From March through May, crews have planted 40,000 lb of native grass and flowering plant seed across 1,200 acres of Luminant’s Kosse mine in Limestone and Robertson counties. The process, which has already resulted in newly developing grasslands, is the first step in rehabilitating existing land as a habitat for grassland birds.
“Quail and other grassland bird species are the most rapidly declining bird group in the United States today, so it’s a big focus for us to return these habitats to what they would have been,” said Jason Hardin with Texas Park & Wildlife’s Upland Game Bird Program. “Luminant’s Kosse mine is the first mine to take full advantage of the newly developed quail and grassland bird land-use practice, so we’re really excited and looking forward to seeing how it progresses.”
Grassland birds such as grasshopper sparrows, northern bobwhites, eastern meadowlarks and dickcissels have suffered over the last 25 to 30 years due to a loss of habitat from changing land-use practices, ongoing land development and the increase in woody species like junipers and oaks from the lack of wildfires. The newly planted and carefully selected seed mix will offer an ideal habitat with cover for grassland birds and their young, as well as a ready source of food from the seeds the plants will produce and the insects they will attract.
“Wildlife management and the redevelopment of wildlife habitat is an important part of our mine reclamation program at all of our Luminant mines, but here at Kosse it’s the primary focus,” said Shawn Glacken, senior vice president of environmental services, Luminant. “We’re proud to be on the forefront of this rehabilitation effort and hope our steps to create a quality wildlife habitat will help improve the future for these species.”
Luminant expects to plant another 200 acres this year, with substantial growth expected to be noticeable later this summer. Project leaders are hopeful that a variety of ground birds will call the area home by next spring.
“The grassland birds that have rapidly declined, such as our grasshopper sparrows, meadowlarks and dickcissels, will find this area and take advantage of it quickly,” said Hardin. “As soon as the structure is here, they will find it.” For more on the program, watch a video on the planting process available on Luminant’s YouTube channel.