The grassland to be restored delimited by fencing
Earlier this year, I was asked by a colleague to serve on an advisory committee that was making recommendations for the restoration of a meadow on parkland in a neighboring municipality. The 10-acre park was created when the municipality's old stone-and-brick high school was demolished, leaving an open field of rubble buried under a thin veneer of imported topsoil.
Soon after the building was demolished, the municipality engaged the services of a well-respected, ecologically sensitive landscape design firm to create the meadow. The design specified planting native warm-season prairie grasses on the two-acre meadow site.
View across meadow toward existing woodland
For several years, the meadow performance was satisfactory (never spectacular), but inevitably the grassland was doomed to fail because the demolition debris had so sweetened the soil that the acidophilous grasses languished and were overrun with non-native grasses and weeds.
The new consultant who was chosen to re-establish the meadow did it "right" this time--she took soil samples and developed a seed mixture compatible with the shallow, rocky and lime-rich soil. In preparation for re-establishing the grassland, the contractor fenced-off the area, and then herbicided the existing weedy patch in early-summer. Unfortunately, the contractor used the "newest and best" herbicide, Streamline, which is formulated to kill broadleaved plants but to spare the grasses already present. Only after the application of Streamline did an article appear in the New York Times that suggested that Streamline could be extremely toxic to conifers. Sure enough, a huge and beloved ancient Norway spruce that had been near the old school and remained in the center of the new grassland died within two weeks of the herbicide application.
I'm so fortunate to be managing a private preserve (cf. public parkland). At a meeting of the grassland restoration steering committee earlier this week, a quarter of the meeting was wasted discussing whose logos needed to appear on the sign describing the restoration, and which municipal bureau was responsible for giving final approval for the sign design.
Committee members reviewing plans for a native butterfly garden at the edge of the grassland