Three thousand oak saplings will go into the ground this Arbor Day, with the help of our volunteers and Bailey Nurseries.
On Arbor Day, April 24, more than 200 volunteers will come out to plant 3,000 young oak trees in South Washington Conservation Corridor, grown from acorns our volunteers collected in the area; nurtured over 18 months by our longterm partner Bailey Nurseries. The event is part of a multi-year restoration effort that, along with volunteer events, has included innovative restoration practices and research.
Creating a Healthy Place for Future Generations
Great River Greening has been working in the South Washington Conservation Corridor (SWCC) since 2010 to restore 80 acres of natural greenway and public open space on the border of Woodbury and Cottage Grove. Restoring former farmland to prairie, with shading oaks, native grasses, and flowers, takes many hands and years. The benefit is plenty; restored basins deeply enhance the land by providing critical native habitat and improving water quality by controlling storm water runoff.
South Washington Watershed District supports Great River Greening integrating research opportunities into our restoration work. At SWCC, studying the effects of biomass harvesting is integral to the management plan. It is a practice Great River Greening Ecologist Steve Thomforde says will decrease nitrogen, and increase plant and pollinator diversity. In 2013, volunteers cast 120 different species of spring flowers and grasses, like prairie hay, to be mowed later for animal feed. In partnership with Xerces Society, we will compare these areas with control areas left as is and document the results.
“Haying was done for thousands of years,” said Thomforde. “It meets agriculture and environmental objectives, in that it is a highly efficient way to remove nitrogen from the soil, and it provides food for cattle. But, it isn’t practiced much now. We hope the work we are doing here will encourage more people to adopt it.”
Not Far From the Tree…..
Fall 2013 was a bumper crop year for acorns in the Metro Area. Great River Greening volunteers mined areas under oak trees throughout South Washington County, collecting the seeds that would grow best in their native climate. The saplings were grown at Bailey Nurseries, a longtime supporter of our work. Oak savanna is optimal for wildlife, including butterflies and other pollinators. The SWCC project is made possible with support from the South Washington Watershed District and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.