Forging a Prairie Alliance
BLACK-EYED SUSANS SWAY in the wind. Red-wing blackbirds flit about, fighting for control of their invisible territories in the Maximilian sunflower. Prairie grasses grow along the banks of a meandering stream. One year ago, this was dirt.
On a recent visit to the new Bluestem Park, the Wildflower Center’s ecosystem designers found a prairie in bloom. Bluestem Park is a 14-acre stream and prairie restoration in the middle of Alliance Town Center, a growing mixed-use community in north Fort Worth, Texas. The park’s new unique landscape saves water, supports pollinators and birds, showcases Texas plants native to the backland prairie, including trees, prairie grasses and wildflowers, and provides recreational and educational opportunities for the surrounding community.
The Wildflower Center acted as an ecological consultant on the project for Hillwood Development Company, one of the largest community developers in the U.S. Prior to the prairie restoration, the site held a manmade stock pond and was used to graze cattle.
Center ecologists performed site assessment and analysis, gave recommendations for the prairie restoration (including soil modification, suites of different prairie grass and wildflower assemblages), instructed on installing and establishing all plant materials, and performed establishment oversight, and periodic maintenance inspections.
“Long term maintenance of restoration projects is key to their success,” said Michelle Bright, environmental designer at the Wildflower Center. “One of the aspects that we’ve enjoyed most about this project has been the ecological training of Hillwood’s Alliance Landscape Company in how to maintain and care for these native systems over the long term. Our hope is that the strategies used on this project can be replicated throughout Hillwood Property lands, expanding the restoration of Texas landscapes.”