Posted by: tysonrc | February 9, 2010

Time to cut some cedars

Now that we have the deer exclosure project wrapped up, we are moving on to a new project.  It’s a fun one too!  nothing warms a cold, winters day like killing some cedar.  Ahhh…just let your mind drift to the first time you cut down a cedar tree…..remember the way the rest of the woodland seemed grateful for getting rid of that pest?     

look confident don't they?


Cedar trees actually can be beautiful, graceful trees.  They can grow out of a bluff face for a thousand years, have twisty, gnarly stems and just a small tuft of green foliage on the end.  Those cedars are good cedars.  The cedars that are bad are the straight ones, growing out of soil and appearing full and healthy.  Can you believe the audacity of them?!?     

Even a child can take them down!


 Red cedar have been able to move into historically cedar free zones because fire has been suppressed.  No big surprise, but cedars are highly flammable, close to explosive really.  We have all seen those old fields that have been neglected and turn into one big block of cedar trees; or been driving down the road and come to a vista and can see a large block of cedar right in the middle of the woods.  Those are the bad cedars.  Fire would generally keep cedars growing only in areas that fire couldn’t get to.     



 The Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) does not much care for water, so that leaves rock.  The trees have the ability to creep right into a boulder or a bluff face and hold tight.  They need very little water to survive and go dormant for years on end if the weather isn’t right.    

Since cedars are so strong and can grow under the worst of conditions, they can also grow really well and really fast under decent conditions and with a little soil.  Suppress fire and walk away and you end up with our current situation of thousands of small glades and savannah sites all over Missouri socked in with cedar trees and very little else.    

This brings us to our next project of clearing one of these small sites in the neighboring land of West Tyson County Park, owned and operated by St. Louis County.  This site is a 2.5 acre area that is heavily cedar infested.  We have started clearing the area and will be done by spring.  It will take several years for the site to start to fill back in with desirable native vegetation and we will re-institute a prescribed fire schedule for this little plot to try to keep the cedars and other invasives at bay.  This is not a site that we will use for research though, it is mainly a gift to our neighbors that we were able to do with a generous grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation.     

Greensfelder glade and savannah


We conduct research in this park as well as many other county parks, so this is really a way to say thank you to both the county and to the citizens that frequent these parks.  The county park system only has one other restored glade/savannah site and it is a beautiful little gem in Greensfelder County Park.  Once we are done with the restoration work, we will step back and let dormant seeds and stunted tiny plants re-emerge to take over.  We are not going to be adding seeds unless it is deemed necessary by a lack of diverse, native re-emergence.     

Love Ryberg practices habitat restoration


As you can see from the photos, we begin training the kids early in the ways of habitat restoration!   Just kidding, she’s getting a christmas tree off a glade in central Missouri, but that’s another great reason to take out a cedar!   

–Travis Mohrman


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