The Grassland Program
Image: Grasslands program and the James H. Barrow Field Station
The Grassland Program at the James H. Barrow Biological Field Station began in 2011 and has been developing since under the leadership of Emliss Ricks (Land Stewardship Manager). This long-term project has focused on establishing grasslands in three locations within the Field Station. The first location is a small demonstration prairie of about one acre in the station’s main facilities area. It was established by the late professor of botany Matt Hils (1959–2014) to maintain the biodiversity of prairie plant species for educational purposes.
The second location is a 20-acre meadow established in 2013 in a former agricultural field. Professor Hils had suggested the creation of a meadow that represented the plants and animals found in such grassland ecosystems in Ohio. The efforts in this area have focused on three main outcomes. First, protect Silver Creek’s watershed, as the meadow is part of its catchment area. Second, increase the plant diversity by replacing the vegetation typical of fallow agricultural fields with native warm season grasses and forbs (herbaceous wildflowers). And third, provide habitat for diverse animal species, particularly nesting sites for ground nesting birds such as bobolinks, meadowlarks, and savannah sparrows.
The third and most recent location is another former agricultural field of about three acres. Ecological management in that site began in 2017 to create a smaller meadow following the same practices develop in the larger area. It is located along State Route 82 and will serve as a display of the grassland ecosystem’s beauty to those passing along the road.