Blenheim Prairie Biological Survey
Center for Urban Habitats partners with private landowners to survey and assess natural resources in the Piedmont. At this site CUH is actively surveying and will be doing research during 2018 to quantify the biodiversity of an extensive Prairie-like setting in a powerline right-of-way in eastern Albemarle County. This corridor, and in similar utility corridors throughout the state, are known for having rare species and exceptionally high diversity in flora and fauna. Our plan here is to document and assess that diversity, and then help the property owner establish a working relationship with Dominion Power so the Prairie may be preserved.
This beautiful plant community has classic characteristics of the once common grasslands that spread across the Piedmont of Eastern North America. The grasslands were an extensive patchwork of scrubby woodlands, savannas, and vibrant prairies. We’ve lost nearly all of these ecosystems due to fire exclusion, agricultural landuse, herbicides, and development, and the species they once supported (our beloved pollinators and birds) are suffering sharp declines because of it. Gratefully, we have the ironic twist of a utility corridor serving as the perfect context for the preservation and renewal of the Piedmont Prairie. We just need to make it easier for the managers of the corridors to stop using herbicides, and instead switch to mow-only management and occasional prescribed fire management.
Stay tuned for more information as this project progresses. We continue to be amazed by the biological richness in these open spaces. Some examples of them are among the most biologically rich and important resources we have!