It’s been busy at the Overlook these past few months! PEC is in the final year of a cost-share agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve the property’s habitat and increase its biodiversity. The marquee part of this grant is the creation of a 17-acre native grass and wildflower meadow on land that was formerly a pasture dominated by tall fescue.
Since PEC took cattle off the property, we’ve looked for ways to keep the fields open to maintain the viewshed, improve habitat for wildlife and bush-hog less. Native meadow does all of these things. After several years of planning and weed control, the meadow was seeded this May.
We planted native species, which are valuable to pollinators, resistant to deer browse, and bloom at different times and in different colors. These specific plants will grow to a maximum of four feet to maximize visibility.
The two acres that immediately surround the Memorial are “high diversity” meadow. This will be the showcase for the butterfly wildflower area, where visitors can see at least 13 different species of wildflowers and all the wildlife they support. For the bulk of the meadow, we planted a “medium diversity” mix, which is about 50 percent grass and 50 percent wildflower.
Grasses are present throughout the entire meadow, and they provide the structure for many wildlife, such as sparrows that like to nest in their clumpy tufts. On the steeper, less accessible areas, we planted a “low diversity” mix that is 70 percent grasses, which helps prevent erosion.
Our meadow may not look that impressive in the first year because most natives spend their youth growing strong roots before growing upward. Meadows take patience. We started ours in 2012, and it won’t be “finished” until 2015. These are very dynamic ecosystems, and they are always changing. So, we’ll have to wait and see what adjustments might be needed.
Besides the meadow, PEC has embarked on an innovative, long-term approach to restore native hardwood forest in a very invasive area by planting pine trees and letting natural succession occur. Stay tuned for more details on that effort. Also, be on the lookout for our public events at the Memorial! Visit pecva.org/events, and plan your next trip out to see us!
This article was featured in our Summer 2014 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.