Grant Continues invasive species removal
Bluffton University has been awarded a $100,000 Protect the Planet Grant from Cenovus Energy. The grant will fund invasive-species removal and native-plant restoration at the Bluffton University Nature Preserve over a two-year period beginning in March 2024.
The project includes identifying and removing invasive species in the five acres along the drive into the nature preserve and a full restoration of the non-native, 10-acre grassland to native tallgrass prairie.
Under the direction of Jacob Buchannan, M’Della Moon Chair in Botany at Bluffton University, invasive plants such as autumn olive, privet and bush honeysuckle will be removed using methods such as cut-stump herbicide treatment and burning. Seed for native species will be purchased and planted.
“This grant provides an exciting opportunity to restore our nature preserve. We hope that this work will provide habitat for native species and enhance the preserve’s educational and aesthetic value,” said Buchanan.
The nature preserve is located at the northwest edge of campus and is open to the public during daylight hours. It’s often used by students for academic and student life activities and is home to 160 acres of woodland and grassland trails, a riverine ecosystem and a small-lake wildlife habitat.
This project aims to continue work funded by an earlier $25,000 Cenovus grant. That work began in spring 2023 to remove invasive species along Augsburger Road and the entrance of the nature preserve.
Cenovus Energy is an integrated energy company with oil and natural gas production operations in Canada and the Asia Pacific region, and upgrading, refining and marketing operations in Canada and the United States. The company owns the Lima Refinery in Lima, Ohio.