Part Three: Restoring the Grassland

Part 3: Restoring the Grassland

Ecological Management Program

The Virginia Pine is an invasive species of prairie grasslands and has the potential to destroy the remaining historic serpentine grassland. The Maryland Forest, Park, and Wildlife Service has initiated an ecological management program to cut and remove the pines in order to halt their spread.

Controlled burns are also used to cut back the Virginia Pine population and restore the grasslands.

History In The Making

These photos are of the volunteers, members of the Natural Heritage Program, the State Forest and Park Service, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Maryland Conservation Corps.

Many organizations and volunteers have come together to become the first to initiate a restoration of the largest remaining serpentine ecosystem in the Eastern United States.

Some of the groups include the Natural Heritage Program, the Maryland Forest and Park Service, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Maryland Conservation Corps.

Nip The Problem In The Bud”

Conifers need to be removed while they are young in order to restore the Serpentine Grassland.

Restoration Step 1: Cutting And Clearing

These photos show volunteers cutting up and chipping heavy vegetation in the grassland.

The first step of restoration involves cutting and clearing. During the winter months, while species are dormant, volunteers remove conifer saplings from the Serpentine Grassland in order to encourage the growth of shade-intolerant plants.

Restoration Step 2: Chipping

Conifers are then chipped, and donated to the public.

Restoration Step 3: "Black Lining"

These photos are of the volunteers and fire fighters igniting controlled burns in the grassland.

Firefighters and volunteers create a firebreak simply by burning a 10-foot-wide strip called a blackline around the main burning area. This technique deliberately avoids the use of plows, rakes, or fire-retardant chemicals.

Restoration Step 4: Burning

This is another photo of fire fighters burning vegetation in the Serpentine grassland.

Controlled burning is closely monitored by wildland firefighters and ecologists of the Natural Heritage Division. The goal is to restore the Serpentine Grassland to conditions maintained by Native Americans for thousands of years before English settlement.

Backpack Pumps

Backpack Pumps are small water tanks that allow wildland firefighters to quickly carry five gallons of water with them into limited access areas.

Fire Rakes

Fire Rakes are wildland firefighting tools that are used to create fire breaks.

Wildland firefighters rake flammable materials into the already burning area, creating a control line. This slows down the fire’s spread by making sure it cannot burn outside the fire break.

Native Wildflowers Begin To Recover

This photo shows all of the wildflowers that were able to grow in the grassland once the trees were removed.

A few months after restoration efforts, native plants begin to recolonize areas that were once covered by shade.

One Year After Clearing And Burning

The photo depicted here is a large grassland full of healthy wildflowers.

Serpentine Grassland vegetation responds quickly to clearing and burning. One year after clearing and burning, rare and endangered species begin growing throughout the grassland.


​​Go to Part Four