In 2021, Conservation Field Technician Cacey Wilken gave a webinar presentation on prescribed fire and its uses for conservation and land management. Hosted by Conservation Nebraska, the event was attended by 60 landowners and members of the public who had a variety of great questions and stories of their own about prescribed burns. Cacey covered topics such as misconceptions about prescribed fire and its benefits for Nebraska’s various native and agricultural landscapes. Their accompanying story map was interspersed with action-packed videos and photos from the fire line and maps of Spring Creek Prairie’s management activities and burns. The webinar recording is on Conservation Nebraska’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc-xqSxaQHg.
In 2020, Spring Creek Prairie was awarded over $300,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to be an anchor for tallgrass prairie conservation and collaborative prairie management on private lands within the Denton Hills landscape. The prairie will serve as a key node for habitat management experimentation and demonstration, prescribed fire, collaboratively driven landowner engagement and education, and will provide an exemplary sense of ownership of these grasslands by landowners and the general public. This project will result in improved habitat quality and management practices for the at-risk species and people dependent upon the remaining tallgrass prairie.
An earlier land project was begun in 2019. Spring Creek Prairie partnered with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to use SCPAC as a demonstration site for the public to see firsthand the benefits of quality, targeted habitat management. For two years, SCPAC targeted over 170 acres of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and habitat for grassland birds for improvement by combating invasive woody plant species.
Mechanical removal of woody species was accomplished in 2019. In 2020, several prescribed burns took place to discourage regrowth of woody plants.
SCPAC will ensure all restoration work is done with as limited impact to the surrounding prairie lands and visitor experience as possible. Tallgrass prairie environments function best with times of disturbance. This is the first step in targeted restoration work that will allow the tallgrass prairie to continue to thrive for the grassland birds that depend on it.