Monday, December 2, 2013

Metropolitan Ecological Restoration

Metropolitan Potential

Our metropolitans are home to 79% of America's population. The concentration has pros and cons relating to the environment, but one pro is the available manpower for restoration projects within our  invasive plant infested metro-areas. Throughout the midwest it is typical that a mixture of invasive trees and shrubs dominate disturbed natural areas within the metropolitans. Disturbed natural areas could mean a second growth forest, broken canopy woodlands, wetland or naturally vegetated wet areas, unmaintained land that was clear cut then "let go", or degraded prairies that have been plowed and/or grazed. Basically any un-developed area within the metropolitan where native plants and invasive plants do battle to reclaim land, including nature preserves, city, county, state, and national parks. These remaining fragments of nature are key to the surviving biodiversity existing from downtowns to the suburban outskirts. Metropolitan Ecological Restoration applies ecological restoration practices to natural areas within metropolitans for environmental education opportunity, public health benefits, environmental health, and potential economic opportunity.

Environmental Education/Awareness

As environmental education is worked further into k-12 curriculum through organizations like "Hamilton County Soil & Water", non-profits and their local chapters like "Leave No Child Inside", the "Children and Nature Network" and "ALI", our youth can grow more and more aware of the effects of our mass development on ecology. Education from the bottom up also occurs when focusing on the youth, as parents are often introduced and find good value/meaning in participating in the environmental cause. In this time in which our metropolitan natural areas are most invaded and degraded, our youth are spending and average of 53 hours per week plugged into entertainment media negatively widening the awareness gap. With 79% of the total population located in metropolitans, what percentage of our youth distracted by modern technology based entertainment, will have the opportunity to experience the beauty and intricacies of a healthy ecosystem locally? Further raising of awareness in the public of the presence and effect of invasive plants is also happening through park systems who give conservation a priority, organizing/hosting volunteer events and making efforts for educational outreach. 

Higher education, with standout professors like Dr.Crail of the University of Toledo, also play a valuable role in nurturing the awareness within metropolitans of the problems and solutions concerning our local ecosystems (pictured above) by giving college students direct experience in restoration projects. "Tell me, I will forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I will understand" a Chinese proverb Dr. Crail is demonstrating. In the first pictured scene students of Dr.Crail's course removed buckthorn, an invasive shrub, from the understory and wood edges of Irwin Prairie State Nature preserve. Projects like these not only quickly benefit local ecosystems, but they also plant the seeds of experience and awareness within students who may have never known their local ecosystem was under such an alarming foreign plant threat. For a student like I was at Cincinnati State starting out in environmental science trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career, an experience like this would have been profound and potentially opened me up to the field I have circuitously grown a great passion for, being ecological restoration.

Religious organizations also have potential to make a great positive impact of raising awareness about ecological restoration amongst other environmental issues, by ways of organizing task force oriented groups like the Marianist Environmental Education Center locally, and nationally the Evangelical Environmental Network and the Catholic Climate Covenant. These groups have high credibility within their respective communities and therefore have large circles of influence within this predominantly Christian nation.

We have many times more than needed, of man power to reclaim our metropolitan ecosystems from invasive plants, what we need more of is experiential education and collaboration/organization to nurture the widespread awareness required to truly "bring nature home" as Entomologist Doug Tallamy would say.

(Invasive Buckthorn, Multi-Flora Rose, and Honeysuckle dominate understories and wood edges)

Niches for the Taking (The Metropolitan Battleground)

Understory Niche

Now that at least the first rounds of mass logging projects have been mostly completed, we've seen maturing second and young third regrowths of forests throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States. Most of our invasive shrubs and trees weren't dominant as these forest first started regrowing which allowed for natural establishment of fairly diverse second growth forests that are missing only a few climax canopy species due to foreign pathogens and insects transported by human activity. The future diversity of these forests is under great threat, due to proliferation of invasive shrubs that have been able to create near monocultures in the understory habitat. The light that penetrates these young woodlands is already limited, and with a thick understory of invasive shrubs already dominating that light, there often isn't enough light for tree sapling regeneration. Not only do these shrubs prevent and stunt forest regeneration long-term, they leaf out so early in the spring, that the beautifully diverse carpets of forest wildflowers that color the spring scenery of our forests, cannot not co-exist with the invasive shrubs. A large portion of plant diversity within the American temperate forest ecosystem exists in the understory within the herbacoues layer and woody understory species. Referring back to the opening picture of Dr.Crail's class removing the Buckthorn, this now allows for future restoration of that herbaceous layer of grasses and wildflowers, spaced out native shrub/small tree layer, and native tree canopy sapling populations to regenerate in the absence of the foreign buckthorn.

