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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    <b that we know and appreciate as joggers, skiers, wildlife watchers, or recreationalists of another sort is changing. Natural succession and helpful management by Arb staff will greatly alter the appearance of the landscapes that we have become familiar with. Don’t worry though, by the end of spring term, the Arb will look basically the same as it did before the snow. But what will the Arb look like in 50 years? 100 years?

    Arb director Nancy Braker has set out to define the future desired condition of the Arb on a large scale and how that condition may be achieved.  Here are some ways that the Arb landscape may change over the long term.

    The floodplain forest along the river will convert naturally from the box elder and green ash that are common now to a forest dominated by silver maple, basswood, and cottonwood. With a little help from Arb management, the undergrowth of the forest will be rid of buckthorn, which is crucial to allowing succession to occur naturally.

    Upland forests will cover much of the NE corner of the Arb. Some areas that are blanketed with weeds and low-quality grasses today have been planted with upland forest species; many areas that we currently see as ‘grasslands’ will be covered with oak, walnut, and hickory. This conversion will take the better part of 100 years. The upland forests will take a bit longer to reach maturity than the floodplain forests, because upland forest plantings have been more recent.

    Restored prairies are one of the Arb’s most important resources, and because the maturation of many prairie plants occurs in 10 to 15 years, the current prairie landscape will not be as visibly changed as the Arb’s slowly maturing forests. However, the prairies will continue to change for many years as the composition of the restorations approach that of native prairies. The size of the Arb’s prairies will also increase as some of the farmland adjacent to the prairies comes out of cultivation. The edges of the prairie will be bordered by oak savanna, a historically important ecosystem in this area.
    The documents outlining the vision for the Arb are still in development, but look for opportunities to meet with Arb staff in coming months as we seek student input on the future of the Arb.

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