Seed Study - Prairie Restoration
The Black Hills Community Inventory Report (Marriot et al. 1999) rated Wind Cave National Park exemplary for its large amounts of high quality habitat with natural processes in place. Thus, when Park activities disturb the ground and vegetation, re-establishing native vegetation as quickly as possible to preserve this integrity is a high priority. In the past, disturbed areas have been planted with a seed mix of commercially grown native grass species, but the Natural Resources staff has generally been disappointed with how this mix has performed. They saw the need to investigate the potential for a better mix of species. Also, because commercially grown seed lacks the diversity and genetic complexity of native plant communities, they wanted to test the feasibility of using seed collected from within the Park in future revegetation projects. As a result, the Wind Cave Seed Study began in 2004. This three-year research project is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service.
The art and science of rehabilitating natural vegetation in the northern Great Plains is generally not as well developed as it is for other parts of the US. Hence, when we began looking for information on species to plant, how to collect their seeds, what they look like when they're seedlings, etc., we realized that we could become a source, instead of sink, of this type of information for many species. We hope that this website provides you valuable information for your revegetation project. For more information on this project, please click here.
For information on seed collection, seed counts, and seedling identification, see project overview.
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.