Posted by Nile Merton, Founder and Michael Sinclair, Co-Owner
Our goal for this restoration project is to establish a native grassland while providing pollinator habitat. Pollinator habitat isn’t just about the flowers; many insects need structure like dead grass and hollow stems to nest in. To do this we need to control some invasive plant species including tansy, garden valerian, nonnative lupine, and reed canary grass. Helping us in this work is the local business, Regenerative Ruminants, and their herd of goats and sheep. They rotationally graze the old field which helps mimic bison and elk grazing in the past. The goats and sheep eat the invasive plants and woody species while aerating the soil.
This year to prepare the site, our company, Bay Area Environmental Consulting (BAEC), will be repeatedly mowing to prevent invasive species from producing seed. This fall, we will plant a cover crop of rye on a portion of the project area. Rye naturally suppresses other species, which is a helpful management tool when landowners would like to avoid herbicide use.
Next spring, we will chop down the rye and then plant the site with native species. We plan to establish a northern mesic sedge meadow with a significant grass component. This will encourage native species historically prevalent on the landscape and provide habitat for many grassland birds and insects. Following planting, we will have ongoing invasive species management and possibly some further native plantings. Like everyone who has done restoration work knows, it won’t be a one-and-done deal. Restoring sedge meadows on Lake Superior clay hasn’t been widely done, so this is all experimental. To track our progress, we conducted vegetation sampling this spring, and will continue throughout the project. This way, we know how the plant community has changed with our management.
Our hats are off to Sue DeNuccio for choosing to conserve and manage her land in an ecologically conscientious way. Some landowners ask why they should do the same. There are many reasons but one of the biggest in Wisconsin is to combat habitat fragmentation. By providing islands of habitat for plants and animals in this fragmented system, we encourage native communities which will be resilient to climate change.
Bay Area Environmental Consulting has been operating for 4 years, mostly in the northernmost counties of Wisconsin – Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, Douglas, and Sawyer. We do some work outside of this area also. If you would like to see more of our work, please visit our website at cheqbayrestoration.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.