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2017 Update: Braker’s REU Project

Wes Braker, an REU student in summer 2017, characterized the vegetation in remnant prairie, restored prairie, and old agricultural fields at Hegg Lake State Wildlife Management Area. Prairie communities with a large variety of native plant species are considered generally healthy communities. Wes wanted to characterize the plant communities at these sites and provide information to land managers.

Each area at Hegg Lake WMA was classified as remnant prairie, restored prairie, or abandoned agricultural field. Using Google Earth, areas were mapped out and labeled and three areas were chosen based on their availability for sampling, for a total of 27 study areas. Wes sampled vegetation each week for a total of 8 weeks across the growing season.

A snapshot of the landscape at Hegg Lake State Wildlife Management Area.

The purpose of this project was to characterize the vegetation at this site, building a species list for use by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for potential use in local seed sourcing for future restorations. From this project, Wes identified 25 native prairie species for use in future Hegg Lake seed collections. In addition, he identified 80 unique plant species at this site.

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