The West Goodrich Prairie was established on 11 acres of active and abandoned cropland.  About four acres of the site was cropland that was abandoned in 1992 as a result of the discovery that it was within the boundaries of the existing Merry Lea State Nature Preserve. Over the ensuing ten years, exotic autumn olive shrubs invaded this abandoned area.

In December 2010, the autumn olive and all other woody vegetation was removed by mechanical means. During the 2011 growing season, the sod on this area received two broadcast applications of herbicide. Follow-up herbicide treatment was done on any residual stump sprouts. In April 2012, the entire eleven-acre site was divided into three management units and no-till planted with a mesic native seed mix. In August 2012, cool season vegetation firebreaks 33 feet wide were planted between the three units. A perimeter firebreak 16 feet wide was also planted around the entire site. The same early establishment techniques were used as with the Luckey Prairie.

As of 2016, Dr. Ryan Sensenig, Dr. Jonathon Schramm and their students are using this site to study the potential for sustainably grazing domestic livestock on native prairie plant species. An additional acre of adjoining land was planted with species used in the firebreaks in order to provide a relief forage area (along with the wider firebreaks) for the livestock.

West view through area infested with autumn olive. Active cropland area in background. (Nov. 2010)

West view after woody plants removed and area herbicide-treated in middle ground. Note tilled future firebreaks to designate the three management units (Nov. 2011)


No-till planting (April 2012)

Nurse crop of oats and weed competition high-mowed.
(Sept. 2012)

West view after two growing seasons (August 2014)