The Prairie by yaosaigeng


									The Prairie
     What is the Prairie?

• Grassland
 – Usually temperate climate.
 – Usually intercontinental.
 – Relatively flat.
• The word prairie is derived from the
  French word “prataria”, or meadow,
  which probably originated with the Latin
  word “pratum”.

• It was coined by the French explorers
  and trappers moving into Western
  Canada and south into the US, during
  the late 18th century, to describe the
  “sea of grass”.
     Grasslands of the World

•   Central Africa - savanna
•   Southern Africa - veldt
•   Eurasia - steppe
•   Australia - lowlands
•   South America - pampas
•   South America - llanos
       How Was the Prairie
• Mountain development to the west created a
  rain shadow, which favored the establishment
  of grasslands over forests.
• Drought tolerant plants persisted or
  immigrated from nearby.
• Grasses thrived, creating a fuel load that
  could carry fire, trees, and shrubs were not
  able to recover as quickly.
    The Prairie Was Further
        Developed By:
• Fire - short fire return interval.
 The Prairie Was Further
     Developed By:
– Presence of large herbivores.
During the Great Ice Age (Pleistocene Age) the ice
sheets lapped onto the Northern Plains, but the Great
Plains was the largely unglaciated region that extends
from the Gulf Coastal Plain in Texas northward into
Canada between the Central Lowland and the foot of
the Rocky Mountains.
   The Prairie Was Further
       Developed By:

• Extended periods of drought.

• Relatively short growing season.
        Types of Prairies
The simplest division: by height
  – Tall grass
  – Mixed or mid-grass
  – Short grass
By soil type:
  – Sandhills of Nebraska
  – Blackland Prairie of east Texas
         Laramie County
• Some mixed grass prairie in the western
  part of the county.

• Mostly short grass prairie throughout
  the rest of the county.

• Some tall grass prairie grasses in wetter
      Short Grass Prairie

• Two major components:

  – Bluegrama (Bouteloua gracilis).

  – Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides).
Blue Grama
Buffalo Grass
        Mixed Grass Prairie
• Grasses
  –   Needle & thread      (Stipa comata)
  –   Western wheatgrass   (Agropyron smithii)
  –   Sandberg bluegrass   (Poa secunda)
  –   Needleleaf sedge     (Carex eleocharis)
  –   Junegrass             (Koeleria cristata)
  –   Indian ricegrass     (Orzyopsis hymenoides)
Needle and Thread
         Mixed Grass Prairie
• Forbs:

  –   Pricklypear cactus    (Opuntia polyacantha)
  –   Scarlet globemallow   (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
  –   Fringed sage          (Artemisia frigida)
  –   Hooded phlox          (Phlox hoodii)
Scarlet Globemallow
Fringed Sage
Hooded Phlox
        Grasses in General
• Sod formers versus bunch grasses:
   – Sod formers make a mat and spread by rhizomes
     (above or underground stems).
   – Bunch grasses grow in small clumps.
• Cool season versus warm season:
   – C3 grasses are active when it’s cool and dormant
     in heat (less drought tolerant).
   – C4 grasses are actively growing in the hot
     summer and dormant in the winter (very drought
   – A true photosynthetic pathway difference.
NRCS, Bozeman, MT
     How are Grasses Adapted
    to the Prairie Environment?
•     Mostly herbaceous plant tissue:
     – Cheaper for the plant to manufacture every year.

•     Meristematic tissue (growth buds) are very close to
      the soil surface:
     – Well protected during fire, soil temperatures
         during a grass fire remain relatively low.
     – Difficult to graze the meristematic tissue.
         More Adaptations
• Regrowth of leaves and/or stems from
  intercalary tissue = new leaf tissue can be
  produced from the leaf itself, no buds
• Carbohydrates from photosynthesis are
  translocated to protected area beneath the
  soil surface in roots, rhizomes, bulbs, etc.
• About 75% of the grassland biomass occurs
  below the soil surface = a large amount of
  stored energy.
• Wind pollinated.
    Drought Adaptations of
       Prairie Grasses
• Leaves – small and narrow (reduces area
  exposed for transpiration and heat absorption.
• Leaves - often with pubescence (slows rate of
  transpiration and reflects solar radiation).
• Leaves - deciduous .
• Early growth period when moisture is available
• Very deeply rooted.
                              Forage Production 1988-1994
        2000                                                                            160





