Easter Lake Southwest Shore Woodland Restoration

Easter Lake Southwest Shore Woodland Restoration Project 2023 - 2025

Polk County Conservation plans to implement timber stand improvement (TSI) on 41 acres of hardwood timber on the south shore of Easter Lake. This area is overgrown with multiple invasive species (Honeysuckle, Asiatic bittersweet, and garlic mustard) and may begin losing biodiversity if left unattended. The 2-year project will consist of a combination of mowing, spraying, grazing, and prescribed fire.

 The objectives of this practice include:
• Restoration of woodland to historic oak-hickory component by removal of invasive (honeysuckle, multiflora rose, autumn olive, etc.) and less desirable, shade-tolerant native species (elm, ash, hackberry, etc.)
• Improved infiltration of storm water due to increased herbaceous understory
• Reduction in nutrient loading into the lake via infiltration and soil processes
• Improvement in wildlife habitat and subsequent increases in wildlife use and opportunities for public to view wildlife
• Improvement in aesthetic properties and opportunities for public use of the woodland (wildflower viewing, mushroom hunting, etc.)
• Opportunities for public education – sustainable landscaping, etc.

This project will include several practices to restore this woodland including removal of invasive species, modified crop tree release, and prescribed fire. This restoration plan supports the Easter Lake Watershed Management Plan in that it will help improve water quality by increasing the amount of desirable herbaceous vegetation, which will increase water infiltration, reduce runoff, and remove excess nutrients from the watershed. In addition, the aesthetic and educational value of this restoration will help reconnect residents and visitors to the natural amenities of Easter Lake and its surroundings.

Stay tuned for real-time updates as this project begins and progresses!

Tentative Project Timeline

  • Winter 2022 - Spring 2023
    • Forestry mow invasive and undesirable species under 6" dbh.
    • Spray stumps immediately post mowing.
  • Spring 2022 - Summer 2022
    • Utilize goats by "Goats on the Go" to graze resprouts.
  • Winter 2023 - Spring 2024

    • Hand removal of invasive species not mowed
    • Begin crop tree release based on stand prescription.

  • Summer 2024

    • Mow and/or spray resprouts

  • Winter 2024 - Spring 2025

    • Continue crop tree release.
    • Prescribed burn of project site (conditions permitting).

Fall 2020
South Shore Timber Stand: Before Woodland Restoration

This 43.6-acre area is overgrown with multiple invasive species such as honeysuckle, oriental bittersweet, green briar, and garlic mustard. The dense thicket of invasives reduces the quality of wildlife habitat and prevents sunlight from reaching the forest floor to invigorate a healthy understory. This results in a forest floor with bare soils that are easily washed away into nearby Easter Lake during rain events.

Winter 2020-Summer 2021
Winter 2020 - Summer 2021
Forest Mowing and Stump Spraying

During the first winter of the project, a forester mower cut down invasive & undesirable species in targeted areas that were under 6" diameter at breast height. Stumps were then immediately sprayed with an herbicide. The following summer, a second mowing was conducted to cut down any resprouts followed by another herbicide spray on stumps.

Manual Removal, Mow and Spray
Fall 2021- Winter 2021
Man and Machine Working Together to Tackle The Thicket of Resprouts

Polk County Conservation and staff united manually to tackle the last of the invasives in hard-to-reach areas and areas of regrowth. It took a combination of saws, loppers, a lawn mower and mulcher to get the job done! If you would like to be involved in future woodland restoration opportunities, check out our EVENTS page for upcoming volunteer dates!

Picturesque Progress
Spring 2022
First Spring of Regrowth After Invasives Removal

The spring of 2022 boasted stunning rewards for all the effort PCC Staff and volunteers invested into this 43.6-acre site. Reducing invasives in this area allowed for gallery of beautiful spring ephemerals to be enjoyed along Easter Lake's woodland trails. Phlox, Turtlehead, Virginia Spring Beauty, and Burr Oak seedlings carpet the forest floor. Check back in next spring to see what new flowers we find growing!

Tune in soon!
Winter 2022
Prescribed Forest Fire and Crop Tree Release

In order to maintain control of invasive species and less-desirable shade-tolerant tree species, a prescribed fire will be employed at regular intervals to promote the recycling of nutrients bound up in leaf material while also. Increasing soil temperature due to removal of shading and blackening of soil surface; this favors woodland wildflowers/spring ephemerals to germinate and emerge. Removal of down dead wood will also allow easier access for future management, however PCC will leave a sufficient amount of dead wood to preserve the diversity that depends on its existence (insects, fungus, etc.).

Limitations on burning due to the sites urban location may necessitate the use of alternative to prescribed burning such as grazing and/or mowing.

Check Back In to See the Final Product!
Winter 2023
South Shore Timber Stand After: Regrowth of a Healthy Forest Understory



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