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Grassland Restoration

Grassland Restoration Project, Schnell Recreation Area, Richardton, ND

Visitors and individuals passing by the Schnell Recreation Area north east of Richardton, ND will notice brown fields where vegetation has been killed and nothing apparently growing over large areas west of the campground. Other areas appear to be completely covered with weeds but upon closer examination native plants, some seeded by the current project and some germinating and emerging from the seed bank can be found. These areas are currently under the management of the Grassland Restoration Project, a project designed to reduce or eliminate perennial tame grasses and broadleaf plants and then reintroduce native grass and forb species.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) stated objective is the restoration of the native grassland plant community to its historic climax or desired plant community and to reestablish adapted, native perennial vegetation such as grasses, forbs, and legumes at the Schnell Recreation Area. The BLM, working cooperatively with the North Dakota State University Extension Service and the Dickinson Research Extension Center is now into the third year of a six year project. The stated objectives for the project are:

  • Objective 1: Restore native species on previously tilled and seeded land through termination of undesirable tame cool season species with herbicides and reestablishing desirable species with no-till methods on 305 acres.
  • Objective 2: Demonstrate improved termination techniques, no-till seeding equipment, and post emergence weed control to reduce costs and required time to establish native grass and forb species.
  • Objective 3: Demonstrate restoration techniques for termination and reestablishment methods for native species to area landowners. Some landowners are interest in transforming farmland into native prairie to improve hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Tools used in this project include no-till seeding methods, site specific application of management techniques, as well as integrated weed control methods including herbicides, plant completion, low disturbance seeding, manual removal of specific invasive weeds, diverse plant communities, and grazing management.

Brandon Elkins, project assistant, has tracked management practices and recorded results with photographs during the growing season. You can follow the application of specific management practices for this project on Google Earth. Prior to viewing on Google Earth, download and install Google Earth on your computer from http://earth.google.com/. The current free version (August 3, 2009) is 5.0. Once Google Earth is installed on your computer you can follow the link by clicking on the icon below.

Schnell Recreation Area Grassland
Restoration Project.kmz

Layers can be turned on and off by checking on them in the left window. Click on the GPS-Photo Link to turn on the photo tour. An online users guide for Google Earth can be found by clicking here. Additional information about the project can be found by clicking here.

If you are planning a visit to Schnell Recreation Area, note the GPS coordinates listed with each picture on the Google Earth tour and then find those locations on the ground and compare.

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