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Prairie areas in Wildwood Preserve Metropark are undergoing intensive restoration work that will result in an improved Oak Openings habitat for numerous species, including birds, more than 50 types of butterflies, and several types of rare, native plants.
Mowing is set to begin as early as next week to cut existing vegetation to the ground. This spring, when the plants emerge, herbicides will be used selectively to weed out non-native invasive species, allowing native plants to thrive.
“The result will be a very scenic prairie that is home to a wide variety of plants and animals,” said Tim Schetter, Metroparks director of natural resources at the park, which is partly in Sylvania Township.
The three-year project will be done in stages, leaving vegetation for wildlife to use as the mowed areas reestablish themselves. Most of the mowing will be done at night, when the park is closed.
This month, crews will target an area known to regular park visitors as Susan’s Meadow, visible from the Yellow Trail. A portion of the area is also known to some as “logo tree prairie” because of a large oak tree that dominates the landscape and is featured in the Metroparks logo.
Other areas that will be managed this year include the Orange Trail Prairie, visible from the All Purpose Trail and behind the playground, as well as the Purple Trail Prairie, also known as the Stranahan Meadow.
The project is being funded with support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Partners for Clean Streams.
Visitors to Wildwood can expect to see results within three years as the prairie grows.
In a separate but related project, Metroparks crews have been cutting invasive, woody plants at Wildwood along Central Avenue. Like the nearby prairie project, the work is being done to stop the spread of invasive, non-native species.