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Austin Peay State University’s Southeastern Grasslands Initiative hosting Volunteer Day at Dunbar Cave

Austin Peay State University (APSU)

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – This Sunday, January 27th, 2019 Austin Peay State University’s (APSU) Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI) will host its inaugural Volunteer Day, from 9:00am to 4:00pm at Dunbar Cave State Park.

Dr. Dwayne Estes, SGI director, gives a tour of local grasslands in 2017. (APSU)
Dr. Dwayne Estes, SGI director, gives a tour of local grasslands in 2017. (APSU)

The community is invited to come learn about and support the SGI projects while Nashville Public Television films these citizen scientists at work. The station will air a special on SGI in April.

For the past two years, SGI has worked to restore 15 acres of oak savanna at the park, creating a destination for the public, a research space and outdoor classroom for Austin Peay State University students and faculty and a haven for biodiversity.

The day will feature several activities, including research opportunities, restoration projects and educational field trips highlighting the region’s cultural and natural history.

SGI Volunteer Day projects include:

Biodiversity Exploration

Citizen scientists will collect information about the plants, animals and fungi of the Dunbar Cave Prairie and surrounding woodlands. To do this, volunteers will use the iNaturalist app, so bring a smart phone.

Invasive Species Removal

Volunteers will remove invasive species such as Chinese privet, multiflora rose and kudzu. Volunteers will be trained to identify and treat invasive species. Volunteers should be prepared for physical activity and bring water, snacks, work gloves and eye protection.

Brush Removal & Woodland Restoration

The Dunbar Cave Prairie is surrounded on three sides by forests and thickets. Historically, these forests were open and grassy with plenty of sunlight reaching the ground. The goal of this project is to open up the landscape, creating a gradual transition from prairie to forest. Transitional borders are more beneficial to wildlife, especially songbirds.

Clarksville’s Forgotten Prairies: Importance to History

Take a guided walk with David Britton, manager of Dunbar Cave State Park & Natural Area, and Dwayne Estes, director of SGI, and learn how the grasslands that once covered northern Clarksville were important to the region’s cultural and natural history.

Britton and Estes will discuss Native American history, buffalo trails, maps/land surveys, early settlers and explorers, tree rings and evidence from the landscape.



Ecological Data Collection and Conservation Planning

Citizen scientists will work with Austin Peay State University staff and students to collect ecological data for conservation planning. This will include coring trees and analyzing tree rings, documenting birds, collecting plant specimens and mapping landscape features at the prairie with GPS units.

Learning Through Outdoor Play – Children

During Volunteer Day, a few parents will help children harvest native grasses and build their own grass thatch huts in the prairie. This is a great opportunity for children to gain an appreciation for grassland conservation while having fun.

Participants should meet at 2131 Old Russellville Pike.


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