The Sydenham Field Naturalists initiative in establishing a one acre tallgrass prairie along hwy. 40 sparked the beginning of the Wallaceburg-Sarnia “Prairie Passage” by the Rural Lambton Stewardship Network. This one acre project was started in 1998 with the planting of 10000 grass and forb plugs on a low berm on the west side of Hwy. 40 just north of Whitebread Line. In 1999 another 2000 plugs were planted. In total approximately 20 species were introduced into this ‘created prairie’ and $6500 was invested by the SFN.
The project started under difficult weather conditions and with extremely unfavourable heavy clay subsoil. To add to these problems, numerous aggressive non-native species such as Canada thistle and sweet white clover had to be eliminated. Over the next 10 years, with many, many hours of hot work by a few members, most of the weeds have disappeared although it will probably have to continue for the foreseeable future.
The Hwy. 40 prairie is now a success story and a real sense of pride for the SFN. Most of the original species still remain although a few have begun to dominate such as gray-headed coneflower, stiff goldenrod, tall sunflower, hairy beardtongue and big bluestem. Interestingly, some of the species are seeding themselves and expanding well beyond the original boundaries of ‘the prairie’.
For more photos of our work in this project, see our photo gallery.
For photos taken by our club member, Herman Giethoorn, of the species found on this property follow this link to Highway 40 Prairie. http://www.flickr.com/photos/hgiethoorn/sets/72157625946863300/with/5404374383/
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