Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Daughmer Prairie Dedication

Ohio's nature buffs have been waiting 20 years for this day:  Daughmer Bur Oak Prairie Savannah State Nature Preserve was dedicated yesterday.

Daughmer is significant, not only for Ohio; it also has a reputation for being the best Oak Prairie Savannah nationally. And Bur Oak Savannahs are a globally rare habitat- globally rare.  It has been the culmination of many years work to protect and preserve this little 40 acre plot of what was once 200,000 acres of prairie.

This sign was placed years ago,  marking the importance of this tract of land- even when it was still being used as a sheep pasture.  Oak savannahs are created by islands of higher-drier soils being surrounded by heavy wet clay soils. In Ohio over 99 percent of the prairie have been plowed and used for agriculture.  This is a very rare plot that has never been tilled.

 State Parks Chief Glen Cobb, Crawford Park Director Bill Fisher and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer cut the ribbon to open the preserve.

 Note the beautiful native stand of Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans  directly behind them.

John Mack, of Cleveland Metro-parks has studied this significant site for many years.  He lent his expertise to the field trips, and spoke to us about the unique hydrology.

The prairie tours pass beneath the towering oaks.

 Rick Gardner, Ohio's Heritage botanist also guided tours.  Over 90 people came out for the dedication, in spite of the rain showers.

 Guy Denny teaches the crowd about Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum a species that is reappearing since sheep no longer graze here.

Winged loosestrife, Lythrum alatum
 Loosestrife- the good one.  Yes, this is not the invasive species we try to eradicate from wetlands.  This is a much rarer native species which we want to keep.  And that is why Natural Areas need to be protected and maintained by the experts who know the subtle differences in these plants.   We WANT this loosestrife.

 Winged Loosestrife grows along the edges of the parking lot at Daughmer.  The beautiful pink flowers are a natural part of this ecosystem, which needs be restored.  The balance of this prairie is in need of management: fire to beat back the invasive species, volunteers to help dig out teasel, and botanists to help us document rare species as they return from the seed bank.

Josh Dyer and Bill Fisher are the locals who are heading up much of the work at Daughmer Prairie.  

Join the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association and help them protect this prairie, or one of  the many other significant natural areas in Ohio.  We need your help as we volunteer in the preserves. Click on that link and join today!

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