities: Successes:
Beavers returned to wetland!
Muskrat and softshell turtle now present
Diverse macroinvertebrates (sensitive species)
Increased diversity of birds in restored wetland Wetland Restoration Outcomes:
Wildlife Wetland Restoration Outcomes:
Vegetation Successes:
Increasing species richness & obligate wetland plants
600 cu. ft. of sediment captured in catchment basin A 0.35 mile transect established and monitored over 21 weeks (methodology: The Ohio Lepidoptera Society Long-term Monitoring Program

Results show:
In 1 year of recovery, the wetland showed equivalent increases in butterfly diversity and abundance to that of the 9-year-old restored prairie. Wetland Restoration Outcomes:
Lepidopteran Monitoring photo by Jason Capello Immersive residential camp:
cultivates understanding of wetland ecology and respect for nature
Educational kiosk:
demonstrate how individuals can contribute to land stewardship
Open access trails:
encourage exploration Conservation Education: ...Prairie!! Restoration Process:
Restored 40 ac of wetland & riparian buffer -Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview -Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview -Background
-Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview Funding:
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

Management Methods:
Ripped
Cross Ripped
Soil churning
Hand Dug
Deer repellant / tree tubes

Outcomes Measured:
Survival
Diameter
Height

Impacts:
Native hardwood habitat
Speed succession
Greater survivability* Reforestation:
Tree Planting Techniques -Background
-Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview -Background
-Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview Funding: Wildlife Habitat
Incentives Program (WHIP)

Planted 355 acres of native prairie thus far
Primarily no-till drill
Plans to sow another 300

Impact:
Providing critical habitat and resources for pollinators and other wildlife, while improving soil & accelerating succession. Prairie Creation: Pollinator Habitat Monitoring Prairie Habitat
Goal:
Monitor butterfly density & species richness in various restored habitats

Management Methods:
Survey 4 permanent transects
Record diversity of species observed & abundance

Outcomes:
30 sp. recorded to date (144 Ohio Species)

Impact:
Quality habitat is created in short time frame compared to restoration of other ecosystems Prairie as Habitat Funding:
WHIP
Management Methods:
Maximize forage while leaving habitat for grassland nesting birds
Outcomes:
Improved ability to manage and breed bison heard
Impact:
Healthier cool-season pasture and grassland habitat for native species Bison Management:
Rotational Grazing We harvest 150 acres of hay annually

We collect our own browse

We utilize compost from our animal facilities in fertilizing our hay fields Sustainable Forage Production Funded: USDA/NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program (CIG)

Demonstrate multiple uses of prairie on "marginal land"

60 acre demonstration site and a Partner Farm
compare conditions after prairie establishment to conventional grazing operations Sustainable Agriculture:
Prairie Project
Objective
Demonstration of alternative uses for mined landscapes
Final evaluations will be done over next year Prairie as a Crop Multi-Use Crop:

Provide quality forage for livestock (bison)

Produce biomass for hay or biofuel

Create habitat for wildlife & improve ecosystem function (pollination)

Build soil & store carbon (deep root systems) What is Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)?
Considers all inputs and outputs for a product.
We're using it to trace carbon and energy through the process of prairie establishment Multiple uses: Soil building and Carbon Sequestration Audience Planting Tilling Sub-soiling Herbicide application The land preparation process (already seeing no-till drill is best) Goal:
Demonstrate most effective method for establishing prairie as an alternative crop on mineland

Four 15 ac parcels and Partner Farm
Different land preparation techniques
All seeded with diverse prairie mix Prairie: Land Prep Management & Methods Species Captures No till/graze 3 19% No till 3 23.5% Tilling 3 24% Till & Subsoil 4 18.5% Partner Farm 1 1% Training students and staff on weighing captures during small mammal trapping
Trapping started in 2011
Year 1: 9% capture rate

Improved methods in 2012
Year 2: 21% capture rate
Small Mammal Diversity Average SR/plot Species that are invasive No till/Grazing 24 10% No till 22 16% Till 28 16% Till & Subsoil 28 14% Control 10 20% Partner Farm 18 19% Surveyed 14 fixed sites across 4 treatment plots in 2012 Training on vegetation monitoring Monitoring: Vegetation Total Carbon

kg/m2 Organic Carbon

kg/m2 Average of 4 plots at Wilds 9.43 4.20 Average at Partner Farm 8.21 6.75 Baseline sampling conducted 2011
Looking at total carbon and organic carbon (kg/m2).










