Wind Cave Seed Study
Restoration of vegetative cover is required after ground disturbing activities in the Park, with the majority of these from human causes. In the past, park employees have planted commercially grown seed mixes of native grass species in order to restore vegetative cover. In many instances, the success of reseeding has been low, resulting in the need to investigate this need. As a result, the Wind Cave Seed Study came to life. The study is a cooperative (USGS and NPS) three-year research project that started in 2004 with the intention of defining a better native seed mix for the local area and the feasibility of collecting native seed from within the park for use in future restoration projects.
During the 2004 field season, the “seed study girls” gathered baseline data on success/failure of commercial mix by establishing 200 permanent plots on a fairly recent seeding done on the Wind Cave waterline. The plots were paired with one plot being located in the disturbed, seeded area and a control plot was located just off the waterline in the undisturbed area.
The control plot allowed the researchers to determine the potential natural vegetation that could be expected for the local soil and site types prior to the disturbance. The plots were read twice, once during late spring and again in late summer. Two readings allowed a more extensive inventory of both cool and warm season species. The second major task of 2004 was to collect and clean seed from 48 native species to plant in test plots in the mixing circle. Head researcher, Amy Symstad of USGS developed eight different seed mixes, and planted half the test plots in December, assisted by Marie Curtin.