Wetlands Restoration Specialist Tyler Janke recently spent some time in Lincoln doing plant community mapping for the Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, looking at several sites including the Conservancy’s Little Salt Fork Marsh to record the conditions. He shared these observations:
• Brome does not appear to be a problem directly in the saline wetlands, but the surrounding lowland prairie areas have been invaded by it. Brome was probably planted for bank stabilization many years ago. It is not a threat to the wetlands (it couldn’t survive there) but it is a threat to the overall landscape. In terms of invasion and threat, though, hybrid cattails are still much worse.
• Grazed areas are doing well. Most of the saline wetland plants are short annuals that seem to like disturbance. Janke saw salt wort growing up in the cow’s paths, and didn’t see any damage to it. “Particularly in the salt flats where the tiger beetle likes to live, grazed plants are doing well,” said Janke.
• The saline wetlands are remarkably resilient because invaders, for the most part, cannot survive the salty conditions. Threats, then, include degradation of the salt creek bed through channelization, increases in freshwater run-off, and of course, incompatible development and habitat fragmentation.
“These hydrologic systems are not completely understood. Taking an ongoing assessment of conditions and doing evaluation helps us to know more and make good management decisions,” said Janke.