Wood Edge/Open Disturbed Land

Often the invasive shrubs and trees that exist in our understories, also dominate the edge of the woods and disturbed open environments such as areas adjacent to construction sites, abandoned land, un-mowed land, an/or public right aways. But there are also invasive species like Tree of Heaven, Siberian Elm, Mimosa, and Ornamental Pears that require the high light exposure of the wood edge/open environments to reproduce, and in those environments, they reproduce very aggressively. These species typically succeed the invasive vines and herbaceous plants that colonize the open ground first, displacing the natural succession process with indigenous plants ideal for ecological support. Loading up our maintained landscapes with Black Gum, Black Cherry, Shingle Oak, Pin Oak, Sassafras and other long distance transported native trees instead of the Ornamental Pears that are now littering open ground environments as quickly as European Starlings can consume them, will help re-arm the native plant communities to claim their successional roles back. But first we have to strategically identify our focus and goals of restoration within our metropolitans based on the current states of city, county, and state nature preserves along with non-profit's land and land trusts'. It helps to have a collaboration of passionate professionals, students, and citizens to aid you in your mission.....

(Green Umbrella is a “backbone organization” that helps all member organizations work better together to promote a more environmentally sustainable region for the OKI Region.)

Progress through Organizational Collaboration

In the above 3 minute video, you'll see how the Southwest Ohio/Northern Kentucky?Southeast Indiana metropolitan plans to move forward with a non-profit organization that organizes, sets agendas, executes, and connects all interested people throughout the spectrum of sustainability. It is set up with an array of action teams to cover each environmental issue thoroughly, made up of volunteers from those respective professions, industries, and interests. Each of these teams have their own agenda, with the same goal of making this region more sustainable.

The metropolitan reclamation concept would be applied in the Land Action Team. With organizational support, a pool of passionate citizens, students, and professionals; a structure exists to build through collaboration making sustainability-sustainable.  Organizations like Green Umbrella that bring in partners from all sectors of business, government partners, school districts, colleges and universities, amongst others for a common goal provide an incredibly effective blueprint for large scale environmental progress. Each metropolitan has these pieces, each metropolitan has the manpower, each metropolitan has the passionate people, and when a structure like Green Umbrella is created, each metropolitan can be effectively organized and empowered to reclaim not only their local ecology, but all facets of sustainability. Community Development Organizations and Councils can play a major role within local scale restoration/beautification with collaborative partnerships with these environmental collaboratives.  A city with 1,000 organized and commonly united people, is much more empowered than a city with 10,000 disconnected people regardless of their passion and agreeability.

(Studies have shown higher densities of Eastern Bluebirds within metropolitans where custom fitted bird boxes are maintained to replace the tree cavities they now lack in our disturbed landscape.)

Beyond Restoration

Reconciliation Ecology is the branch of ecology which studies ways to encourage biodiversity in human-dominated ecosystems (metropolitans). An easy to understand concept of this would be the recent widespread success of the Eastern Bluebird boxes as noted in the caption above. This concept still utilizes ecological restoration principles but fused with human landscape constraints. Another example would be what I through, Pioneer Landscapes, am basing my private sector career on, prairie/savannah land management. With over 40 million acres of lawn occupying land within America, in the large pool of non-recreationally used lawn we have an opportunity to manage developed land in better harmony with local ecosystems. A business that sits on a developed lot of 5 acres, maintaining 4 of those acres as lawn at potential detriment to the environment, can pursue maintaining that same acreage or much of it as a native prairie restoration or savannah with Hickory and Oak species planted within the prairie. This beautifies the landscape, puts in place a long term maintained native habitat, wildlife recreation infrastructure, and lowers local smog levels, storm water run-off, noise pollution, and water pollution creating the win-win as described in Michael L. Rosenzweig's Win-Win Ecology book. Green infrastructure like rain gardens, bio swales, and green roofs can also serve as a Win-Win when properly designed with native plants that support the local ecosystem. 

