First 2016 Volunteer Work Day “Frees” Prairie Nursery
On a beautiful spring-like day in mid-March, 20 Alliance volunteers spent a morning removing invasive trees and shrubs from a neglected prairie nursery on USDA Dairy Forage Research Center (DFRC) land. The nursery, albeit small (<1 acre), was planted by the WDNR under a lease to the Army (then owner of the land) in the late 1990s. Some uncommon and important native prairie species were planted in the nursery with the intention of using these plants as a seed source for restoring prairie on Badger. Alas, the lease between DNR and the Army expired and the nursery was all-but-forgotten. In 2015, the Alliance was informed that the nursery was going to be cleared, plowed and planted to row crops by DFRC, and that if we wanted any plants, we should plan to remove them.
In a fall 2015 meeting between Dr. Mark Boggess, the new DFRC director, Lori Bocher and me in DFRC’s UW-Madison campus office, it became clear that Mark was not well informed about the nursery. After asking a few questions, he promptly made an offer to the Alliance that if we were to maintain the site, we could use the nursery. Challenge accepted!
The Alliance’s first work day of the 2016 season on March 12 was to target the trees and shrubs that had invaded the nursery over the past ten years. With loppers, bow saws and one chain saw in hand, our volunteers went to work. In less than three hours, the entire nursery area had been “freed” from the woody brush, and the freshly cut stems were dabbed with glyphosate herbicide to discourage them from re-sprouting. Mission accomplished! We were surprised and pleased that Mark Boggess stopped by mid-morning to say hello and to see what we were up to. It seems he was duly impressed with our volunteer force, perseverance and passion to save the nursery. We look forward to a continuing and growing relationship with Mark and the Dairy Forage Research Center.