COMMONS FORD PRAIRIE RESTORATION PROJECT
RATIONALE FOR PROJECT AND FOR PRAIRIE RESTORATION
- National Heritage Preservation. Less than 1% remains of the tall-grass prairies which once encompassed large sections of the central and southern United States. This project represents an opportunity to restore, protect and preserve our national heritage for future generations. This restoration is particularly significant given its close proximity to a major urban center and the ongoing development in the immediate area.
- Restoration and Preservation of Wildlife Habitat. The loss of native prairies has negatively impacted grassland bird species as well as other wildlife which depend upon such life-sustaining habitats. Virtually all species dependent upon native grasslands are in decline. Restoration of wildlife habitats, such as that instituted by this project, support and help sustain these species by providing nesting, shelter and food sources. Commons Ford PRO, Austin PARD and the other project partners firmly believe that removal of the invasive species and the ongoing restoration will result in a measurable increase in grassland bird and other wildlife species in the prairie tract. Early surveys are already supporting that hypothesis.
- Environmental Impact. Native grasslands are an important and natural form of erosion control. They provide a more efficient means of capturing and storing annual precipitation within the soil. Native grass areas reduce storm water runoff and pollution as well as provide an important terrestrial link for atmospheric CO2 nutrient recycling. This element is particularly important given that the restoration tract is located less than 300 yards from the banks of Lake Austin. Further, native prairies are generally self-sustaining, requiring minimal maintenance once established.
- Natural Beauty. Native wildflowers and grasses add a beautiful, aesthetic quality to the Park and will increase bird and other wildlife density which can be enjoyed by the public throughout the year.
- Educational Opportunities. This specific project provides easily-accessible educational opportunities for student of all ages. The project allows the direct examination and possibility of identification of numerous native grasses and wildflowers. Field trips from local schools are encouraged so that students have the opportunity to directly and specifically examine the viability of restoration techniques and to study at close hand the impact of restoration on avian species and other wildlife.
- Community Involvement. Individuals from the community are not only enjoying the beginnings of the native prairie, but are also participating in all aspects of the project. One of the unique aspects of this project is that a substantial portion of the implementation is conducted through volunteer and community efforts.