The NWTF and the USDA Forest Service demonstrate shared stewardship in Mississippi with a multiyear, habitat-enhancement project on Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Noxubee, Okitbbeha and Winston Counties.
The 9,257 acres of prescribed burn was the final installment of a 3-year, 44,000-acre treatment to enhance wildlife habitat in the refuge. Herbicide applications on an additional 491 acres relieved areas of undesirable hardwoods and invasive shrub species, predominantly bicolor lespedeza.
Bicolor lespedeza, also known as shrub lespedeza, first arrived into the United States from Asia in the 1850’s. Once used extensively for wildlife management and still sometimes today, bicolor lespedeza can become an invasive species in certain habitats because it grows fast and spreads quickly, crowding out native and desirable vegetation.
“Bicolor lespedeza can take over the understory of a forested stand very quickly and can become a monoculture (a single plant in an area) of itself, when not kept in check,” said Kacie Bauman, NWTF district biologist for Mississippi. “It is always best to stick with native plants for wildlife management, as the understory of the longleaf ecosystem provides highly diverse plant communities for wildlife and are overall more nutritional for them.”
This year alone, the NWTF contributed $10,000 from its Super Fund towards the fees and costs of prescribed burning and herbicide treatments, with matching partner funds totaling over $200,000.