Tom's Blog

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Oak Savanna Restoration: Opening Up the Woods

Oak savanna restoration involves a lot of delicate removal of invasive trees and shrubs. (I refrain from using the word “logging”, which has connotations of habitat destruction.)

The long-term goal of the restoration process is an unimpaired functioning ecosystem in which viable populations of native species are maintained. This includes not only oaks, but associated tree species, as well as an understory of native herbaceous savanna plants with occasional native shrubs. Also, a range of ages in the oaks is desirable, thus ensuring continued integrity of the savanna ecosystem.

Much of the initial tree removal work can be carried out in parallel with brush removal. The cut brush provides an excellent base for the burn pile that is an essential part of the tree removal process. All cut stumps (both trees and brush) must be treated with herbicide, generally Garlon 3A 15% in water) or Garlon 4 20% in oil, to prevent resprouts. Glyphosate can also be used, at 50% dilution in water. Always add a dye to the herbicide mixture so that crew members will know that cut stumps have been treated. It is essential to treat the stumps soon after cutting to be certain that they are not missed.

Tree removal is a slow and expensive operation. A lot depends on the initial quality of the site, the terrain, and its access. The time required for the complete cutting and cleaning a savanna site in southern Wisconsin on fairly difficult terrain varied between 100 and 200 person-hours per acre.

Here are some thoughts about the removal process:

·         The ideal time to clear an area is winter, when the ground is frozen hard and there is (at least a light) snow on the ground. Under these conditions, the soil is not disturbed and (depending on slope) a truck (1/2 to 3/4 ton) can be driven off-road to pick up cut wood. Also, burn piles can be used without danger of fire getting out of control. Depending on the location, there may be two or three months of suitable conditions. Clean-up and some other less impactful parts of the job could be done at other times of the year.

·         Select a site (5 acres or less) to be restored. This is a site with large open-grown oaks. It should also be a site with good access (so that firewood or saw logs can be brought out).

·         Ideally, the land manager (who does not do any cutting) should be on site, at least at the beginning of the work, and preferably daily when major tree cutting is in progress.

·         Survey the site and mark trees, either those to be saved or those to be cut. Marking trees to be saved is preferable. Be sure everyone on the crew understands the markings!

·         One or more burn piles are needed. It is most efficient to burn at the time of cutting, with the burn pile centered in the area being cut. If it is not possible to burn at the time of cutting, keep the number of burn piles at a minimum by building large piles. (A 10-12 foot high burn pile is fairly common in savanna restoration.)

·         Select sites for burn piles. These should be in open areas, so that flames do not affect nearby branches of important trees. Make sure there is enough open space for the anticipated size of the pile(s). If there is no snow on the ground, use a leaf blower to clear a wide fuel-free zone around the pile.

·         Start a burn pile. To do this, collect downed timber and standing dead trees or shrubs, getting enough fuel to start the fire. Start the fire with drip torch fuel (diesel or kerosene could also be used). The fire will be maintained by further cutting. Keep the burn pile compact by trimming side branches before throwing them on the pile. The branches and logs should be laid on the burn pile in parallel fashion to ensure a good burn. In a well-built burn pile, the fire will be easy to start and to maintain. In a large site, more than one burn pile should be made. Burn piles should be preferably 100 feet apart.

·         While the burn pile is being established, other crew members can start on the trees. Here is the procedure used by an experienced crew leader.


“We had only one person cutting down trees.  It is important to cut down the trees one at a time. Cut down one tree and put it on the burn pile before cutting down the next. This is actually quicker than cutting down several trees at once. This is because cleaning up several trees on the ground is much slower.

The downed tree is cut into pieces (chunks) that are large but small enough to be dragged by a single person to the burn pile.  Once at the burn pile another person with a chain saw cuts the tree chunks into pieces of appropriate size to be placed on the burn pile.  A third person puts the pieces on the pile.

     This description calls for 4 people. If the trees are small, two people can be cutting trees, as long as the two crews are far enough apart so as to not interfere with one another. Two people to drag each tree chunk and one or two people to cut the chunks into pieces for the pile. It is important that the pieces are placed in parallel on the pile so that they burn quickly.” Willis Brown, CEO of Michler & Brown LLC.

·         Make sure that when the tree falls it does not damage any protected oaks. Cut the small branches into size to throw on the burn pile. If the tree is to become firewood, cut the bole into segments short enough to lift into a truck or leave for cutting by a cooperator who has agreed to remove the fire wood. For saw logs, cut in 8 foot or larger segments. Mark these saw logs and leave in place for later skidding to a nearby road.

·         Crew size: Four is the minimum. Six is preferable.

