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Summertime turns focus to new projects

By Jeff Williams

Spring is coming to an end and the extreme temperatures of the summer are approaching fast, but with the change of seasons comes a new variety of projects for the National Park Service and our NPS Roving crew.

Preserving Missouri prairies

The prairies around Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and George Washington Carver’s National Monument are beginning to take off, which leaves a small window for crews to get into the field and control invasive species such as cherry, dogwood, sumac and honey locust before they are hidden by the tall grasses in the prairie or are too big to be sprayed. The NPS Roving Crew has spent many days this past month working in the prairies to prevent the spread of these invasive species along with many others. The prairie is truly a beautiful and unique ecosystem with many exciting surprises such as rare plants, wildflowers, wildlife, ticks and the occasional snake under your foot! The management of prairies is extremely important in preserving habitat for hundreds of plant species, thousands of invertebrates and many vertebrate species.

Electrofishing on the Buffalo River

Fishing provides many recreational opportunities for the public and economical boosts throughout the world. Anglers tend to focus more on bass, crappie, catfish and other sport fish, but the truth is there are hundreds of species of fish living in our rivers, streams and lakes that are just as important for the overall health of these waters. These fish populations are closely monitored throughout the Midwest by fisheries biologists. The NPS Roving crew had the opportunity to help NPS Biologist Hope Dodd with some of these surveys on the Buffalo River and its tributaries down in northern Arkansas this past month. The community fish sample consisted of using backpack electrofishing units to stun fish of all sizes that were caught within the electrical fields. The stunned fish were then be collected with nets by other personnel trailing downstream of the electrofishing units. Captured fish were sorted into individual species, weighed, measured and released back into the water immediately. This information helps biologist like Hope understand the species diversity, abundance and overall health of the streams to ensure successful fisheries in the future.