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USGS and Students Restore Disappearing Prairie

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The Louisiana coastal-prairie ecosystem once contained 2.5 million acres; today it covers less than 100 acres. Wiped out mostly by farming and grazing, this ecosystem once boasted 500 species of grasses and perennial wildflowers and was home to bison, antelope, prairie chickens, and mountain lions, among other species. USGS botanist Larry Allain (National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, LA) is heading up a joint prairie-restoration project between the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (ULL)'s chapter of Americorps and the USGS' National Wetlands Research Center.

volunteers dig up grasses and perennials
Transplant harvest: Americorps volunteers from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette dig up grasses and perennials from a remnant of the coastal prairie that will be destroyed to make room for a four-lane highway.
volunteers prepare ground for planting
Transplant implant: With the guidance of USGS researchers, Americorps volunteers prepare the ground for planting of endangered prairie grasses and wildflowers at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette's Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology.

Recently, Americorps volunteers relocated 5,000 ft2 of endangered prairie grasses, such as big bluestem grass and Indian grass, to a site at the ULL's Center for Ecology and Environmental Technology (CEET). The relocation was necessary to save as many species as possible before this section of prairie is cleared to make way for a four-lane highway. At CEET, this "refuge" of cultivated coastal-prairie species will be used for research, restoration, and education. Larry hopes that enough of the prairie can be planted so that eventually sufficient seed can be produced to make it practical to restore large areas of this imperiled ecosystem. For more information, visit the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society's Web site.

Related Web Sites
National Wetlands Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Gas-Hydrate Research Wells Completed

Moloka'i Coral Reef Sediment

Research Role of Parasites in Ecosystems

Outreach Public Art Project

Prairie Restoration

Marine Science Day

Marine Environmental Careers Symposium

Students Visit Woods Hole

Congressional Briefing on Wetlands

Woods Hole Science Fairs

Talks—DOE and College of William and Mary

Meetings Netherlands Sediment-Transport Collaboration

Sediment-Transport Modeling

Tampa Bay Estuary Tour

Awards Monterey Bay Research Award

Staff & Center News Japanese Land-Management Team Visits St. Pete

Western Region Retirements

Woods Hole Visitor

Publications April Publications List

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