Tom's Blog

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good time for major buckthorn control work

Now that seed collecting is over, work turns to brush control. November is an ideal time, since all the living vegetation has senesced and the ground is still snowless. Our focus is mainly on the North Woods, which unfortunately needs a lot of work.

When we began restoration work in the early 1990s, we focused on the high quality areas of the Conservancy, such as the prairie and savanna remnants. Clearing, burning, and overseeding were the principal tasks, and the habitat responded in dramatic fashion.

The north woods is primarily an oak woodland. Most of the oaks are Quercus rubra, with scattered white, bur, black, and Hill's oaks. A few large walnuts still remain, and there are scattered areas of birch.

Analysis of the 1937 air photo showed that most of the north side was unlogged, although there were a few logged areas at the east end, as well as near the quarry road on the west side. Follow this link to the 1937 air photo on our web site.

Through the years we have done some restoration work in the north woods when time permitted. Most of our work was on the road cut along County F, because that was an excellent seed source for our savanna restoration work. However in January 2006 we hired a six-person crew to basal bark all the undesirable shrubs in this 25 acre site, principally buckthorn and honeysuckle. Although this was fairly successful, some areas were inevitably missed, and we did not have enough time to tackle the inevitable resprouts.

We used a LIP grant in 2011 to work on a major area of buckthorn in the NE corner of the site that the 2006 crew had not tackled. This area was seen as cleared in the 1937 air photo, and was thus an ideal area for establishment of invasive brush.

In 2013-2014 our focus is on a rather large buckthorn area at the top of the hill. Understandably, the invasive brush is best established around the edges of the woods. Our access here is from the North Fire Break, which Kathie has been keeping open all summer with the Kubota tractor. The Kawasaki Mules are ideal for getting into the site with brush cutters and chain saws.

Many of the larger buckthorn are dead, the result of the 2006 work, but there are lots of smaller ones. Also, the site we are working in is on dolomite and there an entrance to at least one cave, which of course attracts woodchucks, etc. Between the animals and the birds, a lot of invasive shrubs get established. (There is even a smallish patch of garlic mustard!). Work here is at least a two-person job, one cutting, the other building brush piles and treating.

Cutting buckthorn. The photo does not show how steep the terrain is here.

We are hoping for a light snow year so that we can work all winter!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home