Land Management has been on the move this year, doing important work on several ACRES preserves. Here are some notes from the field regarding their progress at Walter H. and E. Marie Myers Nature Preserve, Pehkokia Woods and James P. Covell Nature Preserve. Many thanks to member and donor support for making these projects possible, as well as the helping hands during preserve work days!

Walter H. and E. Marie Myers Nature Preserve on Flowers Creek | Miami County

native wild rye grass

ACRES is hauling dead, fallen, non-native invasive Ailanthus (“Tree of Heaven”) out of this preserve, making room for native plants. Funding to fight the Ailanthus comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Then—a first for ACRES—we’ll prepare for a future reforestation by establishing a shallow-rooted cover in the tree planting. Over winter, we’ll frost-seed 80 acres of field with a native wild rye grass from a local genotype harvested within 100 miles of the nature preserve. We’re planting the rye to suppress weeds to prepare for a native hardwood tree planting.

Pehkokia Woods | Mitigation Update | Huntington County

By summer’s end, mitigation crews had completed earth work here, restoring more natural drainage, adding gradual sloping banks to a constructed pond, and moving the parking area closer to the road. (You can see this in the featured image at the top of the blog.)

In time, the mitigation team will plant a number of 6- to 7-foot tall trees here in Pehkokia Woods. For cost-efficiency on our larger-scale tree plantings, ACRES typically plants seedlings no bigger than small twigs.

For our general reforestation purposes, we don’t need each plant to thrive, just the majority. However, because of the Pehkokia Woods project’s specific mitigation funding source, it has distinct criteria for success. Thus, they’re planting these larger, more expensive trees because they have a higher success rate. Once planted in large trees, this reforestation will look quite different from other ACRES restoration projects in their initial years. You can enjoy the transformation of Pehkokia Woods by visiting it in all seasons.

James P. Covell Nature Preserve | DeKalb County

When ACRES acquired this preserve south of Auburn, about 40 of its 96 acres were in corn and soybean production. This spring, look for ACRES to reforest the northernmost 17-acre field, along County Road 427 (most recently planted in soybeans), in native hardwoods. Funding for these trees comes through the Wetlands Reserve Program via the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).