South Texas Natives Holds Restoration Field Day
By Rhoda Poenisch
South Texas Natives of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute and King Ranch held a field day on “Restoration of Lands Impacted by Oil and Gas Production Activities” on April 21, 2016 to show results for two restoration projects on the King Ranch. The following is a brief description of those projects and their success.
The first site visited was a recent pipeline construction along 12 miles of the ranch for a total of 210 acres. It was planned meticulously and succeeded because of the extensive planning and cooperation of all of the parties involved AND sufficient rainfall at critical times.
Eleven grass species and two forbs were planted: slender grama, multiflowered false rhodesgrass, hooded wildmill grass, shortspike windmillgrass, plains bristlegrass, hairy grama, Arizona cottontop, whiplash pappusgrass, sideoats grama, Hall’s panicum, Canada wildrye, awnless bush sunflower, and prostrate bundleflower. Welder Germplasm shortspike windmillgrass provided the most cover. The reseeding was done at the end of October, 2014 and was done by broadcasting followed by light dragging.
This site demonstrated the great success of a well-planned project and the absolute possibility of restoring native vegetation after a major disruption such as a pipeline.
The second site showed restoration of old well pads constructed between 1974 and 1988 when the normal procedure was to scrape the vegetation off the site and cover it with caliche with little thought of restoration. This is no longer the method used. Now they remove the top soil, lay down caliche and drill. After drilling, the caliche is removed and the top soil put back in place and reseeded with either natives or non-natives.
This project was anticipated to be a real challenge, but the project had very successful results. Wells were plugged in the summer of 2011. The ranch’s lease agreement required ripping and disking following pad removal. Four inches of rain fell in September, 2011. Following rain, the area was sprayed with glyphosate and 2,4 D amine herbicides to control weeds and planted the same day. Seeds were broadcast using a Truax Flex II seed drill. Three grazing enclosures per pad were installed within a few days of planting. One of the primary things to learn from a project like this is to put what you expect in writing in the lease. Do not assume any oil company will do what you want if you have not agreed upfront and put it all in writing.
After the field trip, presentations concerning the projects were given. Pipeline restoration research conducted by STN was discussed by Keith Pawelek. Detailed results from the pad restoration project were given by Tony Falk, who headed that project.
After that, those who were interested were given a tour of the field plots at the STN nursery. That was interesting and encouraging for the future of native vegetation in Texas. STN is growing five varieties of milkweed and learning what works so that there will one day be a viable source for growers and gardeners who want to help promote monarch butterflies.
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Next meeting: Saturday, July 23, 2016, 10:00 am-12:00 noon—Carol Goolsby on native plants: “Not Pretty Enough” Information about natives and some of the most wonderful plant photos you will ever have seen. South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center, 8545 S Staples St, Corpus Christi, TX 78413. Note time change to accommodate STXBGNC members
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President Ray Kirkwood