Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Step 1 of a Woodlot Restoration

Ash logs -- ravaged by emerald ash borer and now destined to be repurposed (after being kiln treated) by the Amish.

It may seem strange to start a conversation on marsh restoration and conservation with an image of a new, nearly clear-cut woodlot, but this is restoration in action. While <5% of the total property is currently wooded, we have been focusing a good deal of attention this last week or so on a ~6-acre area that was decimated by the emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle from Asia that is reeking havoc on ash trees throughout much of the U.S. and eastern Canada. Because Detroit, MI is thought to have been the epicenter of this invasive species' infestation (in 2002), northern Ohio was in the crosshairs early.

We estimate that this isolated woodlot had 200-250 trees that were 12" in diameter (DBH) or larger prior to the borer infestation. Of these, the vast majority (unfortunately) were ash. Literally every single ash tree in the area is dead, and most have been dead for five years or more based on the level of decay (note bark falling off trunk wood). Unfortunately, once the canopy is significantly thinned, an ecosystem like this is often further stressed by the proliferation of another invasive species -- bush honeysuckle. (More on that later.)

You may notice that the isolated trees left standing in the photo have pink flagging tape on them. These markers showed our contractor the ~70 trees that we were able to salvage. Most of the trees spared are hackberry and locust, but we also have a handful of nice oaks, maples, and even elms.

The understory (mostly made up of nasty honeysuckle) is being completely scraped in preparation for a replanting. We are working in conjunction with the Ohio DNR (Division of Forestry) and the USDA/NRCS through a program called EQIP such that by the spring of 2018, we will have 1,100 new trees growing. It will take some time and a good amount of effort, but eventually, we'll have a healthy canopy of desirable trees supporting a much more diverse ecosystem.