                                                                                              % Normal Precipitation

        1000                                                                            80




                      kg/ha                 % Normal Precipitation (123 years)

          0                                                                             0
               1988    1989       1990   1991         1992          1993         1994

   What is the Status of the
• Less than 1% of the tall grass prairie remains,
  most has been turned into cropland, or
  drastically changed by haying or grazing.
• About 24% of the mixed grass prairie is intact,
  most has been converted to cropland or
  seeded to non-native forage species.
• About 18% of the short grass prairie is intact,
  it has also been heavily impacted by grazing
  of domestic livestock.
Managing your Piece
   of the Prairie

640 acres   Sixteen 40 acre parcels
Types of Property Available
    in Laramie County
• Rangeland

• CRP - Conservation Reserve

• Farmed or fallowed ground

•   Average rangeland will have about 50%.
•   Basal cover.
•   Diverse species composition.
•   Adequate seed bank.
•   Soil structure.
• 20 - 25% basal cover.
• High percentage of smooth brome
  (lower production, introduced species).
• Less diverse plant community.
• Easily eroded.
    Farmed or Fallow Ground
•   10% basal cover or less.
•   Highly erodible by wind or water.
•   Weed invasion if not planted by next.
•   Growing season.
     WY Fencing Statutes

11-28-101. Who considered owner.
• Any person occupying, using, enjoying,
  maintaining or having the charge of any
  enclosure shall be considered the
  owner thereof, in any action
  commenced under the provisions of
  W.S. 11-28-101 through 11-28-108.
      Minimum Construction
• 11-28-102. Lawful fences generally.

    – (a) The following are lawful fences in this state:

• (i) A fence made of steel, concrete or sound wooden posts and
  three (3) spans of barbed wire not more than fifteen (15) inches
  or less than ten (10) inches apart, or two (2) spans of barbed
  wire with a wooden rail on top. Wooden posts shall be at least
  four (4) inches in diameter. Posts shall be set firmly in the
  ground at least twenty (20) inches deep, at no greater distance
  apart than twenty-two (22) feet between the posts or thirty-three
  (33) feet with at least two (2) iron or wooden stays between the
  posts. Stays shall be placed equal distance apart from
   themselves and the post on either side;
• 11-28-106. Construction and maintenance of partition

• The owner of any lawful fence which is or becomes a partition
  fence separating the owner's land from that belonging to some
  other person may require the person to pay for one-half (1/2) of
  what it would or does actually cost to construct the partition
  fence. In case of refusal, the owner may maintain a civil action
  against the person refusing and is entitled to recover one-half
  (1/2) of what it would or did actually cost to construct that portion
  of the partition fence used by the person and costs of suit. The
  joint users of a partition fence shall contribute to the cost of
  maintenance in proportion to their respective interests and if
  either refuses to pay his share of the cost of maintenance, the
  other may recover maintenance costs in the manner provided
  for recovering the cost of construction.
         WY Dog Statutes
            ARTICLE 3

• 11-31-301. Public nuisance; notice;
  penalties; rules and regulations;
  animal control districts and officers.
  – (d) A dog injuring or killing livestock may
    be killed by the owner of the livestock or
    his agent or any peace officer.
       Consequences of

• Loss of desirable species.
• Loss of soil due to wind and water
• Invasion of weeds.
 Take Half
Leave Half

Adapted from NRCS, Bozeman, MT
 Approximate Grazing Length and
       Regrowth Periods
Season        Grazing Length   Regrowth Period

