Nature Preserve restoration project continues
To support biodiversity at the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, invasive shrubs including bush honeysuckle, autumn olive and privet, are being removed using a combination of cutting and herbicide application.
The work is an ongoing effort, but the first phase includes removing invasive plants along Augsburger Road near the entrance of the preserve.
“These invasive shrubs form dense stands which exclude native plants and the wildlife that depend upon them,” said Jacob Buchanan, M'Della Moon Professor of Botany and Environmental Science. “By removing these invasive species, we can increase the diversity of the understory and provide resources for birds, small mammals and insects like bees, butterflies and moths.”
On the west side of the entrance lane, the Oak Woodland is being restored. After removal, the area will feature widely spaced oaks with an open, park-like understory. Several species of oak are already growing in the area and removing invasive shrubs will allow oak trees to thrive.
A second restoration effort is taking place in the East Woods area of the preserve. This mature forest has a high diversity of native plans and large, mature trees including oak, hickory, maple and beech. While this area is rich with native species, invasive shrubs have begun to encroach on the forest. To conserve the existing habitat, invasive shrubs will be removed to prevent further damage. Over the next 100 to 200 years, natural forest succession will allow the oak-hickory dominated forest to transition to a beech-maple forest, which is characteristic of historic forests in northwest Ohio.
Habitat maintenance and management work is grant and donor funded including a $25,000 grant from Cenovus Energy. Current efforts will continue for the next two to three years and gifts and volunteer support are appreciated.
Located at the northwest edge of campus, the Bluffton University Nature Preserve is home to 160 acres of woodland and grassland trails, a riverine ecosystem and a small, lake, wildlife habitat.
More information about the habitat restoration project can be found at gagb9w.francescobaglioni.net/habitat-restoration. To support the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, contact Bluffton University’s advancement team at 419-358-3362.