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 firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our directors will get back to you. We’ll post the responses on the Q&A page.
Question: Do you offer support or assistance for homeowners to convert property to native tall grasses? I am trying to convince my father to stop mowing his lawn and allow portions of it to naturalize. Can you tell me more about what you do and what you offer? Thank you, Cynthia
Answer: Tallgrass Ontario is happy to provide guidance for converting property to tallgrass prairie or meadow habitat. I would encourage you to have a read through the excellent document “Planting the Seed”, which outlines everything from site preparation, sourcing, seeding and maintaining a planting: https://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/monarchs/PlantingTheSeedGuideEstablishingPrairieMeadowCommunities2004-1.pdf
We do not offer funding for these types of projects but can provide advice if you have specific questions. Without knowing the site in detail, a couple of considerations for converting lawn to prairie or meadow:
- Preparation is key, for a small area of lawn you may want to consider solarization (placing a tarp or cardboard and wood mulch) to kill off the turf grass. Herbicide spraying is an option for larger sites. Tilling could help but the turf grass will likely return and be problematic for your planting.
- Purchase seed or plugs from a reputable native plant nursery (I’m not sure where you are located and what would be nearby). There is also the option to collect from areas around you.
Question: – Tallgrass Communities Mapping Project. I’ve had a chance to read through the information on your website about this project and how it has advanced over the years. I’m curious to know if this project is on-going and what/if the “next steps” are in terms of advancing the project further. Is the database available for researchers/program implementers to download and use? Jordan Becker, Habitat Ecologist – Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS/ECCC Ontario)
Answer: The Tallgrass Mapping Project was discussed at a recent board call. Tallgrass Ontario will be maintaining this database and updating it as new data becomes available. We are able to share the map data with lifetime members of Tallgrass Ontario. The one-time lifetime membership fee is $100. There is also a data-sharing agreement to complete. If you are interested in pursuing please let us know. Memberships can be purchased on our website at Memberships – Tallgrass Ontario.
Question: I am interested in the idea of Carbon Sequestration & Biofuels. Would it make sense to grow Prairies for the dual usage of Sequestering Carbon in the roots of the plants & in the fall harvesting the above ground dead part of the Prairie for conversion into Ethanol as a Biofuel? My guess is that such a Prairie system could provide 1.5 Tons/acre/yr. of carbon sequestration & about 3 dry-tons a year of Biomass for Ethanol production. This is assuming the Prairie we find here in Central Minnesota. Please let me know what you think about this plan and if it is already being done in practice somewhere. Sincerely, James Hawley, Minneapolis
Answer: Your location in central Minnesota is ideal for tallgrass prairie establishment (see range map in the attached wiki page) United States Prairies – Tallgrass prairie – Wikipedia
A short answer to your enquiry is that more research is necessary on the economics of using biofuel sourced from tallgrass prairie as a feedstock in Cellulosic Ethanol production. Cellulosic ethanol requires a complicated production process which places it at an economic disadvantage when compared to grain-alcohol production. See attached link: Cellulosic Ethanol: Environmentally Friendly, But Costly (stanford.edu)
This link provides a list of cellulosic ethanol pilot plants in the US and only one is using grassland bio-mass as feed stock. Cellulosic ethanol – Wikipedia
A promising area of research has focused on grassland biomass for thermal energy production. Tallgrass Ontario completed a literature review 2 decades ago on the viability of using grassland biomass for thermal energy production. Agro-economic Review with Cover April 2001.PDF (tallgrassontario.org)
There are some users here in Ontario who are using grassland biomass to heat greenhouses (no link). Here is a link to the practice in Wisconsin.Biomass Energy for Heating Greenhouses (A3907-04) (wisc.edu). For more information see: Bio Fuels – Tallgrass Ontario.
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 beta release 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.
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 Praire
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)
2019 update to the Ontario Tallgrass Recovery Plan
Tallgrass communities once covered a significant part of southern Ontario’s landscape. Interest in conserving and restoring Ontario’s tallgrass communities and their resident wildlife is on the rise in Ontario. For more information about the Ontario Tallgrass Recovery Plan please see the 2019 update. See more here: 2019 Update to the Tallgrass Communities of Southern Ontario Recovery Plan
Conservation practitioners and landowners please check out the new TgO reference document Restoring Oak Woodlands in Southern Ontario.
“Prior to 1800 the southern Ontario landscape was a rich mosaic of natural habitats − meadows, alvars, tallgrass prairies, oak savannas, oak woodlands, open and closed forests, swamps, marshes, bogs and fens. The majesty of these ecosystems has been described and documented by early settlers and land surveyors. The fact that southern Ontario contained ecosystems other than forest and wetland is new to a lot of people”.
See more here: Restoring Oak Woodlands in Southern Ontario