For several years now farmers and landowners have been offered a government program known as the Conservation Reserve Program(CRP). This program was created in order to restore native plant species to the landscape whereas non-native invasive species have taken over. It has been and continues to be an uphill battle due to the resistance of the invasive.
These invasive species number by the hundreds but most problematic and common, although it may go unnoticed, include tall fescue, smooth brome, multiflora rose, and ceresia lespedeza. A large portion of the invasives are a cool-season species, such as the fescue. These species hinder growth of the original natives by competition and lack beneficial cover or food for native wildlife especially upland birds.
Upland wildlife species need native grasses for food, cover, and brood rearing habitat. Native species allow these birds to also travel more freely while still remaining hidden by exposing soil and creating overhead cover. In a way, it’s a “roof over your head”. Fescue and other cool-seasons grow shorter and denser lacking the benefits of the above description. Some ideal species of native warm-season cover types include, big bluestem, little bluestem, and indian grass along with many others. These are the species biologists are fighting to bring back.
If you have any questions about how you may be able to bring back native species to benefit wildlife on your property, contact your local Department of Natural Resources(DNR), or Natural Resource Conservation Office.