Traditional ecological restration is of highest priority in reference to our nature preserves and other protected land as these lands are the least disturbed and have the highest potential biodiversity value. Reconciliation ecology should not compete with those projects, but rather allow our more disturbed and developed lands to complement the overall region's ecological health. I've spoken on a lot of different topics and organizations, below is a compilation of links relevant to this blog's content.

Environmental Education Advocacy Groups

"ALI" Alliance for Leadership and Interconnection - Cincinnati Local                                                            

Religious Environmental Organizations

Catholic Climate Covenant       Facebook
Evangelical Environmental Network    Facebook
Marianist Environmental Education Center   Facebook

Books and Miscellaneous

Reconciliation Ecology
Richard Louv Author of Last Child in the Woods, and the Nature Principle
Doug Tallamy Author of Brining Nature Home
Green Umbrella  Greater Cincinnati's Regional Environmental Collaborative Facebook
Enright Cincinnati's Urban Ecovillage  Facebook

Friday, November 1, 2013

So What's the "Native Plant" Craze About?

 (Shagbark Hickory-Carya ovata supports 235 butterfly/moth species.)

What is a native plant?

A native plant can be described as a plant indigenous to a region before European settlement. Some botanists will say the plant is "native" if it naturally occurs or occurred within 100 miles, but I've also heard opinions that stretched as far as within 500 miles. For a more scientific definition refer to Bonap, you can find any indigenous North American Plant's native range. 

What is their significance?

The foundation of our ecosystems are native plants and the specific climatic/environmental conditions that shaped their beautiful, unique, and extremely complex communities. From the Redwoods in California, and the Everglades of Florida to the Bur Oak Savanna's of Ohio, each community supports a naturally sustaining network of organisms largely dependent on the organic infrastructure that these plants provide. 

P.S. Cultivars of native plants would not occur naturally in these communities with any normalcy, and contain different morphology than uncultivated native plants, potentially not fulfilling their ecological duties to the extent of their uncultivated counterparts.

What happened to these communities?

Ecologists estimate that 3-5% of American land is undisturbed, meaning never developed, logged, drained, tilled, or manipulated for human use. We've removed over 70% of our Eastern Forest community, and what is left, is now under constant threats of invasive plants we've brought over from other plant communities in foreign countries. Today all that is legally safe, is what is in preserves, land trusts, and parks, none of which are safe from invasive plant invasion without proactive measures. 

What's the effect of our mass development and disturbance? The natural extinction rate (worldwide) is about 1-5 species per year. As of now we are loosing species at 1,000-10,000 times that rate, loosing dozens of species per day. Biodiversity is a great loss, but hydrology changes, sediment pollution, carbon sink-loss, mass erosion-land degradation, amongst many other environmental issues are direct effects of our removal of these ancient plant communities. But there is still a future for us to mold into how we'd like continue forward. Let's talk first, more about the depth of the ecological state of emergency.

(Metropolitans and Agricultural lands in between have ecological consequences.)

The cost of our lifestyles

As previously stated, with only 3-5% of American land left undisturbed, of course extinction and endangerment of many plant and animal species will be a direct result of our monumental disturbance. In the East/Midwest, what we are left with are areas that are still undeveloped, unprotected fragmented forests that are undoubtedly highly susceptible to being sold for timber/logging, woodlots or "habitat islands" that serve little ecological value, and what we've protected legally in preserves/parks. Our agricultural land isn't going to decrease, if anything, as the countries' population and energy demands increase, it will also. Agricultural lands are highly sterile, and near lifeless outside of the crops we farm upon them. Our suburbs are now a large contributor to the 40+ million acres of land managed as lawn supporting very little wildlife. Just think about how far you must drive to find a truly high quality environment of over 1,000 acres in area, 50, 100, 250 miles? Personally as a Cincinnati resident I'd have to travel to west Versailles Indiana State Park, south to Red River Gorge, or east to the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserves.  And what's in between, sterilized agricultural land and small towns and cities that aren't managed for biodiversity. Our land demands, and land management practices have lead to the isolation and devastation of countless species, with our largest preserves remaining the last safe place for ecology to function as it had for millions of years on this continent. But even these preserves are under attack from our disturbance as invasive trees, shrubs, and vines that we've imported crowd the understories, drape the edges, and shoot through the canopy gaps changing the total structure of the plant community leading to biodiversity decline also.