Follow up sampling scheduled Nov 2012 and again in 2013 Soils Average # of insects/plot Average # of families/plot The Wilds 11 11 Partner Farm 13 13 Indicator of habitat quality, source of food for birds and assist in pollinating crops

Baseline surveys of 14 points for arthropods in 2011
Looking at both beneficial and pests Insect diversity and abundance Next Steps
Roughly 1,000,000 ac of land in the Northeastern United States have been impacted by coal mining

In Ohio there are ~ 700,000 ac of previously mined land

Prairie works!
Shown to grow well in marginal soils The Potential of
Mined Landscapes
Mine lands could provide a network of healthy habitat corridors for wildlife to move through once restored. Implications for Restoration Beginning farmers and ranchers
Agricultural producers on marginal land
Grass-fed livestock producers Project Scope Weeds managed through:

Prescribed burning
Mowing Monitoring: Soil Carbon, Vegetation, Insect &
Small Mammal Diversity Continued monitoring & management
Nutrition analysis of forage
Biomass yield
Introduce Bison
Evaluate and share results Prairie Demonstration Project
funded by CIG -Background
-Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project Overview Soil compaction; poor permeability
pH highly variable
Increase in soil temperature
Lack of nutrients, especially N & P
Loss of native seed bank and soil biota
Invasive non-native plant species primary vegetative cover before after Fire Adapted System:

Removes thatch layer

Kills early weeds

Adds nutrients to soil

Stimulates prairie plants Healthy Habitats for People & Wildlife:
How We Create Prairie: Prescribed Burn Management 3 weeks later Day 1 after the burn Installing water control structures Replanting 1) Mechanical and chemical removal of invasive plant species 2) 3) Tree-of-heaven Study: EQIP Field Trials to explore judicious & effective removal of Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) to restore forest habitats Objective:
Compare effectiveness of different removal methods in varying degrees of infestation No-Till Drill
w/ Grazing No-Till Drill Tilling Tilling &
Subsoiling Map of Preparation Plots End Product:
Forage, Hay, Biofuel... After one year in the field, there were significant differences among treatments (F = 38.89, P < 0.0001).

20% Garlon in AX-IT (100%)
10% Garlon in AX-IT (99%)
20% Garlon in Diesel (98%)
10% Garlon in Diesel (88%). Fecon mulcher Moderate infestation Prairie Restoration Will it work? Additional benefits
Cost share available
Low maintainence once established
Supports pollinators
Complements cool season grasses Your opinion...
Please take a moment to offer feedback by filling out a short survey. MODERATE COVER
Foliar Herbicide
Dormant Stem Herbicide
Mechanical Removal

DENSE COVER
Fracture
Cut-stump and Spray Arsenal Powerline, Escort XP
Garlon 4, Stalker
John Deer 3110 D backhoe


Fecon Bulldog BH74 SS
GyroTrac GT-25, Stalker 98
71
15


63
46 Method Equipment % Mortality Potential Obstacles
Requires 3 years to establish
. . . Our History the Wilds Mission Advancing Conservation Through Science, Education, and Personal Experience The Wilds Landscape
During Mining Operations How The Wilds was born…
10,000 acres of reclaimed surface-mined land in SE Ohio
donated by American Electric Power

Non-profit formed (1984) & Open to public (1994)

Today Wilds is the largest wildlife conservation center in North
America

Productive mineland providing unique opportunities- economical,
ecological, educational, eco-tourism Mining & Reclamation began sometime in 40’s & 50’s (more significantly 60’s through mid 80’s)
Transformation on a landscape scale = total loss of ecosystem services The Big Muskie Over 90% of the landscape was surface mined Wilds Habitats Created:
Grassland 4655 ac
Forests 3832 ac
Lakes / Ponds (125 on site) 497 ac
Wetlands 165 ac
Animal Pastures 1200 ac Developing solutions for the management of sustainable wildlife populations through scientific research and by offering advanced training to professionals

Creating opportunities for adults and children to explore the natural world through on-site experiences -The Wilds Overview
-Restoration Ecology Efforts
Wetlands
Grassland
Forests
Prairie
Sustainable Agriculture
Project
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