Tom's Blog

Friday, March 28, 2014

Brush-free oak savanna due to cutting and annual burns

Just now, before our savanna burns begin, is a good time to observe the results of long-term restoration work. The photo shows how clear and clean our White Oak Savanna (Unit 12B) looks. We started brush removal here in January 1999, and burns began the same spring.

White Oak Savanna looking southeast
When restoration began, the brush was so dense (mostly prickly ash and honeysuckle) that you could not see one tree from  another. Cutting and burning cleared it out, but it was essential to return every two or three years and remove root suckers and new growth from seedlings. Sumac was also a problem, and eradication of this pest required persistent herbicide treatment of all clones..

Now it is almost impossible, even with a careful survey, to find any trace of invasive brush.

It was in this area that our first purple milkweed, a State endangered species, arose. Later other populations arose nearby, and in other parts of the Conservancy.

Oak savanna experts recommend annual burns for at least 10 years after restoration is started. Fortunately, the area shown in this photo burns well, so that there has been no difficulty in following this procedure. Note the nice carpet of oak leaves, which are the principal fuel for a savanna burn.

Walking through this area now is a joy!


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March 30, 2014 at 11:01 PM  

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