Invasive Old World Bluestems (OWBs)—including Caucasian and Yellow Bluestems—are a major threat to native grasslands and prairies in the central Great Plains, including those in Kansas and Nebraska. This video of a workshop featuring the foremost experts on the subject provides details on the origin of these invasive plants in the southern/central Great Plains, their impact on native grasslands and associated flora and fauna, and the challenge of control.
The announcement for the April 24, 2015 workshop provides an overview of the program and speakers, including Dr. Karen Hickman, Mitchell Greer and Keith Harmoney. It also includes representative photographs of OWB invasion along a roadside and into native rangeland in the Flint Hills.
With the assistance of conservation partners, Audubon of Kansas organized this workshop at Konza Prairie near Manhattan. It was co-sponsored by the Kansas Wildlife Federation, Kansas Native Plant Society, Protect the Flint Hills, Kansas Land Trust, Grassland Heritage Foundation, Prairie Heritage Inc., and Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge. Two additional workshops were held in Hays and Greensburg, KS.
Implications for Nebraska
Introduced in Oklahoma and Texas (and to a lesser degree in Kansas), OWBs are spreading along roadsides in Kansas and are invading adjacent rangelands in many areas. OWBs eliminate/replace virtually all native plants as they expand over grasslands. Although these invasive grasses have been noted along roadsides near McCook and in Pawnee County, Nebraska, land managers in the state may be able to halt their spread if addressed soon. Caucasian and Yellow Bluestems need to be designated as noxious plants before they are intentionally planted, or introduced with contaminated hay or mulch (as often used on roadsides) by uninformed individuals or agencies.
“Perseverance & Partnerships Critical to the Challenge Emerging from OWB’s Threat to Prairies” by Ron Klataske in the Fall 2015/Spring 2016 edition of PRAIRIE WINGS magazine.
“Old World grasses, New World problems” by Michael Pearce in the Wichita Eagle, October 18, 2015
“Old World Bluestems threaten native grasslands” by Donna Sullivan in Grass & Grain, May 5, 2015