- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Crews have chemically burned off Kentucky bluegrass and are preparing to plant native grasses in parts of Hilger’s Gulch park on the state Capitol grounds in Pierre.

By early June, maintenance crews will start planting a mix of buffalo and blue grama grasse, State Bureau of Administration Commissioner Jeff Holden told the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/1V7m0H2 ). It will then take about two or three weeks for the grass to germinate.

“By the end of June you should see some activity,” Holden said.

The grass and wildflower seeds will cost less than $6,100, which he said is less than the Bureau of Administration initially thought they would cost.

In the meantime, Holden said crews will finish the newly paved walking trails along the small creek in Hilger’s Gulch, where they have had to wait for conditions to dry out from recent rains.

Holden said some trees and shrubs have already been planted and a few purple martin bird houses have been installed.

Last summer, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the initiative to replace the Kentucky bluegrass in the park with native plants and grasses, as well as to build more talking paths. The plan was advertised as an effort to reduce maintenance, chemical use and expenses.

Opponents fought to keep the park as it was, eventually leading to changes that keep Kentucky bluegrass in high-use areas in the park and increase walking paths.

The park is named for John D. Hilger, one of Pierre’s founders.

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Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com

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