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Prairie Facts

Report: Restoration Workshop & Tour of Farm, March 8, 2018, by Don Kirchoff

“Prairie Restoration Site Workshop and Tour of The Kirchoff Family Farm”

Objectives: Observe the outcomes of “RESTORATION ACTIVITIES” implemented on-site, and share ideas on “CHALLENGES” which include CONTROLLING INVASIVE PLANTS!

HOSTS:
NPAT:
Pat Merkord, Executive Director, and Phillip Quast, Program Director, and
The Kirchoff Family: Brenda Kirchoff, Scott Kirchoff, Don Kirchoff, Owners of Kirchoff Family Farm, LLC.

INVITEES:
-Members of the Maintenance Staff of the San Antonio River Authority, SARA.
SARA was represented by Michael Leonard, Andrew Rulewicz, Alicia Ramsey, Darrell Smith, Kevin Silcox, Kevin Pride, Zach Williams, Kirk Moravits, Justin Krobot, and William Yosko
About SARA: SARA, created in 1937, is one of many such active river authorities in the State of Texas. Its jurisdiction covers 3,658 square miles—all of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes and Goliad Counties.
-Douglas King Seeds, DK Seeds.
DK Seeds was represented by Teresa Shumaker, Marketing Department.
About DK Seeds:
DK Seeds is a sponsor and producer of certified South Texas Native plant varieties and has mentored the Kirchoff Family throughout their endeavors. The company has been based in nearby San Antonio since 1917. 

TOUR and OBSERVATIONS


PHOTOGRAPHERS: We appreciate Teresa Shumaker for multi-tasking and serving as ‘primary photographer’ throughout the day! You are most generous to share your excellent photos! 
And “thank you, Don!”  When he wasn’t driving the ‘mule’ or leading a walking tour (as in the photo below), he took time to stop and admire the prairie, and he captured images which are posted at the closing of this report.

Tour of the Kirchoff Family Farm (by foot and by mule).

Observed, first-hand, the visible outcomes of the family’s restoration activities which they have been implementing on-site for several years.
Shared ideas on a variety of challenges including “invasive plant control.”
Observed the impact a harsh winter has on invasive grasses and shrubs.
Discussed plans and options to further weaken invasive populations, vital to prairie restoration efforts.

INVASIVES BARRIER
The image below illustrates one of several “invasive barriers” proposed by Scott Kirchoff that is in progress.
METHOD: Strips were shallowly “scratched” with sweeps across areas invaded by old world bluestems (silky bluestems), sprayed with glyphosate repeatedly during the growing season last year to deplete the seed bank, then planted in the fall with tall prairie grasses (switchgrass and four flower trichloris).
EXPECTATION: A dense population of tall grasses, planted in strips perpendicular to the prevailing wind, will gradually outcompete invasive stands of bluestems.

OBSERVATIONS: EARLY SIGNS of SPRING
Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus clinging to new growth of Mountain laurel Sophora secundiflora 

and a beautiful Texas thistle Cirsium texanum.

A lone bushy bluestem Andropogon glomeratus,            Young leaves of eastern baccharis Baccharis halimifolia,
       

and “Switchgrass Savanna” among invading False Willow Baccharis neglecta.


Developing the “Milkweed Plot”

Zizotes milkweeds Asclepias oenotheroides: Emerging, though small, and growing in the meticulously designed “Milkweed Plot”, the product of many hours of back-greaking work in 2016 & 2017!

The ‘Zizotes Garden’ - I was excited to spot a few flower buds on some of the plants!
 

We are anticipating expanding the space ‘Milkweed Plot’
(You can spot the original ‘zizotes garden’ on the far right of this photo.)
 
and transplanting these hearty-looking Antelope horns (which were planted from seed in 2017)!