The 4-acre Prairie Meadow habitat at Heckrodt Wetland Reserve was created west of Lopas Channel on a capped landfill in 2006. The selected seed mix provided a wide variety of plants over three seasons, with special emphasis on nectar and host plants preferred by the Monarch butterfly.
Prescribed fires are conducted on sections of this area on a rotational basis to help control invasive species and provide soil enrichment. The prairie is challenged by invasive plants, including Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), and bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). A shady section of the prairie was treated to remove persistent crown vetch (Securigera varia) in 2014-2015. A Shortgrass Prairie vegetated mat was installed containing seeds of 48 native wildflower species and 10 Grass/Sedge/Rush species to speed the recovery of the site.
The prairie is also challenged by dry hot summers due to the composition of the fill beneath the vegetation. Lack of organic material causes the soil to dry quickly, stunting plant growth in those years when the condition exists. Groundhogs (Marmota monax), whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), and various bird species including wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) are commonly seen in the prairie meadow.