Native Grass Cultivars for Multiple Revegetation Goals on a Proposed Mine Site in Southcentral Alaska



Native grasses may be used for multiple, sometimes conflicting, goals in revegetation projects. Woody plants are frequently desired for moose browse and timber in Alaska, but naturally occurring Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint reedgrass) hinders the establishment of these desired species. Seven grass cultivars of Alaskan origin were evaluated for their ability (1) to stabilize the soil, (2) to reduce regeneration of C. canadensis, (3) to allow openings for natural colonization, and (4) to permit establishment of desirable rooted cuttings. Cultivars tested are “Arctared” Festuca rubra (red fescue), “Alyeska”Arctagrostis latifolia (polar-grass), “Nugget”Poa pratensis (bluegrass) “Norcoast”Deschampsia beringensis (Bering hairgrass), “Nortran”Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hairgrass), “Gruening” Poa alpina (alpine bluegrass), and “Sourdough” Calamagrostis canadensis. These were tested as single species and in multi-species mixtures, with two seeding rates of the multi-species mixture (0.5, 0.25 seeds/cm2). Experimental plots included unfertilized, unfertilized with rooted Salicaceae cuttings, and fertilized (350 kg/ha 20:20:10). A control plot was not seeded. After three growing seasons, Nortran D. caespitosa and Arctared F. rubra were the most successful cultivars. They provided 87% to 98% of the seeded-species cover for soil stabilization and suppressed C. canadensis on the fertilized subplots without reducing species diversity. Gruening Poa alpina was less than 3 cm tall, and it helped stabilize the site without interfering with woody plant establishment. Although cuttings were shorter under some seed treatments compared to the nonseeded control, heights of cuttings were not related to cover of seeded cultivars (r = 0.09, p > 0.55) but were positively correlated with total vascular plant cover (r= 0.61, p < 0.001).