A facility will be dedicated at 10:30 this morning in Cedar Falls that plays a big role in keeping Iowa’s roadsides bursting with beautiful flowers and prairie grasses. The Native Roadside Vegetation Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus is where all sorts of time-tested Iowa plant species are grown and the seeds are used statewide. Daryl Smith the center’s director says the center runs several interwoven programs designed to restore Iowa prairie and bring native grasses and flowers back to Iowa’s roadsides. Smith says it’s vital to preserve the few remnants of the state’s once-wide prairielands. Iowa had 28-million acres of tall-grass prairie before the state was settled and now it’s down to about one-tenth of one-percent of that, fewer than 28-thousand acres scattered statewide. He says the native flowers and grasses grown at U-N-I which are doled out statewide are the best plants for our soil.Smith says those species had ten-thousand years or more to adapt to our environment and are more capable of out-competing other invasive weeds, lowering maintenance requirements, less mowing and fewer herbicides are needed, saving money and protecting the environment. The native plant program was initiated at U-N-I in the early 1970s. The new building, being dedicated today, spans ten-thousand feet alongside 35 acres for the crops.
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