Pollinator Conservation through grassland restoration at Panola Mt

 

The Conservation Department at the Atlanta Botanical Garden has been working with partners and other organizations for more than 20 years, in restoring habitats, conducting research on endangered plant species, and ways to reproduce and establish them into their natural habitat.

Panola Mountain State Park is just one of many partners who has benefited from our Conservation efforts through the years.

On April 29, in coordination with Panola Mountain State Park Manager Wayne R. Fuller, DNR-GA Northern Resource Manager Phil Delestrez, US-Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Deborah Harris (who provided the funding), and Atlanta Botanical Garden Pollinator Garden Coordinator Melina Lozano Durán, we planted around 200 plants, all of them pollinator friendly. Luckily for us, we had the fantastic help from Troop 106 of the Cub Scouts Pack 21.

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Phil Delestrez giving a brief explanation of how planting should be done. He positioned all plants by groups after plants were delivered to the park

 

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Troop 106 of the Cub Scouts Pack 21, learning through planting on a restored area for pollinator insects!

 

30 Symphyotrichum novae angliae – New England Aster
20 Muhlenbergia capillaris – pink muhlygrass
5 Asclepias verticillata – whorled milkweed
13 Aquilegia canadensis – Eastern red columbine
50 Rudbekia fulgida – orange coneflower
57 Asclepias tuberosa – butterfly weed
3 Baptisia alba – false indigo
5 Eutrochium fistulosum – Joe-pyeweed
6 Monarda punctata – spotted beebalm
6 Vernonia noveborascensis – ironweed
6 Yucca filamentosa – Adam’s needle
6 Coreopsis grandiflora – large-flowered tickseed

This short plant list will benefit several insect pollinator species like bees, flies, and butterflies. It will equally help birds like hummingbirds which are pollinators and eat insects as part of their diets.

The Power Flight is a grassland restoration area that came to be part of Panola Mountain State Park in 2001 through a River Care 2000 grant. It had a total acreage of 180 acres and used to be a fescue pasture land.  In 2001 Elaine Nash from the Native Plant Society and Phil started restoring the hill top. Between 2005-2006 Nathan Klaus from NRCS (Non-Game Conservation Section) took over the project and started eliminating exotic plants and restoring grass through the use of prescribed fire to maintain the ecology of the area.

This area is used for bird-watching, butterfly walks, and dragonfly programs, “It is also a unique outdoor classroom to discuss native grassland and meadows” Phil Delestrez commented.

Planting was done in about a 5-acre area. We will be monitoring the plants, especially Asclepias tuberosa, which is a plant species of importance for the Monarch butterfly.