·         Important! Do not try to drag large cut trees or logs long distances! Bring the crew to the trees. If the work is done when the ground is frozen, the soil will not be disturbed.

Typical view around an actively burning brush pile
All of the small logs and twigs will be burned up by the end of the day


Getting rid of the wood
The goal of savanna restoration is to create an open tree canopy (10-50% cover). The goal of tree removal is not to generate trees for market, but to restore the land to its former state.

Although it may be possible to have some economic return from the cut trees, this should only be done if it can be ensured that damage to the habitat will not occur. Loggers operate with a different rationale than restoration ecologists. Slash that a logger might leave is often not compatible with the restoration process and logging trucks may damage fragile topsoil layers.

Removal of woody plants is best done in the winter, preferably when there is snow on the ground. Selection of personnel is important. The workers should be able to identify the various tree species in winter and should be careful when felling trees to be certain that they will not damage nearby trees that are to remain.

Although wheeled vehicles are essential for tree bole removal, they should only be permitted when the ground is frozen solid (preferably with some snow cover). If firewood removal is not to occur, the logs must be cut in lengths short enough for a single person to place them on the fire.


Unless the crew is very experienced, the land manager should be on site when tree cutting is being carried out to monitor the process. Once a tree is cut it is gone forever!

Nicely cleared slope with scattered brush piles. They will be burned on snow.
Although this is a mainly a prairie remnant, the same principles apply.



Large brush pile being tended. Note that for stability it has been built adjacent
to a tree that is also to be cut down.



Felling a large tree. This whole unit is being cleared, and when the work is
done, only scattered open-grown oaks will be left.


Low impact skidding of large walnut saw logs. This tractor can haul three logs at a time.
Much faster than a horse or oxen!





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Buckthorn eradication: a 20-year story

This post is based on 20-years work restoring oak savannas and tallgrass prairie remnants at PVC. During that period, we were able to obtain a lot of experience on the eradication of invasive woody plants, of which buckthorn was the most difficult. See the table at the end for an index to my blog posts that dealt with buckthorn.

Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is the #1 invasive shrub on the IPAW list. When we started serious restoration work at Pleasant Valley Conservancy in 1997, it was present in very dense patches throughout most of the savanna areas. Later I discovered that buckthorn is a calciphile, and was growing mainly in high-calcium high-pH soils derived from or influenced by dolomitic rocks. In many of the calcium-rich oak savanna areas, the  understory was almost a buckthorn monoculture.

During our major restoration work, buckthorn was removed at the same time as all the other invasive woody plants. Buckthorn removal mainly involved cutting the buckthorn thickets with a brush cutter or chain saw, and treating all the cut stems with herbicide (generally Garlon 3A at 15-20%). Buckthorn was not the only “bad” plant in our degraded oak savannas, but in the calcium-rich areas it was the principal one. The mature open-grown savanna oaks were also being crowded by invasive trees such as walnut, elm, cherry. There were even some “bad” oaks, such as the more rapid-growing oaks of the black oak group, and these were removed also.

According to my notes, all of the large patches of buckthorn were removed during the major clearing that took place in 1998 through 2004.

Once the savanna areas were cleared, fire was introduced as a principal tool. Although the use of fire was important, it only top-kills woody plants. The underground rootstock remains alive, and quickly resprouts. In fact, there is a strong “legacy” of woody plants in any formerly wooded area. If a cleared area is abandoned, it will quickly become overgrown again.

Although this “legacy” is important for most woody species, it is especially severe with buckthorn. It took me some years to discover that with buckthorn there are three legacies:

  • 1.      Buckthorn produces a toxic chemical called emodin which inhibits the growth of other plants and prevents “good” plants from becoming established. It creates what we have called a “buckthorn desert”. It generally takes about three years for the toxic chemical to dissipate.
  • 2.      An extensive seed bank from the large number of berries produced. (Although only the female buckthorn plants produce berries, the ratio of female to male plants can be as high as 6:1.) The seed bank only lasts a few years.
  • 3.      An extensive rootstock (sometimes called a caudex) from which new shoots can arise. It took me some years to realize that the rootstock of the buckthorn can remain dormant from many years.

In the earlier years of our restoration work I did not realize the seriousness of the buckthorn problem. (I hardly mentioned it in the new management plan I wrote in June 2005.) It was not until 2006-2007 when we did our major “all-out” push to clear brambles and other woody shrubs that had arisen since the initial restoration work, that I became aware that we also had a buckthorn problem.

By this time I had started my first Blog (Tom’s Journal), and buckthorn was a major topic. The table at the end of this document gives links to the various Blog posts. 

There is a lot of internet material on buckthorn, mostly focusing on getting rid of it. Most of this work is based on short-term studies, or on anecdotal evidence. Buckthorn has a complicated ecology, which enters into a discussion of control methods.

Through the 20-year period that I have been following buckthorn I determined that buckthorn rootstock can be long-lived, and remain dormant for many years. Thus, an area that once had had a large buckthorn infestation can have numerous invisible and dormant rootstocks.

In order to get some quantitative data, in 2010 I chose a site of about 100 X 100 feet where buckthorn had been removed around 2000 but kept coming back. I canvassed the site carefully and sprayed each buckthorn shoot with Garlon 3A (foliar at 4% aqueous). Most of the plants had only single shoots, but some had more than one. I sprayed all the shoots I could find at each survey.

In the three early years, when there were lots of shoots, I returned over and over again at 2-3 week intervals, and sprayed all the “new” buckthorn shoots that had arisen. At the end of each season, I made sure that there were no live buckthorn shoots left.

The table shows the results. My conclusion was that in this small, buckthorn-rich area, there were many dormant rootstocks, but not all of them left dormancy the same year.

Year
Buckthorn shoots sprayed
Year total
2010
not recorded
>300
2011
12 + 30 + 71 + 35 + 27
175
2012
17 +18 + 55 + 5 + 44 + 20 + 82
241
2013
6 + 7 + 8
21
2014
0
0
 
Buckthorn resprouts, waiting to be sprayed! These could be either from
fire-killed plants or from dormant rootstock




I should emphasize that the original removal of buckthorn was in either 1999 or 2000. Unanswered is what stimulates these dormant rootstocks to start growing after many years?

My conclusion is that buckthorn might be eradicated from a site, but it might take many years.

Note that the area I studied had been heavily “infected” by buckthorn, and that there was plenty of time for the plants to make extensive underground rootstocks. Sites recently colonized by buckthorn might be eradicated much easier. However, I suspect that most sites in southern Wisconsin that are full of old-growth buckthorn would be similar to my site, especially if they had dolomitic soils.

A single buckthorn plant still green after the native vegetation has senesced.
Can be sprayed without causing any peripheral damage,
with either glyphosate or triclopyr

Today Pleasant Valley Conservancy is virtually free of buckthorn! This is because we have worked very hard to kill the plant when we see it. Every year, we canvass all sites where buckthorn has been a problem.

We are especially helped by the fact that all of the savanna areas, where buckthorn had been the biggest problem, are burned each year. Fire keeps buckthorn at a juvenile status, and prevents any extensive spread by underground roots or rhizomes. Fire makes it possible for us to spray buckthorn shoots when they are still small (foliar spraying is done in the spring).


Any buckthorn plants not killed in the spring can be killed when they are found in summer, autumn, or winter by basal bark treatment. The dark shiny leaves of buckthorn plants make them easy to spot, especially in the fall of the year when native vegetation has senesced.

Single buckthorn stem that had been basal-barked 
with 20% Garlon 4 in oil. The leaves are curled
and dying.


Blog posts through the years on buckthorn. The ones before 2008 are no longer available
Date published
Title
Link
26-Sept 2006
Buckthorn
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
20-March 2007
Hundreds of small buckthorns
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
3-Apt 2007
What does it cost to cut brush?
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
7-May 2007
Successful results of brush clearing
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
1-July 2007
Buckthorn seedlings
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
16-Oct 2007
The underground life of buckthonr
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
24-Oct 2007
Attacking small buckthorn
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
9 Nov- 2007
A few joys of herbicide spraying
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
12-Nov-2007
More spraying [buckthorn]
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
13-Nov 2007
Like a needle in a haystack
Tom’s Journal (Blog) no longer available
15-Jun-2008
Buckthorn and the oak savanna
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/buckthorn-and-oak-savanna.html
6-Oct-2008
Good time for foliar spraying of small buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/good-time-for-foliar-spraying-of-small.html
20-Oct-2008
Buckthorn spraying continues
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/buckthorn-spraying-continues.html
23-Oct-2008
All out attack on buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/all-out-attack-on-buckthorn.html
3-Nov-2008
Buckthorn out of control
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/buckthorn-out-of-control.html
25-May-2009
From brambles to buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/from-brambles-to-buckthorn.html
3-Sep-2009
Dealing with small buckthorn: a two-fisted approach
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/dealing-with-small-buckthorn-two-fisted.html
2-Oct-2009
Controlling invasives around the big bur oak
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/controlling-invasives-around-big-bur.html
26-Nov-2009
Soil pH/Calcium and buckthorn distribution
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/soil-phcalcium-and-buckthorn.html
1-Dec-2009
Buckthorn control by basal bark treatment
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/buckthorn-control-by-basal-bark.html
10-Apr-2010
Response of buckthorn to basal bark herbicide treatment
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/response-of-buckthorn-to-basal-bark.html
6-May-2010
Eliminating small buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/eliminating-small-buckthorn.html
17-May-2010
Spraying resprouts; big weekend
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/spraying-resprouts-big-weekend.html
21-Aug-2010
Buckthorn underground
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/buckthorn-underground.html
29-Oct-2010
Mazo Bluff buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/mazo-bluff-buckthorn.html
12-Nov-2010
Final days for buckthorn control?
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/final-days-for-buckthorn-control.html
27-May-2011
Story of a small buckthorn area
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/story-of-small-buckthorn-area.html
10-Aug-2011
Anatomy and significance of a buckthorn root collar
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2011/08/anatomy-and-significance-of-buckthorn.html
21-Oct-2011
Buckthorn: late fall reprise
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/buckthorn-late-fall-reprise.html
11-Apr-2012
Power Point on buckthorn eradication
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/power-point-on-buckthorn-eradication.html
11-Oct-2012
Brown thrasher flushed from nest while spraying buckthorn
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/brown-thrasher-flushed-from-nest-while.html
15-May-2013
Selective spraying of leafed-out invasive shrubs
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/selective-spraying-of-leafed-out.html
21-May-2013
Buckthorn: what will mowing do?
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/buckthorn-what-will-mowing-do_21.html
16-Nov-2013
Good time for major buckthorn control work
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2013/11/good-time-for-major-buckthorn-control.html
18-Sep-2014
Buckthorn eradication: results of a five-year study
http://pvcblog.blogspot.com/2014/09/buckthorn-eradication-results-of-five.html

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Can Brambles Be Eradicated From Prairies and Savannas? A Long Story


Brambles (genus Rubus) may be native but they are generally undesirable in a prairie or savanna. This post is based on over 20 years of restoration work at Pleasant Valley Conservancy.

The story starts when Kathie and I first started clearing invasive brush and trees from prairie and savanna remnants at PVC in 1997. There was lots of bad stuff: shrubs such as buckthorn, honeysuckle, and prickly ash and trees such as elm, cedar, red pine (planted), box elder. If there were brambles, we did not notice them. Probably they were shade-suppressed.

But once the site was opened up, brambles started to flourish. Originally they were just small patches, which in our ignorance we ignored. In 1999 some of these bramble patches were large enough that we got rid of them. There may have been some larger patches, but in a property as large as Pleasant Valley Conservancy, it was easy to overlook them.

What was the source of these brambles? Both buried root stock and buried seeds are likely. I doubt the root stock is long lived, but Rubus seeds are notoriously long-lived. (A U.S. Forest Service study in New England found viable Rubus seeds that had been buried for 95 years.) 

The Ecology of Brambles
Brambles are members of the genus Rubus. They have perennial roots systems but biennial tops. The roots continue to spread but new canes are formed each year. The first year cane just grows vegetatively and in the second year flowers and forms fruits. After fruit formation it dies. Thus, a bramble patch is a mixture of first year and second year canes, as well as dead canes which senesce.

We have three species of Rubus at PVC: blackberries, black raspberries, red raspberries. All are bad, and we do not distinguish between them, although red raspberries presents a special challenge.

The First Survey

It was 2005 before brambles started to be so obvious that we could not ignore them. That year I made a survey, marking each patch with a numbered stake. There were 17 patches, all in open savannas. My notes in the table here give some idea of how large these bramble patches were.

Data from June 5-6 2005
Stake #
Unit #
Location
Notes
1
12A
~75 ft below the upper road (below Toby’s); large patch in flower
White Oak Savanna
2
12A
~75 ft farther down the hill from #1; edge of Unit 12E; large patch in flower
White Oak Savanna
3
12A
Smaller patch but taller stems west of #1
White Oak Savanna
4
12C
Large patch among two large dead oaks; also outliers east and downhill
White Oak Savanna
5
12C
About 75 ft east of trail down; along a drainage; follow the drainage up and down
White Oak Savanna
6
11A
Edge of open area and edge of ridge; shorter plants but lots; forming berries
Bur Oak Savanna
7
11A
Near road; low but lots forming berries
Bur Oak Savanna
8
11A
50 fit West of #7 near fallen oak
Bur Oak Savanna
9
13B
Lots of 1st year plants mixed in with Geraniuum etc. Can cut it all. Whole top of knoll, also
Woods near east property boundary
10
17
N of Toby’s in former aspen zone; scattered but large patch; 1st year plants
Between Toby’s NE corner and woods
11
11B
Above Paul Ihm’s wood pile
Bur Oak Savanna
12
11A
SE corner of saddle; large patch with little good; mow up hill and to the east also
Bur Oak Savanna
13
23
Large patch of low brambles; uphill to the west from the saddle; do the whole patch
East-facing hill above Hickory Ravine
14
7
Very large patch uphill from Hickory Ravine; mow down hill and to the east

15
6
Top of hill near fire break; 75 ft west of side road; large patch of low brambles; mow down the hill and into the gully

16
10
Across the fire break from stake #15; big patch mixed in with brush; cut it all and then treat the brush
Should have a second person with you for treating the cut stumps
17
5C/5B
West of Unit 4 along and below the fire break on both sides of the gully; huge area
This is a two-three person job!

Getting Serious
At that time the only information I could find about how to eradicate brambles was: Mowing several times a year will reduce their vigor.

Reducing vigor did not sound like a promising method for eradication.

By the late fall of 2005 Kathie and I had decided that our goal should be to get rid of all brambles, as well as other invasive brush that had sprung up in our restored areas. After all, we had spent a lot of effort opening up these prairies and savanna. If we did not get rid of all these new invaders, we could be back where we started. An awful thought!

We experimented with several different methods of herbicide application: foliar spraying the bramble patches (low herbicide concentration); basal bark (high concentration, in oil); cut and treat the cut stems (high concentration, either aqueous of in oil). We rejected foliar spraying of the large patches because of the possible peripheral herbicide damage. We tried basal bark, but application from a backpack sprayer was also “wasterful” of herbicide, and because of the high concentration, there were bare zones around the treated patches. We also tried a sponge method for basal bark, but the thorns on the brambles tore the sponges to shreds.

Cut-and-treat method
We chose the “cut-and-treat” method because only small amounts of herbicide would be used, and it could be applied carefully by a spray bottle. Because of the extent of the infestations, this was usually a four- to five-person job. One person operated the Stihl brush cutter and the others followed along with spray bottles containing 50%  glyphosate. Since we were working primarily in the winter, when it was below freezing we diluted the glyphosate with windshield washer fluid. Where there was a lot of buckthorn, we used Garlon 4 in oil, which presented no freezing problem in the winter. The “treaters” fanned out behind the brush cutter and treated each cut stem.

A great advantage of this method is that it could be done any time of year, and especially at times when weed work, plant surveys, seed collecting, etc. could not be done. We worked with a combination of hired employees and volunteers.

I ran some preliminary versions of this method in late November 2005. We then set up a major effort on the White Oak Savanna starting in early January 2006. Todd Shumate from Michler & Brown ran the brush cutter and three or four “treaters” followed behind. Todd cut every woody shrub in the savanna. Brambles constituted at least half of the brush, but honeysuckle and prickly ash were substantial.

The brush cutter was equipped with a saw blade. Todd ran the brush cutter until he ran out of gas (about 45 minutes per tank). He then sharpened the saw blade with a special Stihl file. This kept the cut stems clean and flat so they could be treated properly. Cut stems that were dead were not treated. (Living cut stems are green even in the winter.)

The First Major Effort
The table gives an example of this work for a five-acre white oak savanna. Finishing the whole unit took 9 days, working about 40 person hours per acre. Fortunately, January of 2006 was surprisingly mild and snow-free. Often we were in shirt sleeves at noon.

Table shows brush cutting work on Unit 12A (the White Oak Savanna). Total area 5.3 acres

2-Feb-06
31-Jan-06
26-Jan-06
24-Jan-06
19-Jan-06
17-Jan-06
12-Jan-06
5-Jan-06
3-Jan-06
Totals
Todd
5.5
5.25
7
6.75
6.75
6.75
5.5
6.75

50.25
Susan
5.5



5.75
5.25
5.5
5.75

27.75
Elke
5.5

6

5.75




17.25
Tom
5.5
4.9
6
5.5
5.75
5.25
5.5
4
2
44.4
Kathie
5.5
4.9
6
5.5
5.75
5.25
5.5
5.75
2
46.15
Brian
2.25



4.25


2

8.5











Final total









194.3






















Averages>>
36.7
hrs/acre









If assume $25/hr, acreage cost is










$917.50










Roughly $1000/acre












Extending the Effort (2006-2007)
Once the White Oak Savanna work was completed, we extended the work to the rest of the areas where brush and brambles were rampant. The table shows the 2006-2007 work (81 work days; 30 days in 2006 and 51 days in 2007.)

In 2007 I established winter intern positions, and we had 3 (or 4) UW-Madison students working two days a week starting in January and continuing until mid May.

Date
Unit
Notes
7 Feb 2006
18
Lots of honeysuckle; brambles; prickly ash; walnut resprouts
9 Feb 2006
18
Lots of honeysuckle; brambles; prickly ash; walnut resprouts
14 February 2006
18
Lots of honeysuckle; brambles; prickly ash; walnut resprouts
21 Feb 2006
6
Mostly honeys; small buckth; few brmbles; some dogwood
23 Feb 2006
2 below Diag Trail
Lots honeys few buckth; fee brmbles
28 Feb 2006
12B
Mostly brambles
2 Mar 2006
12B

7 Mar 2006
3 (around big bur oak)
Mostly brambles
7 Mar 2006
19C
Buckth mostly
10 Mar 2006
6/23
Lots little buckth
11 Mar 2006
6/23

14 Mar 2006
11
Big bramble; buckth; prickly ash
21 Mar 2006
11

23 Mar 2006
10
Lots tiny buckth; brambles
28 Mar 2006
6 (east)
Honeys; brambles; s umac
30 Mar 2006
19

17 Nov 2006
7
Lower part and adjacent to 18; shrubs/brambles small honeys; cut & treat glypho
19 Nov 2006
7
small honeys buckth brambles; few walnuts
21 Nov 2006
7

27 Nov 2006

Lots of notes about cut & treat and then plant
30 Nov 2006
3/6
Gully above big bur; lots brambles; some honeys; few buckth; grape
5 Dec 2006
6/9
Gully between 6 & 9; see record for details of how we did it
12 Dec 2006
6/9
top of gully; gray dogw
15 Dec 2006
6/9
Continue from 12 Dec
17 Dec 2006
12A
Check for brush/bramble problems; 9 areas listed; mostly brambles (all 3 spp)
19 Dec 2006
6/9
gully/brambles
26 Dec 2006
6
gully below S fire break; 
28 Dec 2006
6
Finish unit 6
28 Dec 2006
3/9
above gully
2 Jan 2007
5
Up to fire break
2 Jan 2007
3

3 Jan 2007
4/9
Winter interns; paint stick!
4 Jan 2007
3/4/9
lots of honeys on Unit 9; walnuts; Autumn olive!
8 Jan 2007
19A
Top, near Toby’s; Chris instead of Todd
9 Jan 2007
3/4/9

10 Jan 2007
3/5
gully above diagonal trail
11 Jan 2007
5B/C

15 Jan 2007
20
near Pocket Prairie; snowed 5 inches the day before; worked anyway
17 Jan 2007
20
Also bur oak grove near chain
18 Jan 2007
20
Along woods road; lots blackberry lots hazel elderberry
22 Jan 2007
20

24 Jan 2007
20
Finish Unit 20
25 Jan 2007
21
snow too deep move to top of hill
26 Jan 2007
20

29 Jan 2007
21
West of Ridge Prairie
30 Jan 2007

too cold, did not work
31 Jan 2007
21
snow mostly gone
1 Feb 2007
21
Just T & K
5 Feb 2007

Below zero in morning; work cancelled all week
12 Feb 2007
12A
Lots of dead buckth but some alive
13 Feb 2007
19E/11E
19E too windy; moved to 11D
14 Feb 2007
11D

15 Feb 2007
11D
large blackberry patch; Mid Savanna Trail
16 Feb 2007
11D
finished this unit
19 Feb 2007
2
gully above 2 bur oaks
20 Feb 2007
2/3
finish gully up to fire break; lots sumac; some honeys; some buckth; rare bramble
21 Feb 2007
2
above diagonal trail
22 Feb 2007
2
above diagonal trail
26 Feb 2007
7
Lower & middle on west side
27 Feb 007
7
Middle & upper; around East Overlook rocks
28 Feb 2007
6/7
Up from Hickory Ravine into Unit 6
2 Mar 2007
Ravine
Ravine between 12A and 20B; lots of snow drifts!
5 Mar 2007
14
Corner PV Rd &  Cty F; snow deep!
5 Mar 2007
1
Less snow; road cut for Unit 1
6 Mar 2007
5A

6 Mar 2007
20B
after lunch finish 20B
7 Mar 2007
14
below quarry
8 Mar 2007
5A
Up to Ridge Trail
8 Mar 2007
6
Afer lunch, 5A too sloppy, moved to 6 lower east around rocks, lots of honeys but small
12 Mar 2007
5A

13 Mar 2007
5A
Above Unit 1 and along Ridge Trail; FINISH WHOLE SOUTH SLOPE!!
13 Mar 2007
Quarry
After lunch
14 Mar 2007
2/19
Finish Unit 2; start Unit 19
15 Mar 2007
6
along dolomite shelf
15 Mar 2007
19

20 Mar 2007
19D/E

22 March2007
19C/D

28 Mar 2007
20C/19D
Finish 20C
4 Apr 2007
19C

5 Apr 2007
19C


Fire and Brambles: Spraying Resprouts
Brambles are fairly fire sensitive and are killed by a controlled burn.

Fire moving through a bramble patch in a savanna. All  bramble stems are killed.


Starting in 2008 we added another method of bramble control: foliar spraying of resprouts after the bramble canes had been killed by early spring burns. The details of this method are covered in several Tom’s Blog posts in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Although this method is very effective, it is limited to May or early June, when the resprouts are small enough to spray without too much peripheral damage. To set up the spraying routine, I created another bramble database. By then I had learned how to  use ArcGIS. On 14 and 16 April 2009 I walked the whole south side of PVC, recording the coordinates of each patch

After a burn, bramble patches are fairly easy to spot, as the following photo shows.

Large bramble patch easily seen after a spring burn. Unit 11B; red raspberry patch
Typical resprouts after the brambles have been top-killed by fire; Mid-May
Spraying bramble resprouts about mid-May. Any other woody invasives such as
buckthorn or honeysuckle are also sprayed. Often a crew of 4-5  would work on the same unit
Table used to create an ArcGIS map of brambles. The date burned was used to determine which units to spray first.

Patch
Lat
Lon
Unit
Species
Date burned
Priority
Notes
1
43.10559567
-89.80980858
Cabin
Blackberry
4/3/2009
1
Small
2
43.10625558
-89.81188151
Crane
Blackberry
4/3/2009
2
Moderate
3
43.10738856
-89.81244938
Crane
Blackberry
4/3/2009
6
Huge!
4
43.10493216
-89.80763666
Valley
Blackberry
4/3/2009
4
Large in line
5
43.10473401
-89.80720634
Valley
Blackberry
4/3/2009
1
Small
6
43.10489771
-89.80679244
Unit 7
Red raspberry
3/19/2009
4
Large-blackberry + red raspberry
7
43.106673
-89.80296275
Unit 12B
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
2
Moderate
8
43.10670745
-89.80279796
Unit 12B
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
2
Moderate
9
43.10649136
-89.8028195
Unit 12A
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
3
Both red and black raspberry
10
43.10642933
-89.80255279
Unit 12A
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Huge!--also hazel
11
43.10747255
-89.80242924
Unit 19E
Black raspberry
4/3/2009
3
Loose patches scattered
12
43.10759794
-89.80236797
Unit 19E
Blackberry
4/3/2009
1
Small plus burdock
13
43.10737649
-89.80267533
Unit 19E
Black raspberry
4/3/2009
1
Small, near road
14
43.10721648
-89.80272344
Unit 11B
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
2
By road, across from 19E, linear along road
15
43.10718882
-89.80436982
Unit 11B
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Very large! Also clone S and W of AP1
16
43.10696955
-89.8050278
Unit 11B
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Very large clone around stake AP2
17
43.10694985
-89.80539626
Unit 11A
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Very large clone around stake AP3
18
43.10729401
-89.80591837
Unit 19C
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
5
Large clone near road
19
43.10664257
-89.80375467
Unit 11D
Blackberry
4/8/2009
2
100 feet W of Junction of the two trails
20
43.1063953
-89.80440527
Unit 11D
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
5
In middle of unit, large clone
21
43.10640126
-89.80471448
Unit 11D
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
3
In middle, farther toward gully than BR20
22
43.10649178
-89.80462773
Unit 11D
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
1
25 ft S of Mid Sav Trail; Small clone
23
43.10664115
-89.80473007
Unit 11C
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
1
Above Mid Sav, near trail, near large hickory; small clone
24
43.10663964
-89.80479612
Unit 11C
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
1
Small clone, short stems, above Mid Sav
25
43.10649354
-89.80546198
Unit 11C
Blackberry
4/8/2009
3
Near Mid Sav and just E of large white oak
26
43.10438147
-89.80366163
Unit 20
Black raspberry
4/18/2009
6
By woods road, very large clone
27
43.10416186
-89.80353146
Unit 21
Black raspberry
4/18/2009
1
Fairly small, near woods road
28
43.10581922
-89.79962222
Unit 13
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Top of knoll, very large clone, also down all sides
29
43.10412599
-89.80182314
Unit 21
Black raspberry
4/18/2009
1
At S end of Ridge Prairie, smallclone
30
43.10433671
-89.801943
Unit 21
Black raspberry
4/18/2009
3
West of BR29, larger, fairly loose clone
31
43.10670761
-89.79977419
Unit 13
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
5
N side, down hill from knoll and near fire break separating Toby's N; very large but loose
32
43.10691012
-89.79992732
Toby's N aspen
Blackberry
4/18/2009
1
Near fire break to Unit 13, small
33
43.10757849
-89.80411207
Unit 19D
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
3
Middle betw woods road and N fire break, med-sized clone
34
43.10703333
-89.80819951
Unit 10
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
1
Near road and bur oak #704,fairly small clone
35
43.10691431
-89.8089574
Unit 8
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
1
Near Parking, small clone near downed logs
36
43.1066963
-89.8089258
Unit 8
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Very large loose clone; lower SE side of unit
37
43.10709964
-89.8086979
Unit 19B
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
5
fairly large, near end road and AP-8
38
43.10714708
-89.80853898
Unit 19B
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
6
very large, up from N fire break and E of AP-8
39
43.10716728
-89.80809876
Unit 19B
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
1
small clone by road
40
43.10708078
-89.80763918
Unit 19B
Red raspberry
4/8/2009
6
very large clones of all three spp., between woods road and N fire break--MAJOR JOB
41
43.10713316
-89.80734958
Unit 19B
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
5
Large patch, about 1/2 did not burn
42
43.10599859
-89.80708379
Unit 23
Black raspberry
3/19/2009
1
Near saddle road; may have been sprayed?
43
43.10604746
-89.80672413
Unit 11A
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Up from saddle road, E of AP stake, very large clones almost merging; runs NE/SW along the edge of the ridge, about 15 ft E of AP stake
46
43.10588418
-89.8065357
Unit 11A
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
2
Downhill from BR43, right next to saddle road; smallish clone
47
43.10568452
-89.8063311
Unit 11A
Black raspberry
4/8/2009
6
Very large clone between saddle road and Mid Sav Trail; all day job for 1 person!!
48
43.1054303
-89.80646202
Unit 7
Red raspberry
3/19/2009
5
Below saddle road;large scattered loose; from Hickory Ravine to rock outcrop
49
43.10424141
-89.80488572
Valley
Black raspberry
4/3/2009
3
Far E end by fire break; narrow patch along break; also some East of the fire break
50
43.10448431
-89.80189255
Unit 21
Black raspberry
4/18/2009
5
Near top, W of Ridge Prairie; large; good area to plant
51
43.10472043
-89.80143623
Unit 21
Blackberry
4/18/2009
2
Moderate
52
43.10612004
-89.80752091
Unit 6
Black raspberry
3/19/2009
2
Top of gully near S fire break; moderate
53
43.10624929
-89.80765586
Unit 6
Black raspberry
3/19/2009
5
Up from gully near bur oak grove; large loose clone
54
43.10630059
-89.80788318
Unit 6
Black raspberry
3/19/2009
2
Nearer gully than BR53, mixed in with sumac

By the beginning of 2010 we had fairly good control of brambles except for red raspberry, which forms really dense patches of brambles with stems growing very close together. The cut-and -treat method is not recommended because the cut stems are so close together and it is difficult to keep track of which ones had been treated. Fortunately, most of the areas where we were cutting and treating did not have red raspberries.

After almost ten years working on bramble control, I found that the best way to control red raspberry is to spray (with 3.5% aqueous Garlon 3A) all the resprouts that arise after burns. However, not all shoots come up at the same time, so it is necessary to spray again two weeks after the first time, and again after another two weeks. Monitoring again in mid-summer for any “escapes”, and again the next year is also advisable.

The importance of annual burns
One of the most important reasons why annual burns should be done in oak savannas is because of brambles. Putting savannas on a three-year burn cycle, such as is often done for prairies, is exceedingly ill advised. Savannas almost always have a “legacy” of woody invasives, of which brambles are one of the most important. Giving woody vegetation the chance to grow unimpeded for three years does serious damage to the herbaceous understory. In addition, the savanna will not carry a fire well with all those woody shrubs hogging the savanna floor.

We have been burning our savannas annually for 15 years (since 2002).

The best time to search for undesirable woody plants is after a burn. This photo, of the Unit 10 savanna, was taken on March 28, 2017 (the spring burn had been done on Feb 22, 2017). Note the absence of woody vegetation (except for the blow-downs). You could walk from one end of this savanna to the other without encountering a single obstacle. Compare with the 2008 photo shown above.

Bur oak savanna after 15 annual burns
Note the absence of woody invasives