Nature natural nevermore

There was a time in which nature was a self-sustaining/recycling/maintaing natural system. But we've disturbed it so drastically, and quickly, then introduced so many pathogens, foreign insects, and foreign plants that the reality is, for us to retain some remnant of the biodiversity that once was prevalent in this country, we must actively maintain our preserved natural areas. We've already lost the majority of multiple tree species from foreign pathogen and insects, Elms, Chestnuts, Hemlocks, Ash Trees, and Butternuts are all in danger of becoming extinct within the century, or ecologically irrelevant. Prairies are being invaded by non-native grasses and forbs, forests are failing to reforest in areas where canopy gaps are filled by honeysuckle, young forests are smothered by invasive vines like kudzu, wetlands are now susceptible to purple loostrife and non-native cattail monocultures. After all that we have done, nothing is safe, nothing can be left to it's "own devices" as we've imported devices in the form of invasive plants, pathogens, and insects from other countries. This is now a challenge, that will require education, dedication, innovation, and inspiration to retain and restore the biological heritage of this country. Even in this hour of species loss, continual land/environmental degradation, and great biodiversity threats, remains time and opportunity for our metropolitans to become leaders in giving ecosystems a helping hand.

(The Cincinnati-NKY Metropolitan is home to over 2 million people.)

The place is here, the time is now (Reconciliation Ecology)

79% of Americans now live in cities. Cities and their metropolitan areas are also the biggest sources of pollution and quite uninhabitable for some wildlife. But we do have a clear choice in the society we want to build within our cities. For biodiversity to return, we need native plants, the foundation of these ancient communities. Our natural areas or undeveloped areas within our metropolitans sport the heaviest concentrations of non-native invasive plants in comparison to any other human dominated community. These areas are most often private property, but often to public property, right aways, and even park systems. With 79% of our population living within cities, man power is not what is lacking. Awareness, organization, and environmental stewardship is what is lacking. So how do we raise awareness about native plants, biodiversity, and invasive plants? I'd like to look towards the future, and focus on where the children/stewards of tomorrow are, churches and schools. Where there is a lawn there is a way and replacing un-recreationally used lawn with prairie land management saving schools and churches on their maintenance costs while providing the children and their parents an environmental educational infrastructure for learning about native plants, biodiversity, and invasive plants, I believe is a model that can be replicated from metropolitan to metropolitan. My private sector business is focused on providing this opportunity to the youth and their respective organizations whether it be churches or schools. Empowering/educating the youth is just one of many steps that must be taken to create the awareness required to instill the environmental stewardship needed to give nature a second chance, but let's look at other pieces of the puzzle also.

Where there's a lawn there's a way

As I said before, America manages over 40 million acres as lawn, about half and half split between residential and commercial/industrial sectors. Lawn is useful for recreation and sports, pathways, and other functional purposes. The reality is though, many of our +.5 acre lots are never used to their recreation potential simply because it is not needed. Since we have been presented no clear alternatives, we often end up paying for multiple acres of lawn to be mowed per year just because our hospital, church, office park, or other place of work bought a lot that big. Lawn equipment alone accounts for 5% of U.S. annual carbon emission, it is one of the biggest sources of water pollution from fertilizer and pesticide run-off, and is not only the most irrigated plant in America compared to any agricultural crop, it is the largest single source of water use in the residential sector. The environmental ethics behind excess lawn is enough to call for change, but species extinction from ecosystem replacement I think is another urgent reason to rethink our land management practices. Ohio was at one point over 90% forest and less than 10% prairie/wetland. When you see acres of lawn that support very little wildlife, try to envision the incredible virgin forests long removed from the very land we now manage as lawn today. All of the organisms that once relied on these acres we now manage as lawn will not return as long as we continue our lawn land management ways. If we could approach organizations with excess lawn that is not used functionally, and slowly but surely give it back to nature successionally starting with prairie land management as trees slowly grow in to create a savannah or forest habitat, we can create a patchwork of habitats for wildlife throughout our throughly "lawned" metropolitans. Along with these habitats we create and maintain (less intensely than weekly lawn mowing), we now offer our children safe good quality natural environments to play in and explore as opposed to the currently invasive plant choked wood lots we now have studded throughout the cities. While nuturing today's remaining wildlife, we have another opportunity to nuture tomorrow's stewards by large scale implementation of habitat restoration within our metropolitans. Where there is a lawn, there is truly a way.

