Come early July, the vegetation at Twelve Hills will be mowed to a height of four to six inches. Why have all the beautiful wildflowers been cut down, you wonder?
The intent is to restore and maintain Twelve Hills as an approximation of the blackland prairie ecosystem. Community members and school children will be able to experience a wildscape reminiscent of that present in this area when settlers arrived, before the land was drastically changed by the influences of modern man.
Prairies, diverse ecosystems of native grasses and forbs, interspersed with trees near bodies of water, stay that way because of the natural processes of recurrent fires and grazing by bison. In an urban environment, these processes can not take place, so the land reverts to a forest. Urban prairies are mowed twice a year to simulate the effects of recurrent fires and grazing by bison. This mowing takes place in early winter, after plants have set their seeds, and in July, to encourage the growth of grasses. Mowing doesn’t work as well as fire to control non-native weeds, shrubs and trees, so some manual removal of invasive plants is necessary.