NETC 09-2

PROJECT NUMBER:  09-2

PROJECT TITLE: “Effective Establishment of Native Grasses on Roadsides”

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR(S) & UNIVERSITY(S):

  • Julia Kuzovkina, Cristian Schulthess, Robert Ricard, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
  • Glenn Dryer, Director, Connecticut College Arboretum, New London, CT

STATUS: Open

AGREEMENT TERM:   9/1/2013 – 2/28/2016

ANTICIPATED COMPLETION: 2/28/2016

PROJECT OBJECTIVES:  To build a comprehensive knowledgebase for a gradual transition toward sustainable native roadside vegetation cover which will support transportation goals for safety and infrastructure reinforcement while providing economic, ecological and aesthetic advantages. The direct deliverables to the New England Departments of Transportation include the Manual with guidelines for the effective establishment of native grasses on roadsides in New England and a model for an accelerated adoption and commercialization of this novel ecological restoration approach.

PROGRESS/ACCOMPLISHMENTS THROUGH MARCH 31, 2015:

  • Two investigators – Kuzovkina and Dreyer – attended the Ecological Landscape Symposium: New Directions in the American Landscape on January 9-10, 2014 at the Connecticut College Arboretum to gather relevant information for the Manual and to meet the practitioners in the field of ecological restoration. Kuzovkina and Schulthess conducted the candidate search and interviewing through the American Society for Horticultural Sciences for the Graduate Assistant position to work on this project. February 26, 2014 all co-PIs and candidate for the Graduate Assistant John Campanelli met with the practitioner Larry Weaner at the Connecticut College Arboretum to discuss the selection of native grasses for demonstration sites along Rt. 6 in Connecticut. January-March 2014 all co-PIs conducted the literature search to access all relevant information for the Manual. February-March 2014 – development of the specifications of native grass plantings for the demonstration sites. 5 March, 2014 – phone discussion with Colonial Seed LLC about the plant specifications for the demonstration sites. February-April 2014 communication with Dr. Rebecca Brown from the University of Rhode Island about the project: development of the bluestem ecotype study and discussion of the specifications for the demonstration sites. March 25, 2014 – Kuzovkina visited the University of Delaware to communicate with the colleagues – Susan Barton and Valann Budischak – working on similar DOT project in Delaware. Discussion about saw-dust establishment protocol. March 29-31, 2014 – John Campanelli initiated seed ordering from Ernst Conservation Co.
  • John Campanelli was hired for the Graduate Assistant position to work on this project. He conducted the literature search for the appropriate mixture of native seeds to establish demonstration plots.
  • April 12 – Cristian Schulthess and John Campanelli collected soil samples from the proposed demonstration sites along Rt. 6
  • April 23 Kuzovkina and Schulthess met with Don Woodall from Colonial Seed Co at the road sites to discuss the project
  • Colonial Seed Company, CT was consulted during April-May for the protocols suitable for the establishments of demonstration plots.
  • CT DOT managers were contacted in order to obtain the permit for the establishment of three demonstration sites along Rt. 6. The meeting with the DOT managers was scheduled for May 9 2014 to inspect the sites to confirm the suitability of obtaining permit. The permit was obtained on May 14, 2014.
  • May 20, 2014 all co-PIs, Colonial Seed Co and other consultants on the project met at the proposed demonstration sites along Rt. 6 to confirm the establishment protocols. The seeding protocols include the use of a seed drill, hydroseeding, use of sawdust, and use of a Jacobsen overseeder.
  • CT DEEP was contacted to assist with the Truax drill and to provide an operator for the establishment of one demonstration site. Uconn Landscaping was scheduled to conduct the hydroseeding, and Colonial Seed to conduct the overseeding.
  • Establishment of the demonstration sites along Rt. 6:
  • May 14, 2014 – all demonstration sites were sprayed with RoundUp non-selective herbicide
  • May 21, 2014 – all demonstration sites were mowed and raked
  • May 27, 2014 – a site with saw-dust application was planted
  • May 28, 2014 – a site was hydroseeded with two levels of mulch
  • May 29, 2014 – a site was planted with the Truax seed drill
  • June 3, 2014 – a site was seeded with the Jacobsen overseeder.
  • June 11, 2014 – two botanists from the Arnold Arboretum visited the sites to conduct a survey of existing native and introduced vegetation along Rt. 6.
  • By-weekly site inspections were conducted throughout June to observe the germination and establishment rates.
  • July 8, 2014 Inspection of the demonstration sites with Mark Lavoi from the Colonial Seed Co to assess the early establishment success of plantings and herbicide needs.
  • Campanelli visited a meadow in Western Connecticut installed by the DEEP using a TRUAX seed drill in spring 2014 (Trust Land location: 262 Grantville Rd, Winsted, CT).
  • November 21, 2014: Native plant specialist Mark Brownlee from American Native Plant Nursery

