A good, healthy grassland, unlike a lawn, is best if it has some bare spots.
"An ideal grassland for wildlife has 30% or more bare ground," says Marne Titchenell, a wildlife specialist with Ohio State University Extension. "That's hard to achieve and requires constant management in the form of disking or burning."
But the benefits make it worth it, she says. You'll get bobwhites, bobolinks, meadowlarks and more, all of which need some open ground among all the grasses for nesting. Deer, foxes, kestrels, harriers and butterflies will live there too, to name just a few.
"Grasslands, especially those seeded with native warm-season grasses, are a native ecosystem in Ohio that has declined drastically since settlement, and many grassland wildlife species have declined with them," says Titchenell, who's working to turn that around.
She'll teach "Managing Grasslands for Wildlife" together with Rob Chapman, a wildlife specialist with Purdue University Extension, on Aug. 19 at Ohio State University's Gwynne Conservation Area near London. It's an in-service workshop for professionals in natural resources -- land managers from metroparks and other public lands.
"We'll cover management tools from burning and mowing to disking to herbicide treatment," Titchenell says. "We'll discuss the establishment of grasslands and the best species mixes to use," including not just grasses -- switchgrass, big bluestem and Indian grass, for starters -- but wildflowers too, such as sunflower and purple coneflower.
Titchenell said participants will leave with new knowledge about what to plant, how to manage it and the wildlife to expect.
Download the program brochure, which includes the full list of topics, at http://go.osu.edu/ECc.
"The Gwynne," as it's known, has 10 or so grassland acres, which are used for tests and demonstrations. The afternoon part of the workshop will be spent in those fields.
The program runs from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Registration costs $35 and includes lunch and materials. Pre-registration is required by Aug. 12. Online registration is available at http://go.osu.edu/ECN.
For more information, call 614-688-3421 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSU Extension's Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, which helps people know their resources better, and manage them better as well, is the sponsor.