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City of Bloomington, Indiana

City Parks Department Preparing Goat Farm Field for Prairie Development

[image:27815,right]FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2017

For more information, please contact:
Steve Cotter, Natural Resources Manager, City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, 812.349.3736 or cotters@bloomington.in.gov

Bloomington, Ind.-The City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, with technical assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife, is taking steps next week to begin creating a five-acre prairie at the city park known as the Goat Farm.

The Goat Farm is a 31.5-acre undeveloped property located north of Sherwood Oaks Park and south of the roundabout at Winslow Road, High Street, and Rogers Street. A prairie consisting of native grasses and wildflowers will provide much-needed sources of nectar and food for pollinators like butterflies, bees, and birds.

The Goat Farm's existing field of fescue grass must be removed in order to make way for the planting of native seeds this spring. Fescue grows aggressively during all but the coldest parts of the year, and forms thickly rooted mats that prevent native plants from taking root. Fescue is also a fast-growing grass that shades out sun-loving native prairie plants, and prevents a diversity of plants from growing.

Beginning Feb. 13, native plant restoration specialists from Eco Logic LLC will kill the fescue in the area intended for the new prairie with the herbicide glyphosate. The application timeline depends heavily on the current and and forecasted weather conditions. The herbicide application may be rescheduled for later in the week if weather conditions are not ideal for effective treatment.

Glyphosate will be applied according to label rates recommended by the manufacturer with oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A total of five acres will be treated. Two OISC (Office of Indiana State Chemist) certified personnel plan to begin broadcast application of the herbicide at 9:30 a.m. Small areas of the field that already contain desired native prairie plants will be hand sprayed for removal of fescue only.

People and pets should avoid walking through the treatment area until the applied herbicide has dried, which usually takes about two hours. Parks and Recreation staff will sign the areas slated for herbicide application, and will remain on site until the area is dry and can be re-entered safely.

Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Eco Logic staff are cognizant of the proximity of Jackson Creek, and of the need to protect water quality in the creek. Glyphosate binds tightly to soil particles, so as long as the soil does not move (i.e. is not washed away in a heavy rain) the risk of the herbicide contaminating Jackson Creek is very small. The Jackson Creek Trail will remain open for use by the public during the herbicide application.

A second herbicide application is scheduled to take place at the Goat Farm later in the spring.

Eco Logic staff will comply with the standards outlined in the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department's newly created Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, Plan that provides guidelines and safety standards for pesticide use on park property.

According to Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department natural resources manager Steve Cotter, the Bloomington Environmental Commission asked the Department to consider creating a native prairie planting at one of its properties. A prairie that includes a diversity of plant species is beneficial to pollinators, or animals that move pollen from one part of the flower of a plant to another part. Common pollinator species include bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, spiders, flies, and wasps.

"A prairie will provide much-needed nectar and larval food sources for pollinators, as well as visual interest for visitors," Cotter said. He added that a mowed path around the proposed prairie, next to the Jackson Creek Trail, and around the Goat Farm barn will allow park users safe access to those places. Cotter said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife will both contribute expertise and resources toward the prairie project.

For more information on the Goat Farm prairie project, call Steve Cotter at 812.349.3736 or e-mail cotters@bloomington.in.gov.

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