Spring          4 – 5 days      10 – 14 days

Summer         9 – 10 days      21 – 30 days

Late Summer    12 – 15 days     30 – 45 days
Loss of Topsoil
How do Weeds Ensure Their
• They take advantage of the characteristics of
  sites, including:
   – exposed or disturbed soil (grading road
   – turfgrass, range, pasture or groundcover
      that is weakened by disease, pests, or
      poor management.
   – places where a desired species is not
      well-adapted to its environment.
How do Weeds Ensure Their
 • They are very competitive:
    – grow well in spite of interference
      from other plants.
 • They are persistent:
    – will return year after year.
    – reproduce vigorously.
    – spread seeds effectively.
How do Weeds Ensure Their
• They are harmful.
  – can alter the site they grow in by
    accumulating salts, changing water
    table depths, increasing erosion,
    increasing wildfire frequency, etc.
    How do Weeds Spread?

• Natural means:
  – wind
  – water
  – animals


    How do Weeds Spread?

•   Mechanical means:
    – Irrigation
    – Roadside shoulder work
    – Construction/fill dirt
    – Vehicles
    – Tillage                  UNCE, Reno, NV

    – Contaminated seed or
    – Livestock management
Downy Brome (Bromus tectorum L.)
Winter annual.
Smooth erect stem; visible
ligule with frayed margin.
Reproduces by seed (up to one
Grass family (Poaceae).

                 Seeds are long and flat with an awn
                 as long as the seed.
                 Mature plants turn purple to brown
                 as they dry.
                 Increases fire frequency.
                           Field Bindweed
                        (Convolvulus arvensis)

Morningglory family
Alternate, arrowhead-shaped leaves
on climbing stems.
                                 Flowers are trumpet-shaped
                                 and white to pinkish.
                                 Reproduces by seeds which
                                 remain viable for up to 50
                                 years and rootstocks.
Russian Thistle (Salsola iberica)


         Goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae).
         Bushy, ½ foot to 3 feet tall, with
         many branches, red on stems.
         Red or green flowers.
         Reproduces by seed: seed spreads
         as plants break off and tumble,
         hence name “tumbleweed”.
              Now what?

• Go home and inventory the weeds on your
• Have the weeds identified.
• Why do you have a weed problem? What
  can you change about the way you manage
  your property that will decrease the weed
• Develop and implement a plan.
 Successful weed management
requires constant vigilance and
  care on the part of the land

Other Impacts
Reducing Impact from Wind

• Terminology:
  – Windbreak can be 1 row or multiple
    rows, can be manmade, or natural.
  – Shelterbelt is a type of windbreak with
    multiple rows of trees and shrubs.
  – Living snowfence is another term for
    a living windbreak.

• Increase the value of your property.
• Decrease heating bills.
• Capture snow:
   – Reduce drifting on roads.
   – Increase soil moisture.
• Provide wildlife habitat.
      Create a Windbreak

• Manmade windbreak:
  –a quick fix that can help establish
    the living windbreak.
• Living Windbreak:
  –a great long term solution.
Rocky Mountain Forest &
Range Experiment Station
On a Smaller Scale
         Choosing a Site

• Usually on the north and west property
  lines to block prevailing winter winds.
• Usually straight lines.
• 40 feet from a county or state road.
           General Layout
• Usually at least 3 rows .
• One species per row.
• Usually a deciduous shrub as the outside row.
   Theory: they will grow more quickly and
    begin acting as a windbreak for the
• One or two rows of evergreens.
• Another row of deciduous shrubs if there is
       Species Selection

• Well adapted to wind, extremes in
  temperature, and drought.
• Well documented.
• Native or non-native.
• Wildlife habitat.
     Species Information

• Laramie County Conservation District
  has a lot of information, even if you
  don’t buy plants from them.
• Internet: Nebraska, North Dakota, and
  Canada research sites.
• “Growing Trees on the Great Plains”.
• Conservation District:
  – Wide species variety.
  – Very little size selection.
• Green Acres in LaGrange (Steve Williams).
  – More selection (size & species) if
    you order early.
• Fort Collins Nurseries:
     • Fossil Creek.
     Other Considerations

