Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a grass species that can dominate wet meadow plant communities. This study investigated if grazing by cattle on restored wet meadows suppresses reed canarygrass, thereby promoting the restored plant community. This study was conducted at two locations in northwest Minnesota, one managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the other a Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) wetland bank site. Management practices used were a patch-burn grazing treatment on the TNC site and a high-density, short-duration grazing rotation system on the BWSR site. A pretreatment survey of total species canopy coverage was conducted before grazing followed by periodic surveys up to 7 y after grazing started. Both the patch-burn grazing and the grazing rotation system reduced reed canarygrass canopy cover by 49% compared to non-grazed control sites 5–7 y after grazing. With a reduction in reed canary grass canopy coverage due to grazing, the plant community moved toward a community with higher canopy coverage of Carex pellita that met restoration goals. Some of the species change was to grasses like Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), which is an exotic, invasive grass in prairies. The changed plant community held steady in native plant species richness or had an increase in native plant species richness. This study demonstrates grazing reduces the cover of reed canarygrass, while meeting restoration goals for wet meadows.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3