Tom's Blog

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Late fall bur oak savanna

After a series of rainy days a high pressure came in, leading to a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon. Kathie, Emily, and I took the Mule to the top of the ridge and enjoyed a walk through the bur oak savanna. The photo shows the top of the gully and the area just below the South Fire Break.

November 2013: The ridge-top bur oak savanna just below the South Fire Break.
Handsome trees and well established Indian grass.
The savanna is now open enough so that Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) has become well established. When we first started restoration work in 1998 the area between the trees was a buckthorn thicket and only the lower part of the hillside had any prairie plant components. Removal of buckthorn and other brush followed by burns started the restoration process but it took over 10 years for the Indian grass and prairie forbs to become well established. Due to the increased light, brambles moved in and had to be dealt with. Even now (see photo below), in the late spring woody vegetation resprouts must be herbicided.

April 2012: Susan and Amanda seeking out and destroying undesirable herbaceous and woody vegetation.
Most of the green is golden Alexanders (Zizia aureus), 
It was at least 10 years before this area carried a fire well. Now it burns almost too well and we have to backburn it down from the South Fire Break.


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