||Three sites designated as Piedmont Prairie Restoration Areas have been established in Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves, totaling approximately 74 acres. The McDowell Prairie was a series of agricultural fields where hay and grain was grown. The restoration began with the use of prescribed fire. Root tubers of Schweinitz’s sunflower (a federally endangered species) were rescued from a road construction project, transplanted into the area. Since the McDowell site was formally farm land, mechanized equipment was used to mow weeds, prepare the soil, and plant seed purchased from commercial sources. Mowing, burning, and herbicide application occur periodically, as needed, to help keep unwanted plants from invading the restoration area. The Dodge City Prairie, like the McDowell Prairie, is also in the McDowell Nature Preserve. It is visible from NC Route 49 at Shopton Road West. This site as approximately 10 acres of open field, most recently planted in corn and wheat. It is bordered by forest on two sides and roads on the other two, and like the others, was planted with a variety of warm season native grasses including indiangrass, big bluestem, little bluestem, and switchgrass. The Latta Prairie is located in a former mature hardwood forest, clear-cut in 1986, 6 years before Mecklenburg County purchased the property. Pioneer species like red bud, sweet gum, black cherry and eastern red cedar quickly established. The Department contracted with NCFS to install fire lines, shear off the tree and compact them (K-G and drum-chop). The first prescribed fire took place in 1995 and the Latta prairie has been burned each year since. The steep slope and heavy concentration of rock prevented the land from being tilled. Hand planting using locally collected native seed or rootstock have occurred in several small plots and transects. Two other Piedmont Prairie Restoration sites are in the early stages.