Fall brings a special urgency to land management staff here at the Crane Trust. Not only are they trying to keep up with routine activities such as spraying trees or phragmites, they are also trying to get any prep work done for habitat enhancement and restoration projects to be completed over the fall and winter months. This month they are preparing fire breaks, shredding dikes in preparation for removal, cleaning up debris from our recent forest stand improvement project, and are tearing out and installing fence for better grazing management through rotational grazing.
Crane Trust Land Manager, Tim Smith, is often asked how bison help or hinder when it comes to maintaining, enhancing or restoring prairie. That is a question that has many folds to it. First of all, bison have been a great tool for land management staff. They are similar to cattle in many ways but learning the subtle differences between bison and cattle and how to incorporate those differences into our management plan has been an interesting learning experience for the staff. It may seem like the bison get to do what they want and when, but it is actually a carefully planned out rotation throughout the year that either provides the desired results or causes negative impacts as a result. Either way, every year the land management staff plans out how they will use our bison based on data collected the previous year on vegetation, small mammals, birds, and insects. Trends from the data collected exposes if the system is trending positive, negative or not changing based on past and current management.