Dakota County will plant 31 acres of new prairie, enhance 5 acres of rare remnant prairie and restore 2.5 acres of wetland around Jensen Lake and Buck Pond within Lebanon Hills Regional Park.
The restoration project is funded by a grant from the Conservation Partners Legacy Program.
Restoration will take place over three years. See a project map.
Buck Pond restoration
Buck Pond was once a livestock watering hole, and the erosion-prone soils around it were farmed. Over time, the pond filled in with sediment, burying the native wetland vegetation and soils.
In 2015, the wetland was choked with invasive grass, reed canary grass, and a Wetland Health Evaluation Program assessment found almost none of the pond life associated with a healthy wetland.
Wetland scrape completed
Instead of working with the existing sediment (which originated upslope and is full of invasive roots, shoots and seeds ), a variation of a wetland “scrape” was performed. This technique used bulldozers, backhoes and dump trucks to scrape away accumulated sediment and expose the original wetland soils.
This method drastically reduces use of herbicide and uses the dormant native seed bank and native wetland soils. The expectation is better restoration outcomes as a result of using this method.
The growing season following the scrape, very little reed canary grass came back, and more than 20 native plants sprouted from the native seed bank.
Woodland and prairie restoration
This project also includes the restoration of two old farm fields and degraded grasslands to native dry prairie and oak savanna. The oak savanna area is dominated by an exotic invasive grass call smooth brome which will be removed prior to installing native seed. Installation will be a combination of drilling with a tractor and manual hand dispersal. Maintenance of these prairies will continue until June 2018. Native prairie seeds were planted there in fall 2016.
November-December 2015: Soil scraped from Buck Pond
2016-2017: Are prepared, seeded (if necessary) and monitored
2016-2018: Maintenance, including mowing and herbicide application
Spring 2018: Prescribed burn