by Bill Mees, Nature Areas Committee

Prepping the area for new prairie seeds at Wild Haven

During the summer, everything seems to slow down a little, but nothing really stops.  In fact, for CAS habitat restoration efforts quicken.

AT CANS, many seedlings were planted in early spring with the intention of re-establishing some of Missouri’s missing brushy, bushy species.  Unfortunately, the heat combined with the lack of precipitation conspired to thwart our efforts. Although most of the seedlings expired, some are struggling on. However, the mile and a half of trails continued to require mowing – thank you, Dean Ravenscraft.

The new prairie seeded in January has transitioned from the brown and dead field into something green again. It will be another year before we really know how many species survived this Missouri summer.

AT Wild Haven, removal of invasives, especially autumn olive, continues. The results are beginning to show. The removal of competition from the autumn olive is allowing the native species to sprout.

Trail clearing and improvements at Wild Haven are ongoing. Question: do dead trees and limbs always fall across a trail? David Neely has the answer that question, and Riley Nichols and his mower know that grass keeps growing.

Preparations for the next Wild Haven prairie have begun. The single most important part to building a prairie is preparing the area. That requires removing anything that will compete with the native seeds that will be planted.

Prairies provide so many ecological services: no mowing, no watering, habitat for pollinators and “bugs” which in turn become a food source for other species, especially birds. Prairies also absorb water, slow erosion, and mitigate flash flooding. Eventually, Wild Haven will be the beneficiary of all these benefits provided by the expanded prairie.

Thanks go out to the Audubon volunteers who have worked to improve the habitats at Audubon’s properties. We hope you enjoy the birding on your next visit.