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Observations at RRX Remnant

My first impression of this area was to wonder if it was actually a prairie remnant at all. All I could see was a ditch with lots of brome and Poa. There was a fence about 10 or 15 meters away from the tracks, beyond which the ground dipped down considerably. This seems to indicate that the area beyond the fence is an old field that has sunk due to plowing and soil erosion. Other than its higher surface, the only thing that immediately suggested to me that this site was a prairie was a couple of Rosa arkansana plants. The most common plants, however, were definitely brome, Poa, and wild parsnip. After a bit more observation, I noticed a couple more native plants: veiny pea and a Solidago species. There were a couple of trees growing in the area, a cottonwood and a juniper. Additionally, there were two large downed trees that looked like they had been lying there at least a year. I wonder if they fell due to a natural occurrence such as a windstorm, or if people cut them down as a management strategy. I thought that because it’s next to a railroad, it’s possible that this is native prairie, burned occasionally due to sparks from a passing train. However, the predominance of weedy, non-native plants and the lack of insect pollinators or other animals led me to think that this is a degraded site. I saw no Echinacea plants there. Although the area was larger than BTG, it still seemed small, perhaps too small for a reproducing population.

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