Experimental Plots

In 2019, VWL initiated a collaborative research project with the Clifton Institute and the Oak Spring Garden Foundation to study grassland restoration and management techniques. The project aims to generate local knowledge about the outcomes associated with establishing and managing native grasslands in Virginia — an understudied and increasingly rare ecosystem that supports many species of native birds, plants, and pollinators.

The outcomes of any restoration project depend on a whole suite of ecological factors, ranging from land use history and soil characteristics to the installation and management methods used. Using a seed mix developed for this region, this collaborative experiment will account for site-specific conditions at three locations – SCBI, The Clifton Institute, and Oak Spring Garden Foundation – and document grassland installation and management methods over the next several years. This will include conventional as well as organic installation methods, along with common grassland management regimes including prescribed burning and bushhogging.

Collaborators and Primary Investigators:
Virginia Working Landscapes
Oak Spring Garden Foundation
The Clifton Institute
Virginia Tech

Project Timeline and Status:

2019- Ongoing


Funding for this project is provided by the Oak Spring Garden Foundation.

Project Impact:

Results from this experiment will improve our understanding of how eastern grassland restorations are impacted by interactions of existing site conditions under varying management regimes. Findings will be shared with community members to provide insights on installation and management costs, successes and challenges, and resulting plant communities and will also be shared with restoration ecologists to help inform future eastern grassland research.


VWL is supported 100% by grants and donations and our work is made possible by the generous contributions from our community.

The Smithsonian Institution is a 501(c)(3). All contributions are tax-deductible.


Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road, MRC 5537
Front Royal, Virginia 22630