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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Establishment of Native Warm-Season Grass Communities on the Oak Ridge Reservation
Year: 2005
Author(s): Ryon, M. G., Parr, P. D.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 182
Original Publication:  
Abstract: We implemented a program to establish native warm-season grass communities on the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR). The ORR, including three developed facility sites, is about 34,000 acres. Approximately 20,000 acres (Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park) surround the developed areas. The ORR serves as both a buffer for the facilities and a research area for environmental studies. The majority of the undeveloped ORR consists of eastern deciduous forest, but approximately 1,500 acres are currently managed as hayfields and fescue rights-of-way, and about 5,000 acres were managed (prior to infestation by southern pine beetle) as loblolly pine plantations. As part of a management strategy aimed at reducing nonnative species and promoting a diversity of habitats, some of these acres were targeted for conversion to native grass communities. The initial phases of the conversion focused on creating demonstration areas of the utility of grass management and replacing the use of fescue seed as the preferred option for restoration following construction or remediation activities. A suite of site preparation actions were utilized including prescribed burns, selective application of herbicides, mowing or bush-hogging, and/or pile and burn of slash. Following site preparations, a variety of seed mixes were applied to the sites, including pure stands of big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, and switchgrass, mixed stands of grasses, and mixed stands of grasses and wildflowers. Application techniques included rotary broadcast, no-till drill, and hand planting of plugs. Since 2002, approximately 250 acres have been planted in native warm-season grass communities. Conversion sites included abandoned fields, pine-beetle damaged stands, power line and road rights-of-way, wetland restoration sites, and re-mediated waste disposal landfills. The conversion has resulted in mixed success, ranging from full grass communities established within one year at some sites to complete failure of grass germination at other sites.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes