|Cardinal flowers, great blue lobelias and sweet black-eyed Susans|
bedazzle an understory that had been largely dead for decades.
|This area was similar to the one shown above - before restoration started. A few old oaks are present.|
Few or no wildflowers - little wildlife. No reproduction of the canopy oaks.
Young trees and shrubs are the invasive and malignant buckthorn.
|That big tree in the background is a swamp white oak.|
The relationship between this oak and the herb layer is key to this ecosystem.
The amputated limbs aren't just ugly. The flowers in this photo aren't just beautiful. In a sustainable natural system (like what we're trying to restore), this sunny matrix would also support little, reproducing swamp white oaks among the wildflowers. The future of the oaks is tied to the diverse flowers, grasses, and sedges that form the nursery bed of the next generation. In contrast, on bare ground, fast-growing trees like cottonwood or box elder win out. Oaks thrive on challenges. Their thick bark withstands fire. Their large seeds compete in a competitive turf.
Equally important - the diverse plants are interdependent with diverse (now rare) animals.
As you may know, last winter we cut - and next winter we will continue to cut - invading trees out from under the oaks. But that's just the first step. Below, check out a photo of a bit of woods that had its big buckthorns cut in the winter of 2016/17.
|What's wrong with this picture?|
Below, you can see an area where the invasive sprouts have been herbicided.
|With the buckthorn sprouts gone, this area can be planted with diverse seed this fall.|
If you're not familiar with "sampling a transect" - here's how we do it. We permanently mark a line through the woods. In this case, the line goes from tree, to tree, to easily findable tree. Then we put the sampling hoop beside the tape at the five, ten, fifteen, etc. meter mark. We identify all plant species present and estimate the area covered by each species' leaves. We record both. As you can see, taking the "before" data doesn't take us long.
The line, in this case, starts in an area where the main cutting and herbiciding has already been completed, and then runs through the area shown below:
Since this is a progress report, two more photos seem needed:
|Doll's eyes seeds reaching out of their cage|
|Doll's eyes seeds, bagged for action.|