State Wildlife Grant - T-41-R

Project Title

Grassland Bird and Invertebrate Distribution and Response to Fire Management within the Grand Forks County Saline Prairie Focus Area

Target Species

Grassland birds and invertebrates

Timeline

April 2014 -- March 2017

Investigators

Dr. Kathryn Yurkonis and Dr. Brett Goodwin, University of North Dakota

Description

Grassland tracts within the Grand Forks Prairie Project (GFPP) area have either been idle for decades (e.g., many private lands under absentee ownership, UND’s Oakville Prairie, the NDGF Crawford Oakville Prairie Wildlife Management Area, and tracts within the NDGF Prairie-Chicken Wildlife Management Area) or managed with moderate grazing (cattle, bison) and haying practices (e.g., family-owned private land, tracts within the NDGF Prairie-Chicken Wildlife Management Area). Fire is occasionally used on public and private lands to promote forage production and, in conjunction with chemical and mechanical means, to control woody plant encroachment (Russian Olive, Snowberry). Unfortunately, these efforts have not been implemented systematically or consistently and, as a result, the landscape lacks the breadth of habitat types that would maximize diversity in the local grassland invertebrate and bird communities. The proposed project will specifically address three conservation needs within the region. First, we will generate baseline data on grassland habitat (native/non-native composition, functional composition, structure) and the use of that habitat by birds and invertebrates across public and private lands. Second, we will reintroduce fire on the Oakville Prairie complex and work with NDGF to reintroduce fire on the NDGF Prairie Chicken Wildlife Management Area complexes. Finally, we will engage with private landowners to incorporate working lands into landscape management goals for SoCP.