Restoration efforts are underway at Kellys Run Nature Preserve and Pollinator Park to turn 9 acres of the preserve into a pollinator paradise.
In 2021, the Lancaster Conservancy entered into a contract with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to fund restoration efforts across 9 acres at Kellys Run Nature Preserve. This contract calls for the planting of 2.25 aces of hardwood trees and shrubs and over 6 acres of pollinator meadows.
Currently, about 1 total acre of the 9 acres is established in what would be considered pollinator habitat, however this acre is disjointed and disconnected, diminishing the overall value of the habitat for pollinator species.
Our goal is to create distinct pollinator meadows. Once established, these meadows will be ringed by a trail system allowing for visitors to explore newly restored sites and observe the native plants and wildlife.
What work will I see at Kellys Run Nature Preserve?
Pollinator species planted in the original 1-acre garden in 2017 and 2019 are being transplanted to help start new pollinator gardens around the parking area of the preserve and in other Conservancy preserve restoration projects before new seed mixtures approved by the NRCS are spread.
As we work to transition the fields, visitors may notice some preparatory work being performed which may include:
Areas of vegetation removal where invasive and incompatible plant communities are dominant
- Tactical soil disturbance
- Repeated treatments to incompatible and invasive plant species
- The movement of some purposely planted plant species to other locations around the preserve
- The planting of shrubs and small trees
- Other varied site preparation activities
All of this work will be planned and executed in a thoughtful and conscious manner to help ensure the successful transition of the site into beneficial pollinator habitat for many years to come.
Why is this being done?
Pollinator species require adequate sunlight to bloom completely each year. Taller woody vegetation, such as tulip poplar or sycamore sprouts, can outcompete the pollinator plants and stunt their growth or provide excess shade that will prevent them from getting enough sunlight. That is why we need to mow down woody vegetation and invasive species in the field in order to establish a healthy meadow.
The newly established meadows will create continuous habitat for pollinator animals and contain diverse plant species. This will allow the meadows to benefit a wide array of pollinator species, although the seed mixture is especially intended to provide habitat for butterflies like monarchs and regal fritillaries as well as American bumblebees. Additionally, the seed mixtures are formulated to produce a variety of blooms across the growing season.
What is being planted?
Some showy flowering species being planted at Kellys Run include:
- Foxglove beardtongue
- Blue wild indigo
- Butterfly milkweed
- Monkey flower
- Narrowleaf mountain mint
- Wild bergamot
- Perrenial lupine
- Maximillian sunflower
There will also be a grasses included in the seed mixture, such as little bluestem, prairie junegrass, and switchgrass.
Restoration can look disruptive, why not just let nature take care of itself?
The fields at Kelly Run Nature Preserve have a long history of varied uses. Two of the three fields currently in restoration were utilized as baseball diamonds prior to Conservancy acquisition. Historical aerial imageries show all three fields have been used for agricultural production over the last 100 years.
To just let these fields go fallow in hope that they will revert to a healthy natural state is, unfortunately, a fools errand. While possible, it is not probable. It is far more likely that these fields would develop into a highly undesirable invasive plant community.
However, with some help from us to get pollinator meadows established, the site should be able to maintain itself in perpetuity and resist the introduction of invasive plant communities with little long-term maintenance.