4 thoughts on “May 1 – 7, 2023 Kaw Valley Almanac

  1. Regarding herbicide damage- As you probably know as an advocate of prairie fire, it is worth considering that prescribed fire could restore the plants that were killed off by herbicides at Prairie Park. If that was a relatively healthy ecosystem before the herbicides, those plants probably have seed banks stored in the soil that could be regenerated by fire.
    I am a retired wildland fire manager with education and experience in fire ecology. I do not know Kansas ecosystems directly, as my entire career was spent in the mountains of the western US. However, some of the ecosystems I worked in were meadows and riparian areas. There are some commonalities to fire adapted ecosystems and individual plant species, and one of those is having mechanisms to regenerate, such as through interconnected root systems or seed banks. The challenge is that noxious weeds are opportunists, so timing of fire must be carefully considered to favor native plants.
    A lot of attention has been generated in Lawrence Times without presenting this side of things. The herbicide damage has been described as “inevitable“ loss of rare plants. I don’t think permanent loss is evitable. I would encourage you to continue using your platform to educate the public and land managers about the adaptive ecology of prairies. There is hope to restore this ecosystem with the input of local experts in the field.


    • Thank you Beth, for your informed input, which I will share with the circle of ecologists who have been involved. I, too am cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the dense network of living plants, fungi, insects, et al that are present and am hoping that it has developed the ability to bounce back in the coming years. The herbicide was Pasturegard, which contains triclopyr, and an unknown surfactant that helped in absorbing the auxin mimicing chemical, and how this will affect the root mat is unclear yet, as it is undoubtably interconnected. My sense is that those species most stressed will be assisted by those less affected, something that I think I may be seeing already with the local Pedicularis species. As far as burning, the city had followed the advice of their native plant consultant and had already burned the prairie earlier, which stimulated early forb growth, so will just have to see what happens since no new seeds will be growing this spring.


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