Naturalist Notes September 2017

Naturalist Notes

September 2017

As summer comes to an end and fall begins, our native warm-season grasses can be seen swaying in the wind. These grasses provide many ecological benefits to the park. While they may not attract as many pollinators as our prairie forbs, they are, undoubtedly, an equally important asset to the Park.

  • Habitat: During warmer months, these grasses provide excellent nesting sites form small mammals and birds. The cover of their long blades provide an excellent buffer between animals and the cold winters we experience here atthe park. Some of the grasses can remain upright, even with a foot of snow on top!
  • Protection: The tall grasses also provide a hiding place for young animals and insects. It is estimated that the establishment of a tallgrass prairie can increase the bird life of the area by 10x!
  • Food: The blades, roots, and seeds provide food for a variety of wildlife. Walking past the prairies, you are bound to hear many insects and birds that are attracted to this food source.
  • Erosion Prevention: The deep roots help to keep the soil in place, especially when we experience the gusty lakefront winds. A single acre of tall grass prairie can have up to 24,000lbs of roots!
  • Nutrient Cycling: The roots of these native warm-season grasses die off and decompose, returningnutrients to that soil during winter. The grasses rely on seeds dropped in early fall to re-emerge in spring. This is unlike short cool-season grasses which maintain their roots throughout winter (the grass in your front lawn is a cool-season grass).

We have some exciting events happening at the Park this month and we’d love to have you here! In addition to our usual events, we have our 10th Anniversary Beach Bonfire on September 20th (7-9pm) and SturgeonFest on September 30th (11am-3pm; sponsor a sturgeon to release yourself at!)

Lakeshore State Park

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources