Former farmland being restored as prairie

Photos by Jason Hawk | Oberlin News-Tribune

Wildflower seeds and seed balls were cast Sunday across a 30-acre section of the Oberlin Great South Woods on Hamilton Street. Part of a larger area of forest, wetland, and sedge meadow, the section was previously farmed and is being restored to nature prairie while it’s relatively clear of invasive plants. Oberlin College environment students and track and field team members worked alongside local residents to help the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy on the project. More than 20 pitched in, disturbing the soil as a little as possible while working to restore it for bees and other pollinators, such as monarch butterflies. The conservancy acquired the land in 2015 and the entire area will be transferred to the Lorain County Metro Parks at some undetermined point.

“Prairie ecosystems attract a diversity of wildlife as habitat for grassland birds and key pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, and ants,” said Kate Pilacky, associate field director for the land conservancy. “More grassland habitats have disappeared than any other habitat type on the continent because of sprawl, climate change, and conversion to cropland and forest. A vast community of pollinators and birds is tied to these rich prairie habitats, and they are losing huge portions of their homes.”