A 2.5-acre stretch of Founders Park is being reseeded to establish what the Rapid City Parks Department claims will be the first natural vegetation area along a traffic greenway.
Department workers on Wednesday began planting a native foothills prairie grass and a wildflower mix along the western part of the park that runs beside Omaha Street to the intersection with Mountain View Road. In addition to adding an array of colors to the landscape, city Urban Forester Andy Bernard said the new plant life could save money on maintenance in the long run, though he did not speculate as to how much.
“We mow over a thousand acres in the parks division, and we can struggle to maintain that at times,” Bernard said.
The type of grass that parks crews planted Wednesday can grow to heights of 12 to 32 inches, considerably taller than the non-irrigated mix that Bernard said grows there currently. New wildflowers, he said, will grow just as high.
As a result, Bernard said it will only need to be mowed about once a season instead of every other week like most city-owned green spaces.
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The city also believes that the new flora will better soak up stormwater runoff that flows into Rapid Creed and possibly appeal to pollinators. Prairie grass, Bernard said, is known to attract bees and other insects.
"That really is one of the big pushes too, is to try and creates some of these pollinator safe havens,” he said.
In the near future, the department plans on installing a small path through the waist-high vegetation. The $700 worth of grass and flower mix, Bernard said, could also be planted at other public properties that Rapid City believes are minimally used.
While nothing has yet been made official, Bernard said two parts of Memorial Park could be reseeded — one in the western end, and another along East Boulevard across from the intersection with E. St. Louis Street.
Bernard said the new grass and flowers will begin sprouting in around two weeks.