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The Cemetery and the Clover
Photo Credit: Sarena Selbo/FWS
by Sarena M. Selbo
Congress Green Cemetery in North Bend, Ohio, is more than just the location of the President William Henry Harrison Tomb. This unique cemetery, managed by the Ohio Historical Society, is also home to an endangered plant, the running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum). In a close partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ohio Field Office, the Historical Society is working to improve the habitat for running buffalo clover on their cemetery property.
One of the major threats to this species is habitat encroachment by invasive, non-native plants. Congress Green Cemetery is not immune to this problem. Running buffalo clover at the cemetery is threatened by Japanese honeysuckle, wintercreeper, and periwinkle. Control of invasive species around endangered plants, such as running buffalo clover, can be a difficult and tedious task.
Each winter, an ambitious group of volunteers joins representatives from the Service and the Ohio Historical Society to remove invasive plants at Congress Green. Rakes in tow, volunteers work to pull up the invasive ground cover around running buffalo clover sites. Since the clover is dormant, this is an optimal time of year for pulling up the invasives.
The Service believes that habitat management at Congress Green will be beneficial not only by reducing competition from invasives, but also by increasing clover germination. Running buffalo clover is adapted to periodic soil disturbance (which historically is believed to have come from bison hooves), and raking may be just what the clover needs. Since management began in 2003, we have counted more clover each May.
The partnership, which also includes the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, was formalized by a memorandum of understanding. It provides for the continued protection, management, and monitoring of running buffalo clover within Congress Green Cemetery, and implements some of the activities identified in the species’ revised recovery plan.
Sarena M. Selbo, a fish and wildlife biologist formerly in the Service’s Reynoldsburg, Ohio, office, and now in the Mountain-Prairie Regional Office in Lakewood, Colorado, can be reached at email@example.com.
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