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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

National parks, SDSU join the native plant party

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Friday, October 6, 2023   

The U.S. is home to nearly 5,000 nonnative plant species. Most are not considered harmful but there are efforts to eliminate invasive ones from national parks, and South Dakota researchers are part of the project.

The National Park Service is working with a team at South Dakota State University to help restore native grasses and wildflowers at Park Service sites in the northern Great Plains region. Federal staff will be in charge of removing invasive varieties.

Lora Perkins, associate professor and lead faculty for the Native Plant Initiative at South Dakota State University, said they will focus on plant restoration with seed handling and harvesting techniques.

"National parks are like our public land heritage," Perkins contended. "We want these to be the healthiest landscapes that they can be, and native plants are a big part of that."

Perkins pointed out invasive plants can outgrow native plants and suppress them, negatively affecting surrounding wildlife. She added what stands out about this project is they will research the effectiveness of reintroducing native plants. The results could be replicated by others who want to do restoration work for other grassland areas.

Perkins stressed it is not enough for government and academic teams to prioritize these initiatives, suggesting private landowners can join the movement, too.

"Especially in the northern Great Plains, so much of our land is owned by private people," Perkins emphasized. "We don't have a whole lot of public lands."

She suggested farmers and ranchers can do their part by planting native species, or at least managing their land in a way to create a better environment for them. And homeowners can do things like including native wildflowers in yards and gardens.


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