(Wild Ones, a national native plant advocacy organization with local chapters)

So what's the "Native Plant" Craze About?

Life, America, organisms, flora, fauna, beauty, ethics, natural history, monarchs and milkweeds, swallowtails and golden alexanders, blue jays and shingle oaks, prairie sod, trillium, cardinal flower and humming birds, limestone, dolomite, sandstone, shale, purple coneflowers and gold finches, clearwing hawk moths and bergamot, pawpaw festivals, sassafras, curiosity, big bluestem and indian grass, switchgrass and little bluestem, compass plants and prairie docks, native bees, honey bees, mason bees, cucko bees, saddle backs and black cherries, pileated woodpeckers, gray squirrels, black squirrels, fox squirrels, white squirrels, carbon sinks and biomass, diversity, maximillian sunflowers, butterfly migrations, host plants and food plants, oak trees and hickories, orchids, petting the bumble bees, baptisia in the spring, mound ants, wetlands, bogs and fens, blazing stars and rattlesnake masters, sycamores and cottonwoods, red winged blackbirds, Carolina chickadees, cup plants and rosinweed, sugar maple and beech trees, robins and dogwoods, redbuds and service berries, spice bush, acorns and walnuts, musclewood and hophornbeam, violets and fritillaries, wild turkey and red wings hawks, skunk cabbage and pink lady slippers, prairie dropseed, joe pye and tiger swallowtails, soldier beetles, river birches, sedges, rushes, silt, sand, clay, humus, viburnums, cedars and waxwings, conservation, restoration, sequestration, hemlocks, butternuts, elms, chestnuts, ash trees, stiff goldenrod, pollinators, caterpillars, beetles, wasps, virginia creeper, hazelnuts, grey headed coneflowers, trumpet vine, passionflower, basswood, blueberries, viceroys, stewardship and community. 

This movement has great purpose, much more than wildflower enthusiasm. We know our natural history, we know what what was here before our mass "development", we understand the continual regression of biodiversity and species extinction, we also see the large void in today's youth not knowing woods without honeysuckle, or native wildflowers on the wood edges.But these important messages are honestly not worth preaching to quire, so I urge you to connect, organize, and educate to help transform our metropolitans yard by yard, park by park, school by school, and lawn by lawn into the ecological haven we are capable of achieving.

Books for Inspiration

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's My Part? Edition #1 - Pollinator Benefitting at Home

Hello to new and old readers, I took the summer off of blogging to better manage my time, and I'd like to kick off the relaunch with a "What's my Part?" themed blog series focusing on what land owners of all walks of life can do in their yard or neighborhood to better their local environmental quality. I'll begin with homeowners but this series will touch on all different sectors of land ownership including industrial, commercial, schools, churches, parks....all while covering topics such as pollinator benefiting, habitat restoration, erosion control, chemical run-off reduction, storm water run-off reduction, carbon footprint reduction and more. Let's begin with the popular topic of pollinator support from a homeowner's perspective.

(Ratibida pinnata-Grey headed coneflower supporting a small short tongued pollinator)

When wanting to help out the incredibly complex world of ecology, to make the biggest contribution we must be vigilant in our research, observations, and implementation. Pollinators are insects, mammals, and birds that are searching for pollen, nectar, or even other insects to consume, and by natural design of the flower they pollinate inadvertently. Know that when planting for butterflies and/or bees, you will also be attracting all of the other native and non-native pollinators that are compatible with the flower types you plant, and they will openly compete for the resource you have provided them with. Flower quantity and diversity is important for this reason amongst others because when you have a high quantity and diverse selection of types of flowers blooming at once, the pollinators will choose what fits their bodies/tongues best. They will also choose which flowers allow them to compete best with other pollinators for resources. I'll give some examples of flower types and pecking orders/competition next using flowers that bloom within the same period in a season, it really becomes a battle ground in a native plant garden. This blog post will focus on herbaceous plants, meaning "forbs" or perennial flowers. Trees, shrubs, and vines for pollinators will be covered in a later post.

