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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Arb Notes Returns

<ves change color and wither and walking to class in the morning means putting on a hat and mittens, planting is not the first thing that comes to mind. But in the Arb, fall is the time for planting. Next week in the Lower Arb, 15 acres of future forest (the 2007 field) and the 2008 prairie planting will be directly seeded.

The forest planting will be in an old agricultural field in the northwest corner of the Lower Arb adjoining Canada Ave. Most of this future forest was taken out of agricultural production a few years ago and part of the planting was farmed until this fall. There will be a direct seeding to the northern 15 acres with red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus alba), black walnut (Juglans nigra), black cherry (Prunus serotina), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), and hickory (Carya ovata) seeds. The southern 15 acres of the field will be successional forest – there will not be a direct seeding and colonization of the area will be dependent upon natural seed dispersal. Gray (Sciurus carolinensis) and red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) cache walnuts and red oak acorns in the autumn and forgotten seeds can germinate. Birds, such as blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) and other frugivores, deposit cherry pits in scat and regurgitation. Also, wind transported seeds such as box elder (Acer negundo), elm (Ulmus spp.), and aspen (Populus tremuloides) will be blown into the field.

Summer Arb crews have spent time in this area removing female box elders, a native species, and Siberian elms (Ulmus pumila), a non-native invasive to prevent these seeds from entering the new field. Box elders grow well in moist areas and are a species well adapted to colonizing disturbed areas exposed to light. The female trees are removed to prevent box elders from being the dominant tree present for the first several decades in this forest patch. Invariably, box elders will colonize the 2007 field along with Siberian elm, buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) as can be seen in the 1993 field. When this direct seeding matures and the successional forest begins to fill in, this area of the Arb will become contiguous forest. Immediately surrounding the 2007 forest are the 1993 planting, 1998 planting, and the 1992 and 2001 successional forests. These areas connect to the 1991 successional forest, Best Woods, the pine plantations, and the floodplain along the Cannon. The gradation of forest in the northwest corner of the Lower Arb and prairie in the southern portion is already apparent and will only become stronger as the restored fields mature.

The other large planting that will be undertaken next week is the 2008 prairie planting. (The first growing season is 2008, hence the name). This beautiful field is located north of the 2007 prairie and bordered by Kettle Hole Marsh to the North and cornfields to the West. This will be the largest prairie planting in the history of the Arb at about 21-22 acres. Seeds for this planting were collected from the Arb’s restored prairies and McKnight Prairie by this year’s summer and fall Arb crew. There will be about 60 different prairie species included in this planting. The 2008 field includes a small catchment that drains into Kettle Hole. This low-lying area will be hand planted with wet-specialist prairie species that Myles Bakke has collected from various local sites.

This planting will be the last large prairie planting in the Lower Arb in the near future. Next year, there will be prairie plantings in the restored oak savannahs of the Lower Arb, and there may be some prairie plantings in the Upper Arb. Restoration efforts will continue to maintain the existing prairies through controlled burns, removal of invasives, and continued planting of specialist and rare species into existing fields. The restored prairies of the Lower Arb stretch from Hillside Prairie to the oak savannah by Kettle Hole to Highway 19 and the agricultural fields in the southwest corner of the Arb. This prairie planting is the culmination of prairie restoration efforts undertaken by Mark McKone and Myles Bakke. It will be exciting to watch this field grow since it may be one of the more beautiful sections of prairie in the Arb.

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