Grasslands and butterfly

A recently introduced bill in Congress expands a 2014 Farm Bill “Sodsaver”'provision from six states to nationwide. Sodsaver reduces federal premium subsidies for crop insurance by 50 percentage points on land where native sod has been plowed for crop planting.'

Landowners can learn to distinguish noxious and invasive weeds from beneficial native plants at a day-long plant tour in the Sioux Falls area.

The Nature Conservancy is hosting “Good, Bad and Similar Looking” plant tour beginning at Lake Vermillion State Recreation Area Wednesday, June 12.

Being able to target invasive and non-native weeds saves time, money and labor. It also avoids unnecessary impacts to native plants that help prevent erosion, build soil, slow down water and reduce flooding and attract birds and pollinators.

“Controlling noxious weeds is required by law, but we need to be targeted to preserve the diversity of our grasslands and in the process that saves some money,” said Joe Blastick, Nature Conservancy’s conservation manager in the Prairie Coteau region.

To be efficient and effective in weed management, Blastick said landowners and managers need to know “what you have to control” and then be mindful of native plants that look similar but are valuable to the grassland system.

“We don’t want to treat native plants like we do invasive and noxious plants. We want diversity in our native plant community because it makes the system more resilient. We also want to provide more food sources for pollinators and maximize habitat on the ground. Our goal with the tour is look at native, noxious, and invasive plants and be able to identify what needs to be treated and what doesn’t,” Blastick said.

The plant tour will begin at 9 a.m. at Lake Vermillion’s West Unit picnic area. Enter Lake Vermillion through its west entrance and the picnic area is the first right after the boat ramp. The entrance to Lake Vermillion is five miles south of Interstate 90 after taking Exit 374 for 451st Ave.

Park passes will not be needed for Plant Tour participants. Participants will also drive outside Lake Vermillion to tour additional sites. Carpooling will be encouraged but not required. The plant tour ends at 3 p.m. but anyone needing to leave earlier may do so.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own lunch and water and to dress for the weather. Long pants are sturdy shows are also recommended.

There is no cost for the plant tour, but an RSVP is required. Email Blastick at jblastick@tnc.org or phone him at 605-880-6541.