Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Peter McDonough

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Climate Change Studies

Abstract

Native Prairie Restoration

Water conservation is a continuously growing issue across Montana due to fewer days of summer rainfall and increasing temperatures year-round. Even though Missoula sits upon its own aquifer, as wintertime snow pack diminishes, so too does its surety of being fully replenished. One major source of water consumption is the traditional lawn. Kentucky bluegrass lawns are abundant on the University of Montana’s campus, using an estimated 1,246,000 gallons of water every time the turf is fully saturated. Removing even a small portion of lawn is an effective way to reduce water consumption.

The University of Montana Climate Solutions class has created a detailed plan to extend the Ethnobotany Garden surrounding the Payne Native American Center to the space north of the International Studies building by removing the lawn and replacing it with perennial, drought-tolerant native plants. We initially planned to execute this restoration in the spring of 2020, but have been forced to postpone due to campus closure and stay-at-home orders resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Once the pandemic passes, we will be planting Idaho Fescue, golden currants, arrowleaf balsamroot, chickweed, blanketflower, and several other native species.

Natural prairie restoration on campus will not only combat water waste, but also restore the natural habitat of the Missoula valley, promote native pollinators, and decrease emissions from lawn-mowing. Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment are a potent source of greenhouse gases and hazardous air pollutants including volatile organic compounds, carcinogenic exhaust, fine particulate matter, and criteria pollutants. Hundreds of pounds of pollutants are generated each year just to maintain UM’s lawns. Meanwhile, native xeriscaping requires no mowing and actually sequesters carbon instead. By restoring this space, we are cutting emissions and adapting to a changing climate while restoring Missoula’s cultural identity.

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Humanities

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Native Prairie Restoration on Campus

Native Prairie Restoration

Water conservation is a continuously growing issue across Montana due to fewer days of summer rainfall and increasing temperatures year-round. Even though Missoula sits upon its own aquifer, as wintertime snow pack diminishes, so too does its surety of being fully replenished. One major source of water consumption is the traditional lawn. Kentucky bluegrass lawns are abundant on the University of Montana’s campus, using an estimated 1,246,000 gallons of water every time the turf is fully saturated. Removing even a small portion of lawn is an effective way to reduce water consumption.

The University of Montana Climate Solutions class has created a detailed plan to extend the Ethnobotany Garden surrounding the Payne Native American Center to the space north of the International Studies building by removing the lawn and replacing it with perennial, drought-tolerant native plants. We initially planned to execute this restoration in the spring of 2020, but have been forced to postpone due to campus closure and stay-at-home orders resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Once the pandemic passes, we will be planting Idaho Fescue, golden currants, arrowleaf balsamroot, chickweed, blanketflower, and several other native species.

Natural prairie restoration on campus will not only combat water waste, but also restore the natural habitat of the Missoula valley, promote native pollinators, and decrease emissions from lawn-mowing. Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment are a potent source of greenhouse gases and hazardous air pollutants including volatile organic compounds, carcinogenic exhaust, fine particulate matter, and criteria pollutants. Hundreds of pounds of pollutants are generated each year just to maintain UM’s lawns. Meanwhile, native xeriscaping requires no mowing and actually sequesters carbon instead. By restoring this space, we are cutting emissions and adapting to a changing climate while restoring Missoula’s cultural identity.