Maintenance of the demonstration sites along Rt. 6

  • During July 1-September 30:
    • Kuzovkina and Campanelli conducted weekly visits to the three sites to evaluate the germination rates of grasses and forbs as well as weed pressure.
    • Botanists from the Arnold Arboretum were consulted to assist with the identification of native and introduced plant species along Rt. 6.
  • July 8, 2014: Inspection of the demonstration sites along Rt. 6 with Mark Lavoi from the Colonial Seed Co to assess the early establishment success of plantings as well as herbicide needs.
  • July 28, 2014: Application of Quinclorac  to control crabgrass (sites 1 and 2) and  SpeedZone to control dicots weeds(the hillside near site 1).
  • August 8: Inspection of the demonstration sites along Rt. 6 with Don Woodall from the Colonial Seed Co. to discuss management strategies.
  • August 31-5: Applications of Round Up and Plateau to the newly established small plots along Rt.6 to study the augmentation of pre-existing native populations approach.
  • September 29: Inspection of the demonstration sites along Rt. 6 with Glenn Dreyer from the Colonial Seed Co to discuss management strategies.
  • August 7: Kuzovkina and Campanelli visited a meadow in Western Connecticut installed by Larry Weaner.
  • September 30: Participation in the Colonial Seed Company Open House to discuss various protocols for the establishment of native grasses and forbs.
  • October 15, 2014: Campanelli established native cool-season grass plots
  • December 1, 2014: Kuzovkina and Campanelli prepared clay balls with native grass seeds for dormant seeding
  • December 15, 2014: Campanelli established dormant seeding plots using clay balls and direct seeding
  • Discussion of the treatments for field installation in spring 2015 is in progress.

Survey and Interviews:

  • Ricard and Campanelli developed a survey instrument based on the qualitative research approach to survey the New England DOT officers. The actual face-to-face interviews will be conducted during October-November.
  • November 17, 2014 – interview with the RI DOT managers
  • December 8, 2014 – interview with the Maine DOT managers
  • December 22, 2014 – interview with the New Hampshire DOT managers
  • January 6, 2015 – scheduled to interview the Massachusetts DOT managers
  • January 6, 2015 – interviewed the Massachusetts DOT
  • Throughout January-February 2015: The attempts to schedule a visit to interview the Vermont DOT managers were unsuccessful (contacted 8 times Bill Ahearn and his colleagues by e-mail and phone).
  • March 2015: The decision was made to proceed with the interview analyses without input from Vermont. The complete transcripts for 5 states, visited during October-January, were prepared and analyses were completed. The write-up is in preparation.

Other projects:

  • July 1-August 31- establishment of a demonstration garden at the UConn Research Farm which includes native grasses and forbs suitable for New England roadsides; this garden serves for educational purposes and for the preparation of a portfolio of pictures which will be used for the Manual.
  • July 1-August 31 – establishment of the research plots for the bluestem ecotype study at the UConn Research Farm; this study will characterize and compare 12 ecotypes of little bluestem from various states of New England, Pennsylvania and New York to determine which ecotypes should be used for the roadsides in New England.

REPORTS/PAPERS PUBLISHED, PRESENTATIONS MADE RELATING TO THIS PROJECT FROM THE START OF THE PROJECT THROUGH MARCH 31, 2017:  

NETC 09-2: Effective Establishment of Native Grasses on Roadsides

TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Chairperson Robert Mossmann: Maine Department of Transportation

Barbara Rollins: New Hampshire Department of Transportation

George Batchelor: Massachusetts Highway Department

Susan L. Fiedler: Connecticut Department of Transportation

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