Easter Lake Southeast Woodland Restoration

Easter Lake W00dland and Shoreline Restoration 2015 - 2016

The presence of invasive species within the woodland areas of the Easter Lake Watershed has caused the contribution of abnormal amounts of sediment into Easter Lake. The 891 acres of woodland within the watershed are estimated to contribute 36 tons of sediment and 125 pounds of phosphorus each year into Easter Lake decreasing water quality.

Polk County Conservation (PCC) aims to reduce the invasive plants, increase the herbaceous understory, and return the woodland to a more desirable species focusing on oak and walnut in the higher ground but leaving cottonwood, silver maple and willow along the lake and the riparian drainages that occupy the site.

This Polk County Conservation, 32.2-acre restoration project, will use a multi-pronged approach in the removal of invasive plants. PCC staff and volunteers will start initial clearing of sites by manually removing invasives in targeted areas. Use of a forestry mower will then be used to remove larger plant material and allow partial access to the site. A second pass will be made with a brush cat mower to further process the debris and allow for chemical treatment of vines and other woody plants in areas inaccessible by machine. Finally, fire will be introduced as a management tool.

Point Of Contact:

Cassie Cook cook@polkcountyiowa.gov & Amanda Brown amanda.brown@polkcountyiowa.gov

Fall 2015
Southeast Shore Timber Stand: Before Woodland Restoration

These photos showcase the prolific understory growth of invasives within the target woodland areas of Easter Lake. These invasives choke out our desirable natives by blocking out sunlight and outcompeting for resources. Easter Lake's understory is especially overgrown with Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). This species of invasive is allelopathic, sending chemicals into the surrounding soils that prevent the growth of other herbaceous species. This results to an understory with bare and exposed soils that are easily washed away and eroded during storm events.

Manual Removal & Spraying
Manual Removal of Invasives by PCC staff and Volunteers

Over the course of a season, Polk County Conservation staff and volunteers teamed up to remove invasives such as Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) and Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) from hard-to-reach areas that a forest mower cannot access.

Forest Mowing
Fall 2016
A Forest Mower is Used on Large Areas of Forest Understory

Polk County Conservation and Iowa DNR joined together to conduct timber stand improvement (TSI) on 43.6 acres of hardwood timber on the south shore of Easter Lake. The results of this restoration project include increased infiltration, reduced nutrient and sediment load into the lake and improved habitat for wildlife and viewing trails. (Read more...)

After Forest Mowing
Fall 2016
Forest Understory After Mowing Invasives

Clearing the understory of invasives allows needed sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor and invigorate the regrowth of a desirable native understory, resulting in improved infiltration, reduced nutrient and sediment load into Easter Lake and quality wildlife habitat.

Restored Woodland
Spring 2017
Southeast Shore Timber Stand: After Regrowth of a Healthy Forest Understory

These photos are the areas cleared of invasives the season before. These restored areas now receive sunlight that is able to reach the forest floor. Already in its first year, woodland flowers can be seen emerging from a long-dormant seedbed!



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