Louisiana university creating acres of ‘urban prairie’

by DailyBriefers
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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana university is planting acres of native grasses and flowers to create an outdoor ecology classroom.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette says the planned Cajun Prairie Habitat and Outdoor Classroom recently got a $7,500 boost to help it grow more plants.

Planting began two years ago near a stream that runs through the University Common, a news release said. The university plans to have four acres (1.6 hectares) of prairie plants on either side of the stream, which is called Coulee Mine.

“Native plants’ expansive, fibrous root systems hold soil, reducing erosion caused by storm water runoff. They slow water drainage, which reduces flooding, and also filter contaminants,” said Gretchen LaCombe Vanicor, director of the University’s Office of Sustainability.

The CenterPoint Energy Foundation grant will pay a student worker to propagate and grow seeds from a variety of local plants, the university said. It also will provide supplies and labor for planting and cultivation, as well as covering the cost of trucking in compost for fertilizer from UL Lafayette’s Experimental Farm near Cade, Louisiana.

The area will be used for learning and research about storm water runoff erosion management, native grasses and plants, bees and other pollinators, and soil quality.

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