(Swamp Milkweed, Grey Headed Coneflower, Heliopsis,Wild Bergamot, and Wild Senna in bloom)

As pollinators compete for pollen/nectar, using their body shape, habitat preference, and other evolutionary adaptation like long tongues....plants compete for pollinators using their flower shape, habitat preference, and other evolutionary adaptation like bloom period timing. When you combine a diverse selection of wildflowers that bloom within the same period, you can see the competition dispersed amongst the various wildflowers.

This scene above, at the reservoir in Eden Park, the quick and strong bumble bee species pried open the legume flowers of Wild Senna which do not allow butterflies, beetles, smaller bees and other short tongued insects to pollinate it by purpose. This creates a good nectar/pollen source that is only accessible to bumble bees, leaving them only themselves to compete with. The only other species of plant pictured here that was able to compete with Wild Senna for bumble bee pollination was Swamp Milkweed, which is a favorite of a wide diversity of pollinators. Even though the Wild Senna can't be used by the milkweed beetles, honey bees, wasps, or butterflies because of it's flower shape, those insects greatly benefit from it's presence as all but a few of the numerous and fiercely competitive bumble bees are occupied by the Wild Senna. Wild Bergamot is another popular target for Bumble Bee species, but wild senna was too popular for it to compete, which left if all for the taking of the butterfly species like this one that seek out the mint family wildflower. In this competition of wildflowers, Grey Headed Coneflowers and Heliopsis were generally unfavored so they are left for whatever insects rather not compete in the battle of the more popular flowers. But, refer back to the grey headed coneflower pictured above, do you see the very small bee? Small bees, wasps, beetles and some others have short tongues and need the highly accessible flowers of Heliopsis, Grey headed coneflower, and Swamp Milkweed. So that small bee species is probably benefitting from the presence of the "popular" wildflowers, as it has now very little competition on the grey headed coneflowers that it is collecting pollen from. This demonstrates the importance of having multiple types of native plants blooming at once so that there are less losers in the competition for resources.

 Though wildflowers are not created equal, they all serve some role, but in this case and in many cases that I have observed the daisy like flower of Heliopsis is nearly completely ignored. Heliopsis is native to open woods, disturbed woodlands, savannas, stream banks and wood edges. Perhaps the pollinators that once specialized in heliopsis pollination are rare or extinct because of habitat destruction, or perhaps heliopsis was never very popular. But Heliopsis does have it's redeeming qualities, the biggest one being its' bloom period. It begins blooming in early June before any of the above listed wildflowers do, and in ideal conditions it continues into August. So one can hypothesize that it possibly gets more pollinator traffic in the month of June before Wild Senna, Grey Headed Coneflower, Swamp Milkweed, Wild Bergamot and others have started their bloom period. Either way some wildflowers are much less utilized than others, so while diversity is important....limiting the dominance of a lightly or rarely utilized wildflowers like Heliopsis may benefit the pollinator community.

(This prairie seeding is along the Bike Trail at Miami White Water- Great Parks of Hamilton County)

In the Midwest region White Tail Deer are over populated in nearly all environments, Urban, Suburban, and Rural. A large majority of pollinators relied on the previously forested lands that supported a diverse array of wildflowers that bloomed from Late March into June, predominately. The combination of deforestation, invasive shrub invasion in forest understories, and White Tail Deer over grazing the remaining forest wildflowers; these native pollinators must find other viable sources of nectar and pollen early in the season. The majority of prairie wildflowers bloom from Late June through September, but a few bloom earlier and this picture above was taken mid May. The hard to see Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliata) are numerously short-tubed shaped flowers from the mint family. This flower type excludes very short tongued insects like wasps and beetles, but the tubes aren't deep enough to exclude insects with moderately long tongues like honeybees, and small butterflies.  The gold daisy like flower is Lance Leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) and is highly accessible to pollinators. The petals present a large landing pad for insects and the nectar source is abundant enough to attract large Bumble Bees and butterflies. The white tubed shaped flowers are Foxglove Beardtongue, which exclude some pollinators by the shape. The abundant nectar is then only accessible by smaller bumble bees and other small bees, but takes significant energy for butterflies to retrieve it's resources.

