If you were to ask ten people to name something special about LLELA, chances are you would get ten different answers. While there are many things that make LLELA special, one thing in particular is the unique location of the property. The boundary line of the Cross Timbers forest and the Blackland Prairie runs North-South through the property. These two ecoregions weave a mosaic of trees and grassland throughout the property.
One of the best places to see an example of this is on the Blackjack Trail. The Blackjack Trail meanders under the lush canopies of mature trees and through pockets of sunny grassland. These pockets of grassland are called prairie glades and are a natural transition between forest and prairie. The fragile prairie glades are disappearing due to the encroachment of woody vegetation. Prior to the settlers arriving, fire and other natural elements kept the glades from becoming overrun with trees and shrubs. These prairie glades are important because there are many species of plants and animals that depend on them. A restoration effort is underway led by a LLELA volunteer and Master Naturalist, Scott Kiester. Scott has done extensive research on prairie glades, and he is leading other volunteers in the process of restoring the glades along the Blackjack trail to their original condition prior to the arrival of the first settlers. Restoration of the remnant glades consists of removing the undesirable woody vegetation and non-native grasses and planting native prairie grasses and wildflowers that have been harvested from other areas of the property.
As you walk along the trail you may see protective netting or wire around certain plants. The netting is temporary and is designed to keep various animals from eating the tender young plants that have been recently planted.
This restoration project is well underway and gaining momentum. Enjoy a walk along the trail to follow the progress.
Story and photos by Susan Myers
LLELA volunteer Scott Kiester in the middle of a prairie glade on the Blackjack Trail.
Using an auger to dig a hole for a plant.
Planting Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)
Deer excluder over a new planting