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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Wildlife and warm-season grasses: Challenges and opportunities in the Piedmont of North Carolina
Year: 2010
Author(s): Riley, J., Kreh, C.
Source Title:
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 41
Original Publication:  
Abstract: In 2000, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission began a Cooperative Upland habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE) program to address the decline of early successional wildlife, especially northern bobwhite. The program established three 5,000-acre private land cooperatives across the state. Many cost-share practices were offered, including field borders, herbicides, prescribed burning, and native warm-season grass (NWSG) establishment. In the western piedmont cooperative, which is dominated by cool-season grasses, NWSG was the only practice readily accepted by farmers. Therefore, we expanded the use of NWSG in the second phase of CURE (2006-2009). From 2006-2009, we worked with 21 farmers to establish 337 acres of NWSG forage. We provided $180/acre, as well as access to a sprayer, Truax drill, and technical assistance. We dealt with seed quality issues, drought, and general resistance to an unknown forage type. Overall, farmers have been pleased with the benefits of NWSG. We measured population increases for rabbits and a variety of songbirds. Based on field observations, habitat conditions have improved as a result of conversion from tall fescue to NWSG. Wildlife seems to be benefiting from the improved structure and delayed harvest that NWSG provide over traditional forages. Although positive population responses have not been detected for bobwhites in our surveys, landowners and staff are reporting seeing and hearing more quail and other wildlife on these same acres than in the past. Interest in NWSG remains strong even though CURE financial incentives have ended. We still offer technical assistance and planting equipment, and worked with 8 farmers in 2010 to plant another 74 acres. We believe continued popularity is a result of increased knowledge and exposure to NWSG as a forage alternative. Also key to this has been the reduction in the cost of NWSG conversion over the past several years, which we believe was a major concern for landowners. NWSG has become cost competitive with other forages and therefore more feasible.
Publisher: Proceedings of the Seventh Eastern Native Grass Symposium. Knoxville, TN, October 5-8, 2010
Editor(s): C. Harper