• Drip irrigation.
• Weed barrier.
• Till the soil or leave the soil intact and
  dig holes.
• Mulch, and if so, with what?
            Planting Day

• Call Before You Dig 800-849-2476.
• Plant as soon as possible, store cool
  and damp until planting.
• Do not expose to sunlight or wind.
• Stretch a line to keep the row straight.
• Dig a $5.00 hole for a $0.50 tree.
• Water well.
        Drip Irrigation for
• Buy a soil moisture meter.
• Keep a written schedule.
• Run multiple lines for multiple rows of
  trees and shrubs.
• Check emitters – make sure every plant
  is getting water.
• Water frequently the first year.
          More on Mulch
• Necessary to suppress the grass.
• Mulch can eliminate the need for weed
• Rock or gravel is fine, until you have to mow.
• Alfalfa hay is good, but not grass hay.
• Sawdust or shavings create a mat, not
  enough air or water gets through, burns up
  available nitrogen.
• Bark or wood chips are very good.
 Care and Feeding of Your
• Replace dead trees and shrubs within 1 year:
  – Expect about 30% death loss.
  – Want an even age windbreak.
• Mow between trees and between rows until
  well established.
• Discourage ground varmints.
• Water in the winter.
• Consider using an anti transpirant in the
    Small Mammal and Rodent

•   Rabbits & hares.
•   Prairie dogs.
•   Pocket gophers.
•   Ground squirrels.
•   Mice.
• True rabbits include :
• Mountain Cottontail
  (Sylvilagus nuttalli)
• Desert cottontail
  (Sylvilagug audubonii),
• Pygmy rabbit
  (Sylvilagus idahoensis)
             About Rabbits
•Paired tracks commonly indicate cottontails
 or jackrabbits.
•Prefer lots of cover.
•Cottontails leave pea-sized droppings.
•Damage is recognized by a sharp 45
 degree cut on small twigs from a few
 inches to 20 inches above ground.
•Common foods are garden vegetables,
 flowers, and shrubs.
Hind Feet

Front Feet
        Controls for Rabbits

•An 18-inch high fence can exclude
     cottontails from small areas.
•On individual plants, use 1 square inch or
     less of mesh.
•Remove brushy and weedy habitat.
•Most domestic dogs can discourage rabbits.
• Whitetail and blacktail
  "jackrabbits" (Lepus
  townsendii and L.
  californicus) actually are
  hares. Our only other
  hare is the snowshoe
  hare (L. americanus),
  which lives in mountains
  except the very driest
        About Hares
•Do not hibernate.
•Prefer open range.
•Also have paired tracks.
•Droppings are small marble size.
•Nests are small depressions.
•Young are born with fur.
      Controls for Hares

•24-inch high fence will exclude them
     from small areas or individual
•Domestic dogs can discourage them.
•Do not mow, let pasture grasses be
Prairie Dogs
     About Prairie Dogs
• Don’t hibernate.
• Are diurnal.
• Exist in dense colonies, create 30 to 50
      6-inch burrows and mounds per acre.
• Bean-sized cylindrical droppings .
• Grasses and broad-leaved plants clipped at
     one-inch height.
•Occasional bark stripping occurs on shrubs.
•Black widow spiders and rattlesnakes are
       associated with colonies.
   Controls for Prairie Dogs

