We do adore our grassland birds, but there is one kind of bird that we definitely don’t want at Kankakee Sands: birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), which is a gorgeous, cool-season legume that brought to North America from Europe as a livestock forage plant as is sold by many American seed companies today. Even though it is only 10” tall, birdsfoot trefoil is a severe threat to natural areas, especially prairies because it quickly forms a vegetative mat that smoothers native prairie plants. What’s worse, the seeds can live up to 10 years in the seedbank!
Unfortunately, birdsfoot trefoil was able to get established and spread in the southwest corner of our 2002 restoration planting in Unit B. The only method of eradicating birdsfoot trefoil is by spraying herbicide, which can cause damage to the surrounding native vegetation. Despite many hours, dollars and years of trying to control birdsfoot trefoil, we have decided to put 40 acres of our prairie restoration severely infected with birdsfoot trefoil back into agricultural production. This strategy will kill the mature plants and over time, reduce the seed in the seed bank. After the soil is tested free of birdsfoot trefoil, we will then replant the area to prairie.
The trail to the top of the dune in Unit B is still present but has been rerouted, so come explore the new trail! Please be sure to utilize the bootbrush stations at all of our trail heads to remove weed species from your shoes and to help prevent the spread of such invasive species such as birdsfoot trefoil.