Together this selection of just 3 different wildflowers was able to support small, medium and large sized butterflies, wasps and beetles, and bees of all sizes. The summer wildflowers have their own importance, but April and May native prairie bloomers that are unpalatable to deer would go a long way in helping pollinators throughout the midwest which has seen extensive damage done to their forest spring blooming wildflowers. For helping out pollinators in the Midwest and Eastern regions, I suggest favoring a strong April through May crop of diverse flower shapes. Here's some deer resistant choices. Before planting, talk to a local native plant supplier about to find out what will work on your property.

Note: Not all of these species are unpalatable to deer, and not all are prairie species.

(Switching gears, once again, diversity is the key, even for the non-native Honey Bees)

I'll dedicate this piece of the blog post to the Honey Bee enthusiasts. Let's look at the physical adaptations of the the honey bee first. It is small enough to squeeze into tubular flowers of the Southern Blue Flag Iris (Iris virginica shrevei), it has a long enough tongue to reach the nectar in a shallow tubed flower like Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliata), and efficient enough to gather pollen from a flower as small as Black Eye Susan (Rudbeckia hirta). Honeybees are excluded, by nature, from flowers with thin long tubes like that of Wild Bergamot and/or Obedient Plant, odd shaped flowers like Purple Coneflower which has spikes that require long tongues to navigate, and some legume flowers like Wild Senna. So honey bee lovers should just stay away from those, and plant a bunch of highly accessible flowers like Butterfly Milkweed and Mountain, wrong, very wrong in fact.

In all moderately diverse wildflower observations I made this season, Honey Bees foraged together, yet separate from their biggest competition, Bumble Bees. Bumble bees will choose the cream of the crop sources of nectar and pollen, like they chose Wild Senna over the other summer forbs, and how they chose Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) over the smaller Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) in this following setting. In a field that featured strong populations of the previously listed Milkweeds, Bumble Bees dominated the Common Milkweed along with milkweed beetles, while honeybees steered clear focusing on the smaller Butterflyweed, which all but the smallest of Bumble Bees, passed over. The large Common Milkweed populations on the site, acted like Wild Senna in the first example, which allowed for Butterflies, smaller native bees, and Honey Bees to compete on Butterflyweed.

These following observations are in reference to the above picture. In a second field example, Bumble Bees, which favor Mountain Mint species in many forb associations, were dispersed among the Prairie Blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Honey Bees have adapted to the Liatris genus, but chose to concentrate on the Mountain mint, which had the least competition. Rattlesnake master was also present, and hosted small butterflies, and various small native bees. I wouldn't place too much emphasis on the specific plants, one key concept to take away is diversity of flower types blooming in the same period. The other key concept is providing the Bumble Bees, which are the honeybees biggest competition, with plants that Bumble Bees specialize in to keep them from directly competing with honeybees on the same flora. Here's a list of plants that Bumble Bees tend to flock to over most other native plants while in bloom.

(Occupying Bumble Bee populations throughout the season will allow honeybees forage competitively)

(Here's a list of flowers that honey bees foraged on in mass while Bumble Bees were occupied)

(Many butterflies are generalists feeding from various types of nectar bearing flowers)

Butterflies capture our heart from a young age, and draw our interest throughout our adulthood. Unlike Bees, Beetles, Wasps and other pollinators, they require certain plants to be present to lay their eggs upon and reproduce with. The most mainstream example at the moment is the Monarch Butterfly relying on Milkweed species (Asclepias sp.) to lay their eggs on. While many butterflies may be generalists as adults, most are specialists in their caterpillar larvae stage requiring specific native plants to consume. Doug Tallamy's (Activist/Entomologist) book "Bringing Nature Home" conveniently lists what trees and shrubs support the most Lepidoptera (Moths/Butterflies) larvae. Native wildflowers, sedges, and grasses support their fair share also, but each plant species supports different Lepidotera. By downloading this compilation of data by Doug Tallamy, you can choose to favor genera that support the most to get the biggest bang per square foot out of your landscape. Butterflies like many other insects and organisms, have suffered from habitat destruction/ecosystem displacement. As they navigate our foreign and cultivated plant studded metropolitans, and our agriculturally developed rural lands, everyone could make their live much easier by just planting their property with a diverse selection of native plants.