• Some minor effects have been shown by placing
  poles and other perch sites for large hawks and
  barrier fences, hay bales and other obstacles that
  prey upon prairie dogs.
• Proper grazing use--rotate livestock through pasture
  systems, avoid season-long grazing but graze early
  spring, place salt and water for livestock away from
  prairie dog towns; exclude livestock for several
  seasons post control of prairie dogs.
Pocket Gophers
    About Pocket Gophers
• Don’t hibernate.
• Nocturnal and diurnal.
• Dinner plate-sized mounds with no entrance.
• Tracks and animal are almost never seen
  above ground.
• Pocket gophers girdle growing trees and
  shrubs at or near ground level. Trees up to
  several inches in trunk diameter can be killed.
• A gopher can move up to two tons of soil each
After the snow melts
The rest of the year
Pocket gopher damage
         Controls for Pocket
• Area flooding
• Domestic cats
• Owls
• Humans may take occasional gophers
  during evening and night forays
• Fence buried at least 18 inches below the
  soil surface.
Ground Squirrels
         Ground Squirrels
Wyoming ground
   About Ground Squirrels
• Do Hibernate.
• Aer Diurnal.
• Show no excavated earth around
       Controls for Ground
• Exclude from small areas, encourage tall
  vegetation (13-lined ground squirrel).
• Don't mow tall grasses, reduce seedbearing
  weedy plants. Moist soils/overhead irrigation
  during day. Prevent digging in seedling gardens
  by planting cold-tolerant varieties before ground
  squirrel emergence in early spring.
• 18-inch high 1/4 to 1/2-inch mesh hardware cloth
  (hail screen)buried 6 inches below ground.
              About Mice

• Don;t hibernate.
• Mostly nocturnal with some daytime activity.
• Mice may dig and feed on newly planted
• Occasionally and particularly during late
  winter, mice gnaw or girdle small, woody
• Damage can be above or at ground level.
      Controls for Mice
• Remove or mow weeds and
• Sanitation through clean-up of
  grains or other attractants.
• Restrict water access.
The Best Control of All =
 Balanced Ecosystem
Water Rights in Wyoming
     Water Law in Wyoming
• Prior Appropriations Doctrine - First in
  time (if permitted) is first in right - Allows
  for regulation of water by setting up seniority of rights
• Water rights that date to territorial time
• All water owned by State, use must be
           Surface Water
• Most old water rights are surface water -
  surface water is easy to develop and easy to
• “Source” can be many miles from the area
  where water is used - water crossing your
  land is not free for your use, more than
  likely it is already appropriated?
• Approximately 80 “hydrographers” administer
  surface water rights in Wyoming. One
  individual covers most of Laramie County.
           Ground Water
• Domestic and stock wells limited to 25
  gallons per minute by law.
• Domestic use is defined as water for
  household use for 3 or less single family
  dwellings and non commercial garden.
  Landscape water of no more than 1 acre.
• Commercial uses (including greenhouses
  or businesses growing for market) have
  additional permitting requirements.
           Ground Water

• Three ground water control areas have
  been setup where use equals or exceeds
  the ground water resource - currently deals
  with high production wells, stock and
  domestic; exempt from control area
  advisory board review.
• Laramie County, Platte County, Prairie
  Center Control Areas due to high water use
  by agriculture.
           Ground Water
• Domestic and stock watering are
  preferred uses under State Statute, but
  not in State Constitution. This gray area
  will have to be decided by the courts
  when conflict between users escalates.
• No mandatory well driller licensing
  program, voluntary program adopted by
  legislature in 2004.
           Your Water Well
• Minimum well construction guidelines
  – November 2004 State Engineer’s Office
     • working on update to 1974 minimum construction
       standards that are currently in place
     • 20 feet from property line
     • 100 feet from leach field
     • must have surface seal to prevent contamination - 10 ft.
       require by standards, few actually have seal installed.
  – Proper Construction can be important in quality
    and quantity of water produced (sand content,
    water quality, longevity of well and pump
        More On Your Well
• You are not guaranteed a static water level or
  artesian pressure.
• Obtaining a Ground Water Permit does not
  guarantee that you will be able to construct a
  “good” water well. Geology dictates what is or
  is not available.
• Having the oldest house on the block does not
  mean you have senior right. If you have a
  well, you should verify the status of your water
  right, especially if you plan to complain about
  your neighbors.
  For Additional Information Related to Water,
     Water Rights, or Water Wells contact:
       Wyoming State Engineer’s Office
             General 307 777-7354
      Ground Water 307 777-7730 or 6688

        or visit
 For basic water well information for well owners
see: National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
           Water Testing
• Bacterial (Coliform)
  – City County Health Department
    • Free
    • Twice a year
• Water Quality
  – Wyoming Department of Agriculture

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