Warrior Sedge Wetland Restoration by Citizens for Conservation at Flint Creek Savanna

By Kevin Scheiwiller

Kevin Scheiwiller

Goals of Project:

  1. Find a technique that can be used to sustainably rebuild streamside marsh, sedge meadow, and seeps in areas formerly dominated by wetland invasives through small trial areas (<1 acre)
  2. If trial plots appear effective, then use this technique on a larger scale (≥ 3 acres) to reclaim wetlands lost to Reed Canary Grass, Cattails, and Phragmites

Measures of success:

Success is defined as the elimination or heavy reduction (>95%) of wetland invasives, with establishment of a diverse matrix of native sedge meadow species.

Technique:

Areas with heavy infestations are herbicided using a 3% glyphosate mixture in the Fall (September through November) of the year prior to planting. Project area is burned in the dormant season after initial herbicide application to remove thatch and flush seed bank. Area is then sprayed a second time with the same mixture in April.

After site prep, areas are planted during volunteer workdays using the 10 warrior sedges (List Below) based on the perceived moisture gradient of the site. Each plug is planted on 2-3 foot centers, tighter if budget allows.

In the Fall (November) areas are then seeded with custom “Sedge Meadow” and “Marsh” seed mixes. All mixes purposely keep native grass species out. This allows for the follow up of the site with a grass specific herbicide.

Two to Five years after original planting, project areas are spot treated for remerging wetland invasives. Reed Canary Grass is sprayed with a 1% Clethodim Solution during Mid-April through May. As no native grasses are present, this allows for quick application with fairly effective results (see GRN post about Clethodim vs. Glyphosate). Cattail and Phragmites are hand wicked in July and August using a 20% Glyphosate solution.

Project Area:

 Plantings over the last 5 years are found on the following map and table. 2017-2020 are considered smaller trial plots. 2021 is considered a larger planting as outline in the Goals section.

PlantingSize of Area (ac)Approx. plugs installed*Overseeded in:Approx. total amount of seed since planting (lbs)**
20170.352018, 2019, 202028.75
20180.182,1662018, 2019, 202028.75
20190.381,9002019, 2020, 202119.15
20200.432,1662020, 202121.41
20213.3811,096202192.78
*only includes plugs purchased, additional “rescued” sedges
 and volunteer propagated added to areas as well
**seed weights include some amount of chaff, not PLS

Topics to be covered during Grassland Restoration Network Workshop

  • Visiting each “stage” of a planting from newly planted to 5+ years establishment
  • Successes and challenges presented by each planting area
  • Evaluation of the technique and discussion on the practicality of using it on a large scale
  • Future uses, Erosion Control, and use on incised creeks  

Warrior Sedges

  • Wettest
    • Carex lacustris
    • Carex aquatilis
    • Carex utriculate
    • Carex stricta
  • Intermediate
    • Carex sartwellii
    • Carex trichocarpa
    • Carex atherodes
    • Carex emoryi
  • Driest of the wet
    • Carex buxbaumii

Carex pellita

Seed Mixes Used in 2021, most other years feature a similar mix

Sedge Meadow 

Anemone canadensis Meadow Anemone 
Angelica atropurpurea Great Angelica 
Arnoglossum plantagineum Prairie Indian Plantain 
Asclepias incarnata Swamp Milkweed 
Calamagrostis canadensis Blue Joint Grass 
Carex “Wetland” Misc. Wetland Sedges 
Carex hystericina Porcupine Sedge 
Carex vulpinoidea Brown Fox Sedge 
Chelone glabara White Turtlehead 
Eupatorium perfoliatum Common Boneset 
Euthamia graminifolia Smooth Grass-Leaved Goldenrod 
Eutrochium maculatum Spotted Joe Pye Weed 
Hasteola suaveolens Sweet Indian Plantain 
Helianthus occidentalis Western Sunflower 
Hypericum ascyron Great St. John’s Wort 
Liatris spicata Marsh Blazing Star 
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Flower 
Lobelia siphilitica Great Blue Lobelia 
Lycopus americanus Common Water Horehound 
Lysimachia quadriflora Narrow-Leaved Loosestrife 
Lythrum alatum Winged Loosestrife  
Oligoneuron riddellii Riddell’s Goldenrod 
Pedicularis lanceolata Fen Betony  
Pycnanthemum pilosum Hairy Mountain Mint 
Pycnanthemum virginianum Common Mountain Mint 
Rumex orbiculatus Great Water Dock 
Rumex verticillatus Riverbank Dock 
Schoenoplectus pungens Chairmakers Rush 
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani Great Bulrush 
Scirpus atrovirens Dark Green Bulrush 
Scirpus cyperinus Wool Grass 
Scutellaria lateriflora Mad-Dog Skullcap 
Spartina pectinata Prairie Cord Grass 
Symphyotrichum puniceum Bristly Aster 
Teucrium canadense Germander 
Thalictrum dasycarpum Purple Meadow Rue 
Verbena hastata Blue Vervain 
Vernonia fasciculata Common Ironweed 

Marsh 

Acorus americanus Sweet Flag 
Alisma subcordatum Common Water Plantain 
Bidens cernua Nodding Bur Marigold 
Bidens trichosperma Tall Swamp Marigold 
Boehmeria cylindrica Swamp False Nettle 
Juncus effusus Soft Rush 
Mentha canadensis Wild Mint 
Persicaria hydropiperoides Mild Water Pepper 
Sagittaria latifolia Common Arrowhead 
Scirpus microcarpus Reddish Bulrush 
Scutellaria galericulata Marsh Skullcap 
Sium suave Water Parsnip 
Solidago patula Swamp Goldenrod 

About Grassland Restoration Network blog

Bill Kleiman publishes this blog. Bill's daytime job is manager of Nachusa Grasslands. We are looking for guest authors on various topics of grassland habitat restoration. Contact me with your ideas or drafts.
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5 Responses to Warrior Sedge Wetland Restoration by Citizens for Conservation at Flint Creek Savanna

  1. becky janopoulos says:

    Thanks for this, its so interesting and useful. Before and after is amazing! Nice work!

  2. Kaleb Baker says:

    Great work Kevin! Thanks for sharing the tables. I’d love to know why the sites were overseeded for 3 consecutive years as opposed to seeding more heavily for one or two years. Maybe you’ll answer that at the GRN Workshop.

  3. James McGee says:

    Handwicking twenty percent active ingredient glyphosate onto cattails and phragmites is too high. This is approaching the concentration I apply to cut stumps or frills on buckthorn. Even if the 20 percent was a volume-to-volume dilution for ~50 percent glyphosate the resulting concentration would be more than is necessary for treating cattails.

    I have done trials to determine the minimum concentration to control crown vetch. At progressively higher concentrations of glyphosate, progressively less vegetation grew in the plots the next year. This included not only less crown vetch invading from the edges of the plot. There was also less Oenothera biennis establishing from seed and a smaller mass of all perennial vegetation which was not the target of the herbicide application. Only now, after a few years is the vegetation in the higher concentration plots beginning to recover to the point that these plots are less noticeable from surrounding areas.

    I don’t know the concentration that is the minimum concentration required for treating cattails or phragmites at any given location. Only conducting trials and monitoring results of past applications will determine the minimum concentration that is effective. However, twenty percent active ingredient is probably double what is necessary for controlling phragmites if the Illinois Vegetation Management Guidelines are accurate and about five times the concentration needed to control cattails according to Nathan Herbert’s post on this blog.

  4. Pingback: Synthesizing the 2022 Conserving Fragmented Prairies Workshop Part 3 – Grazing, Invasives, and Expression | The Prairie Ecologist

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