Grasslands

ARD Upland 512X219

Vast grasslands once covered the Great Plains of North America but settlement, agriculture and associated development have reduced the prairie habitats to a patchwork of isolated grassland tracts in a sea of cropland, farmsteads, roads and cities. This makes the grassland habitat of Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge extremely important to all wildlife that depend on grasslands for food, cover and nesting sites. 


 

Grasslands

Arrowwood Refuge contains about 11,500 acres of grassland, consisting of 6,100 acres unbroken prairie, 600 acres seeded natives, and 4,800 acres seeded tame grasses. The unbroken prairie habitat is predominantly a cool-season mixed-grass prairie located primarily on the steep bluffs on either side of the James River. The Refuge mixed-grass prairie is characterized by grasses and forbs ranging from two to four feet tall and is suffering from an invasion of Kentucky blue grass and smooth brome. Native species are a mixture of western wheatgrass, needlegrasses, blue grama, little bluestem and upland sedges. Interspersed within the grasses are numerous species of forbs, such as coneflowers, asters and goldenrods, and patches of shrubs composed of western snowberry, Woods rose, silverberry, or mixtures of these species. This plant community is the transition zone between the wetter tall grass prairie to the east and the dryer shortgrass prairie to the west.  

Prairie Smoke - USFWS 150X118prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)
 

Refuge upland habitats are managed to maximize production of waterfowl and other grassland nesting species. The Grasshopper Hills area, one of the largest continuous tracts of unbroken sod within the Refuge boundary, is a priority area for native grassland management. Grassland management tools include haying, grazing, prescribed burning, rest and an integrated approach to weed control using mechanical, biological and chemical techniques. The grazing program utilizes sheep, cattle and bison.
 

Bison grazing - USFWS 150X118grazing bison