As winter approaches, it can be easy to imagine that Belwin will be entering a slow period. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Keeping Belwin’s restored land healthy is a year-round endeavor, with different tasks appropriate for each time of year.
With plants going dormant at a staggered pace, fall is the perfect time to target invasive species. As Justin Sykora, Operations Director puts it, “You can selectively remove one plant species without harming another.” Fall is also an ideal time to collect seeds, a project which Lynette Anderson, Interpretive Naturalist/Restoration Specialist, spearheads with a group of knowledgeable volunteers.
With the woodlands dormant, winter is the ideal time to remove diseased trees. The threat of spreading disease is minimal and, since the ground is frozen, cleared trees can be dragged without disturbing soil. This coming winter, Belwin staff will be focusing on clearing buckthorn and other invasives from Valley Creek Bluff.
Springtime at Belwin means one thing: burn season. Prairie ecosystems are naturally fire dependent and, in the absence of naturally occurring fires, Belwin conducts controlled burns to maintain healthy prairie habitats throughout the year, but especially in the
spring. This leads to healthier prairies year-round.
And what about summer? “Summer is everything else,” Sykora says. “It’s really all hands on deck.” Work includes pulling invasives as well as herbicide treatment to interrupt seed production. Summer seasonal staff (pictured here) are a great help this time of year, assisting with all aspects of restoration.
“There aren’t slow times at Belwin,” says Sykora, “Just different times.” Each season means a new phase of life and a new phase of restoration for the land. Today, we’ll take you through an average year of land restoration at Belwin.