A natural wetland loses and regains water as seasons and weather change. The nine owners of Massasauga Flats, a private wetland near Meadville, strive to emulate this natural ebb and flow. “Most people make the mistake of draining their wetland too fast or too early,” says George Seek, one of the Flats’ owners and a former wetland manager for the Department. The key, he says, is to keep the soil moist with slow draw-downs throughout late spring and summer. This technique, called moist-soil management, mimics natural wetland cycles, and managers use it to create diverse habitat for wetland plants and animals.
“In many cases,” George says, “once you drain the top third of a wetland, Mother Nature will do the rest through evaporation. Go slow and you’ll see better wetland habitat and fantastic hunting in the fall.”
For more details about practicing slow draw-down on your wetland acres, see the links listed below.
One lespedeza is a nitrogen-rich, native prairie legume. Livestock relish it, and game birds prize its seeds. The second lespedeza is an aggressive invader. It’s high in tannins and turns woody by midsummer, so cattle won’t eat it. The first is lespedeza capitata, or round-headed bush clover; the second is non-native sericea lespedeza. Don’t accidentally “improve” your pastures with it! Learn to identify and control sericea lespedeza by exploring the links listed below—and make sure to buy native lespedezas from reputable sources.
If you’re restoring native prairie or implementing the CRP practice known as “Rare and Declining Habitats,” you’ll appreciate the Missouri Native Seed Association. It has cooperated with the Missouri Crop Improvement Association to develop standards for Missouri source-identified native seed. These certified “Missouri born and raised” native seeds are adapted to local soils, climate and wildlife. Another term for this match between local plants, soils and wildlife is “local ecotype.” Seeds from your local ecotype are more likely to produce diverse plant and animal communities—and protect your investment of time and money—than seed grown in other regions. To find seed, visit Grow Native! and click on “Buyer’s Guide.” Ask for seed that carries the yellow MCIA source-identified seed tag.
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