The 7-acre REA Prairie was created, with USDA and USFWS funding support, on active cropland that was adjacent to a sensitive wetland community located in the state-dedicated Merry Lea Nature Preserve. While this area was maintained in permanent alfalfa hay cover, it needed to be rejuvenated every 5-6 years by planting two years of row crops. The portion of the site with steep slopes drained directly into the wetland. In May 2005 a 100 ft. wide runoff buffer strip was planted on the slopes with a tractor-drawn Brillion drop-broadcast seeder/cultipacker. The wetland-exposed 16 ft. wide section was planted with orchard grass, perennial ryegrass, timothy and alsike clover. This was planned to serve as the future firebreak. The remaining filter strip area was planted with native grasses and forbs, using the same equipment.

In early June 2006 the remaining cropland (soybean stubble) was planted with a mesic native seed mix. A 16 ft. wide and a 33 ft. wide (to protect a power line) cool season firebreak were established on the east and north sides of the site, respectively. The same early establishment techniques were used as with the Luckey Prairie. The entire site was burned in the spring, for three consecutive years starting 2008, and on a 3-5 year cycle, thereafter.

Loading no-till planter with native seed in preparation for planting rest of cropland. Notice power line,  above.  (May 2006)

Filter strip consisting of cool season species at base of slope (seeded May 2005) and native species on slope. Oats nurse crop emerging from May 2006 seeding of natives on remaining cropland site. (June 2006)