I spent the weekend learning about and being inspired by a variety of ecological restoration projects going on in my region. The presentations I sat in on focused mostly on grassland restoration. So, I learned about a herbicide that seems effective on Johnsongrass, but does little harm to native forbs and only affects a few native grasses. This could be a really useful tool in areas that need Johnsongrass control, but also have important native species that we don’t want to damage. So many of the prairie restoration how-to instructions assume you are starting from an exotic species monoculture (Bermuda grass) or bare dirt. This is the first time I have seen this particular issue successfully addressed.
I also learned how some native plant nurseries operate and how they utilize the material they grow. I was inspired to initiate a small scale project to start some native plants to be ready for the spring volunteer event we have on campus. I have a student working for me this spring and this will be a great project for her to work on!
People also spoke about collecting seed from native species in natural areas. Again I was so motivated by their talks that I gathered seeds from our nearby meadow to potentially plant in my front yard prairie meadow in the coming year.
I love it when conferences like this one energize me and reinvigorate my enthusiasm for conservation work.