Managing restored habitat to ensure it remains beneficial to wildlife
Once wildlife habitat has been constructed, a great deal of effort must be expended to keep it functioning properly for the species of concern. This is particularly true in the case of meadows as they all want to grow up to be forests one day! It seems that newly created wetlands are very susceptible to being colonized by phragmites, as well. A variety of techniques are regularly used by CWH staff to keep meadows, wetlands and scrub-shrub areas in an early successional state. These include: spot spraying, discing, controlled burning, hand cutting, frilling, frost seeding, delayed drawdown, and carefully timed dormant-season mowing (December–March). We take special precautions to protect nesting and brooding wildlife during the spring and summer.
One highly used technique is spot spraying the trees and shrubs out of meadows. Why don’t we mow them instead? Mowing can be highly injurious/deadly to ground-dwelling wildlife (brooding birds, too) and mowing DOES NOT kill trees or shrubs. Late summer/fall is the best time to spot spray trees and then a spot mowing in March of the following year (before wildlife get too active) cleans the meadow up of standing dead woody plants .
In wetlands we spend much of our time killing phragmites and cattails. We want a good patchy mix of cattails and other wetland plants for food and cover but do not want a monoculture of them or phragmites.
A lot of summer and fall CWH field-staff time was spent managing and maintaining wildlife habitat on CWH and client properties. It is often hot work, but the positive results for the wildlife resource are well worth the effort.