5 ways Gwynne’s growing greener (and you can, too)

May. 10, 2017

Look for new players like riprap, blazing star and willow fascines in Ohio State’s Gwynne Conservation Area.

The nearly 70-acre facility, part of CFAES’s Farm Science Review site at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, has started two new projects — one to diversify its prairie plantings; the other, to protect the banks of Deer Creek, which flows through the grounds.

Review Manager Nick Zachrich said the projects offer double benefits: They improve the Gwynne itself. And they demonstrate practices that people — including the Review’s 100,000-plus visitors every September — can take home and use on their own land, too.

1. Flower power

Blazing star (pictured), is one of the many forbs, or wildflowers, to be planted — via new seed mixes — in the Gwynne’s 10-plus acres of prairie. Asters, milkweeds and coneflowers are others.

2. Pollinator, wildlife benefits

Previously, the Gwynne’s prairie plantings were mostly just two grasses: big bluestem and Indian grass. The new seed mixes, which include forbs with grasses, hold benefits for pollinators — such as monarch butterflies (pictured above) — and wildlife.

3. Testing best management methods

The prairie project also is demonstrating forb-friendly management — involving disking, burning, removing residue or a combination. Mike Retterer, an Ohio-based biologist with the nonprofit Pheasants Forever, helped develop the strategies.

4. Bank guards

Riprap (large chunks of rock) and willow fascines (bundles of live stems that are planted, take root and grip soil) are two tools helping to restore Deer Creek’s stream bank.

5. Excavation implementation

As a first step, however, members of the Ohio Land Improvement Contractors of America, a longtime Review partner, will excavate the stream bank, reduce its slope and eliminate an unstable undercut.

Visit the Gwynne’s website.