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Welcome to the Tallgrass Ontario (TgO) Website

The extensive content on our website is divided into three main sections. Each page has an expanded menu for its section in the left sidebar.

About TgO is where you will find information about our organization and how you can support our projects and initiatives.

Science and Resources is where you will find information about how to ID a grassland and how to establish and maintain your own grassland. There is also a publications sections with lists of recommended reading and links to reference materials, factsheets and our Bluestem Banner newsletter.

Places, People and Projects is where you will find information about news and events and information about TgO projects, GIS mapping and grassland places.

Download the latest edition of the Bluestem Banner (pdf) by clicking on the image to the left.  Go to the Bluestem Banner page for archived editions.

Prairie & Savannah Funding Application Form

In honour of Mary Gartshore
For more information please go to the Prairie & Savannah Funding page.

NEW! – Questions and Answers

If you have a question about establishing or maintaining tallgrass prairie please e-mail One of our directors will get back to you. We’ll post the responses on the Q&A page.

Recent Q&A’s

Question:  Hello, I have an inquiry about establishing tall grass prairie on a 1 acre, cherty limestone outcrop in a former gravel pit. Topsoil is essentially non-existent but the area is flat and covered in small, shattered flint/limestone. I feel like a seed drill is out of the question with the amount of stone. I guess I’m looking for a suggestion other than broadcast seeding, which will be a last resort. Any ideas? Travis.
Answer:  Hi Travis, sounds like an interesting site and prairie species are great for aggregate pit reclamation/naturalization. The substrates may be a bit different, but this reminds me of the Quarry Prairie that Hamilton Conservation Authority seeded off of Paddy Greene Road, if you’re ever in the area you can park roadside and walk a trail in:

See also:

Broadcast seeding of certain species (big bluestem, little bluestem, smooth aster, heath aster, black-eyed susan and wild bergamot) would get things going – these species all have relatively small seeds or features that help them drill into the soil on their own and they all seem to seed-in and spread well where bare substrates are present beside existing plants. It does sound like the site would be tough on a seed drill/poor seed-soil contact, if any.

If you had some sand available you could distribute and grade a shallow depth 3-5cm across the site and seed into that, broadcast and pack it. If that’s not so feasible, perhaps adding some sand or loam in “lenses” throughout the site and seed those to get plants going and to create a seed source that will scatter across the site into the areas of limited/no soil. There is also terraseeding which would be a bit pricey but would provide a shallow layer of organics which, when applied in spring with your prairie seed and a nurse crop, would help retain some moisture and get the roots established before the material likely bakes to a crisp in the summer months.

I think the site has great potential in terms of periodic drought keeping invasive shrubs and cool season grasses at bay. Where typically fire would be recommended to knock back woody species encroachment from time to time, years of drought will have the same effect, so going with deep-rooted prairie vegetation is a great choice.

What’s New

The 2021 Winter edition of the Bluestem Banner is here!
Bluestem Banner Vol. 20, No. 2

The Ontario Biodiversity Council has published a recent update to the State of Ontario’s Biodiversity: Extent, Quality and Protection of Ontario’s Rare Ecosystems. Southern Ontario’s tallgrass prairies and savannahs, although generally small in size, contain some of the rarest assemblages of plant and wildlife species in the province and most certainly, the country. As such, prairie and savannah ecosystems were chosen as “biodiversity indicators,” which are tracked through monitoring programs and other sources to inform the progress towards achieving Ontario’s 15 Biodiversity Targets and the status and trends in three biodiversity theme areas: 1). pressures on biodiversity; 2.) state of ecosystem, species and genetic diversity; and, 3). conservation and sustainable use.

To read the latest status update on the state of rare ecosystems in 2021, please see: Extent-and-quality-of-rare-ecosystems-2021-1

This and other information on indicators can be found here: Index of Biodiversity Indicators

For more information on the Ontario Biodiversity Council’s reporting and The State of Ontario’s Biodiversity, please visit: The State of Ontario’s Biodiversity

Tallgrass Ontario is pleased to announce the addition of two new documents to our Prescribed Burn Publications page.  Both of these documents will assist tallgrass prairie prescribed burn practitioners.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Prescribed Burn Manual

This manual outlines the planning process which ensures that all prescribed burns in Ontario are conducted in a safe and efficient manner. This document described key prescribed burn planning concepts and some considerations for planning prescribed burns, based on the complexity of the burn. Burn Manual (pdf)

Field Guide for predicting Fire Behavior in Ontario’s Tallgrass Prairie

This field guide was created to address the need for a more accurate estimate of fire behaviour in the tallgrass prairie of Southern Ontario. The new rate of spread model for tallgrass prairies detailed in this field guide is based on models developed in Australian grasslands and requires an estimate of the actual fuel moisture of the grass fuels. A tabular method for estimating fuel moisture content has also been introduced. Field Guide (pdf)

Tallgrass Indicators Species List/Analysis spreadsheet available for download

Dan Lebedyk, Biologist/Ecologist at the Essex Region Conservation Authority and former Director of Tallgrass Ontario has released a new version of the SOFIA (Southern Ontario Floral Inventory Analysis) spreadsheet. SOFIA is a macro-enabled Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which tabulates, analyzes and automates floral inventories of natural areas within southern Ontario. Within this updated release, SOFIA now identifies if an inventory has tallgrass prairie/savanna indicator species. Visit our new On-Line Tools page to download this spreadsheet.