Pluggin’ away in the Prairie – Plug planting on the McKim-Garsonnin Property!
Tall grass prairie habitat is an endangered grassland ecosystem that is dominated by native grasses along with a dazzling array of native wildflowers. Tall grass prairie habitat is an important home to many grassland birds, rare wildlife, butterflies and plant species.
20% of plants that are designated as ‘rare’ in Ontario are associated with tall grass prairie and savanna habitats
Protected prairies, such as KLT’s protected McKim-Garsonnin Property
are the only places these rare plants can thrive!
Join us September 30th as we harvest the seed for next year’s plant.
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Tall grass prairie communities have decreased rapidly, leaving only 3% of this habitat existing in Ontario and North America.
Historically, tall grass prairie and savanna habitat types made up a portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine, but today these habitats are considered rare, covering less than 1% of the 160 km Moraine.
The decline of this grassland habitat is largely due to agricultural and development. The lack of wildfires in southern Ontario has also allowed forest species to infringe on the open prairie habitat.
Prairie grassland habitat that exists today are in small fragmented patches and are not the large open plains they were when indigenous people in the area relied on them.
The good news is that there are several organizations working together to restore this habitat type and bringing back the species that flourish in the prairies!
The McKim-Garsonnin property – protected by KLT through a conservation easement agreement – has a dedicated area for prairie grass restoration. For more than 10 years, Ralph McKim has been managing the tall grass prairie by germinating tall grass plants such as Little Blue Stem, Big Blue Stem, and Sideoats Grama during the winter in homemade greenhouses and with the help of volunteers planting these plugs in the prairie!
2,400 prairie grass plugs planted this year (2018) by Ralph, volunteers and KLT
This process was made easy by what Ralph likes to call a “Dibbler.” This device, which was hand crafted by Ralph’s brother, is similar to a sod plugger but has an end that is the exact same size as the grass plugs so once you “dibble” a hole you just put the plug in and repeat. Fast and efficient!
We even had the next generation of stewards helping to plant!
Since starting this project we have seen species emerge that have not been on the property for many years such as Round-headed bush clover, Wild Bergamont, Grey-headed coneflower.
By re-creating this ecosystem, Ralph has invited grassland birds such as the declining grasshopper sparrows and several different species of butterflies back to this area!
With further work and volunteer support, we can continue to manage and grow this prairie grass habitat and create a sanctuary for the diverse species that rely on this distinct habitat for their needs.
Thank you to Ralph and Jean for their vision to protect this wonderful area and for the volunteers who have helped with this project.
Posted August 1, 2018.