PINEVILLE, La. — In 2016, American Youth Works received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore the calcareous prairies on the Kisatchie National Forest and rangelands on the National Forests and Grasslands of Texas.
The American Youth Works Green Crew began their restoration efforts in the Carpenter Road prairie on the Winn Ranger District in the calcareous prairies in late July. The goal of the project was to control the woody brush and vines with cutting, followed by an immediate herbicide application to the freshly-cut surface. Brush in this particular prairie was especially thick, yet the Green Crew worked hard in the heat and humidity to restore and improve the Carpenter Road prairie to its natural state.
Prairies like these are formed from marine sediments that are about 40 to 45 million years old. Historically there were about 40,000 acres of prairies in central and northern Louisiana, but only about 300 acres remain today. Unlike the tallgrass prairies of the Midwestern United States, these prairies were never very expansive. The largest was probably about 1,300 acres, but most were around 50 acres or less. This is similar to other prairies scattered throughout the southeastern United States. Today there are about 76 prairies encompassing 157 acres on the Winn Ranger District.
The quality of these prairies are in various states of condition and all show signs of encroachment by trees, shrubs and vines. Left unchecked, most of these prairies will be lost to this encroachment. Thanks to the grant from NFWF and the dedicated Green Crew youth, the Kisatchie National Forest is closer to restoring the calcareous prairies to their desire condition and saving this unique habitat for future generations to come.