Somers Farm and Prairie RestorationEcological restoration at the Somers Farm and Prairie started in 2012 with focus on a small, high-quality prairie remnant along the Union Pacific railway that forms the western border of the property. It has since grown to include many different habitats at the Somers Farm and Prairie, including an oak savanna, riparian areas and marginal agricultural land.

When Randy Powers of Prairie Future Seed Company joined the team in 2013, he recognized the potential of the habitat at the Somers Farm and Prairie, but also the challenges of restoration. Prairie Future Seed Company and the Heide family worked to develop a strategy for restoration that included inventory of plant species, reduction or eradication of invasive non-native species, restoration of native species and maintenance of healthy or successfully restored habitat areas. 

Restoration has involved a complex of activities, from managing invasive species to establishing new habitat areas. The first steps were focused on tackling invasive species that threatened to overtake much of the habitat on site. Techniques like mowing, seed-head removal and spot application of herbicides keep invasive plants at bay, in addition to the hard work of manually weeding and cutting back invasive shrubs. Paths were established to offer better access to the prairie and woodland, as well as to define unique plant communities. In 2013, an agricultural field to the north of the remnant prairie was reclaimed and prepared for restoration to tallgrass prairie.

Somers Farm and Prairie RestorationSomers Farm and Prairie Restoration

As the prairie restoration has progressed, techniques like prairie burns are included to maintain the balance of healthy plant communities in the prairie. Seed collecting has allowed for the expansion of native habitat with hyper-local plant genetics, and the enhancement of the genetics at other sites nearby. Some threatened species have even received a helping hand in form of hand-pollination! Each restoration piece is estimated to take ten years to reach a mature balance where there is a reduced need for maintenance and human intervention. 

The restoration team has dedicated time to cataloging the wealth of species found in the prairie remnant. The photo gallery contains documentation of the restoration work and a sample of the diversity of species found at the Somers Prairie. 

Somers Farm and Prairie Restoration - Prairie Burns