Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, Bismarck, ND 58502
In order for wetland restoration and creation projects to be successful, information related to plant species establishment and management is required. The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) plant materials program is currently assembling life history information and conducting studies to determine appropriate establishment and management methods for wetland plant species in the midwest as well as in other regions of the United States. Research has been initiated at four plant materials centers (PMC's) to evaluate wetland plant species for establishment characteristics, water quality improvement, forage production, and wildlife habitat.
At the Bismarck, North Dakota, PMC ecotypes of prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) and whitetop (Scolochloa festucacea) are being evaluated for seed production and plant establishment to facilitate management in waterfowl habitats and around water-control structures. The forage value of whitetop for wildlife and livestock is under investigation.
The Elsberry, Missouri PMC has begun evaluations of three wetland species; broad-leaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), soft rush (Juncus effusus), and soft-stem bulrush (Scirpus validus) for use in constructed wetlands to treat wastewater. The center has also initiated collections of smooth-cone sedge (Cartex laeviconica) and heart-leaf willow (Salix rigida).
The Manhattan, Kansas PMC is evaluating ecotypes of prairie cordgrass and common reed (Phragmites australis) for their ability to protect embankments from erosion and their survivability in areas that are subject to inundation as well as drought conditions, such as reservoirs. These species may also be used in grass filter-strips or artificial wetlands for water-quality improvement.
The Rose Lake PMC in East Lansing, Michigan has begun germination and propagation studies of several bulrush species (Scirpus sp.) and giant burreed (Sparganium eurycarpum). The information obtained will be used to develop seeding mixes for wetland projects.
Investigations of wetland plant species and ecotypes conducted at the PMC's of the Soil Conservation Service will provide needed information to facilitate the establishment and management of these species for various wetland enhancement, restoration, and creation projects.