Friday, September 6, 2013

Midwest Nature Quote of the Week

The simplest description of a wood thrush song is a flutelike eee-o-lay, but that does not describe its complexity. One summer evening at twilight, I sat on my porch, watching mist rise from trees and grass. The rain had just passed. When the song began, I closed my eyes and listened to the rising then falling notes, music rolling around the clearing, bouncing off the edge of the forest as the thrush harmonized with himself.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Interview with Carl Kurtz

Carl Kurtz is the author of A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction: Second Editionpublished last month. University of Iowa Press editor Holly Carver asked him a few questions about the new edition and his busy day-to-day life.

HC: It’s been more than ten years since the first edition of your book was published. What has changed in the world of prairie reconstruction since then? 
CK: It appears that the science behind reconstructed prairies has advanced with regard to the importance of species diversity. Diversity is a stability issue. The higher the species diversity, the more stable the area will be in the long term, and it will have many fewer weed or invasive species problems. 

HC: You’ve written a new chapter about establishing prairie in old pastureland. Do you advise potential restorationists to focus on working with pastureland, or would other sites be preferable? 
CK: Old pastures present new challenges and often have a reservoir of native species that can be preserved or enhanced. Old pastures are also often hilly and less suitable for intensive farming and should be maintained as pastures or for wildlife habitat.  Restoring them to high-quality prairie can also enhance their water-holding ability. 

HC: You’ve also written a new chapter about using herbicides, which must have taken quite a bit of research. Is it possible to establish and maintain a prairie reconstruction without using herbicides? 
CK: You may be able to establish a prairie without the use of herbicides; however, they are often only used during a specific phase in the establishment process or for a very specific problem on a small scale. If you are trying to establish a large area, it may not be possible to deal with the equally large problems without the herbicides. Most of the time you will not rely on them for long-term use.  

HC: You’ve got twenty-five-plus years of experience with prairie reconstruction under your belt. What do you wish you had known when you started this adventure? 
CK: I feel that not knowing what you are in for may be an advantage. If you knew how hard the work was going to be or what the risks are, you might not try it. 

HC: You have interns working in your plantings each year. How would someone find out about interning with you? 
CK: We welcome visitors year round and are always happy to have them become involved in our operation. College students often need work experience in the field of land management, which fits into our need as well. 

HC: You are also a professional photographer. How do you find time and energy to merge your restoration work, your seed-production operation, and your photography? 
CK: Diversity is the key to an interesting life. One must work at prioritizing jobs and interests and not wasting time. Most individuals have a great deal more talent than they effectively use.

A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction: Second Edition by Carl Kurtz