As for supporting their drinking habit, well there's a few ways we can do that for them. Once again, Bumble Bees are the top dog competitor in our region, so refer to the plants I listed above that Bumble Bees specialize in and will flock to. To complement the Bumble Bee "occupiers", stick with concept of diverse flower types throughout the whole season. Butterflies and even skippers have very long tongues or "proboscises" which allow them to access nectar in some of the deepest tubed flowers when need be. But many of the Butterfly favorites such as Milkweeds, Echinacea species, and Eupatoriums have moderately to highly accessible nectar sources, so it isn't definitely necessary to favor plants with deeply tubed flowers such as Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). I cannot emphasize enough, diversity and bloom periods. With at least 3 different native flowering plants blooming from May through September, complemented by some Bumble Bee "occupiers" resident and migrating butterflies will set up camp on your property throughout the season. Here's a list of butterfly favorites, but remember that without good diversity and quantity the competition will be so tight that Butterflies may seek out less competitive sources leaving your plants for non-targeted pollinators.

(Bumble Bees pollinate these too but can be distracted by planting simultaneously blooming occupiers)

Here is one last way to attract Butterflies that is less flashy, but perhaps easier and still highly beneficial to the species. Butterflies suck nutrients out of saturated sandy, gravel, or silty areas to balance their diet. It is necessary for their survival, and often they flock to wet areas that seep out water throughout the season. One can artificially make one of these "puddling areas" by getting creative and following some online resources. I personally cannot say that I have tried this creation before, but every season without fail, I find multiple butterflies taking advantage of wet spots of soil and sand so I am sure they would utilize yours if designed properly.

To recap I am going to reinforce the key terms and concepts relevant to all pollinators, and elaborate upon what a generous offering of yard to pollinators could be.

Diversity and Bloom Period

These concepts go hand in hand, because one can have a wide diversity of flowers/flower types, but if only 1-2 are in bloom throughout the season, much of the value of the diversity is lost in reference to balancing competition of pollinators. 1-2 Bumble Bee"occupiers" blooming throughout the year will help ease the concentration of competition, then adding at least 2 other native plants blooming simultaneously of different flower types gives you a recipe for success.

By August butterflies are beginning to migrate, so planting butterfly favorites that bloom from August through October, may attract them as they migrate south. Also, August is a time of heat and drought and is an important month in between the Aster/Goldenrod parade of September-October and the mid summer blooms of July to supply sustenance to your pollinators. When sited correctly, these August bloomers above will suffice. But don't forget the first list referenced in this blog post pertaining to April-May flowering plants, that is too, an opportunity for you to help, by offsetting the lost of our forest wildflower diversity being destroyed as previously stated.

How much is enough?

The urban, suburban, and rural environments host such fragmented unnatural environments, yet pollinators find a way to survive. My advice is to give as much as you can afford to maintain. A properly designed/sited wildflower or prairie seeding in replace of some of your lawn is the most effective and low maintenance way of utilizing your square footage. If approaching this from a more formal perennial bed style of gardening, the bigger the better, but again the key is limiting the square footage to what you can maintain or pay to have maintained. We can't give enough back, to replace the ecosystems we have displaced and erased. People such as myself, who live on more than an acre, have a grand opportunity to give much of their land back to nature in an ornamentally enriching way through an intricate prairie format designed by a professional. But it is always amazing to see, when an urban or suburban landowner, decides to "go native" with their landscape, the concentration of pollinators competing within their 500 sq.ft. foundation bed. So however much you can give, keep it native, well maintained, uncultivated, and have it well designed to support your target pollinators throughout the season. There's also typically local native plant community groups such as Wild Ones in which you can expand your resource base and help the movements that support pollinator benefitting. If you can't give much of your yard away, you can still benefit pollinators through stewardship projects groups like Wild Ones host. 

Pollinator Recap

Bumble Bees- can be supported with providing them the native plants they specialize in pollinating from April through October.

Honey Bees- benefit from the luxury of lessened direct competition by providing Bumble Bees with their favorites, and letting Honey Bees forage upon their most preferred. Sometimes like in the case of Prairie Dock, both species overlap and will have to compete directly, but as long as you retain a diversity of multiple native plants in bloom each part of the season, the Honey Bees will benefit greatly.

Butterflies- require plant host species to "stick around". Without a good diversity of host plants, you can't expect Butterflies to do much more than fuel up and take off in search for suitable breeding grounds. Planting butterfly magnets heavier in the months of August through October will also improve your probability of helping migrating species. And, consider puddling.

All others- rely on the same principles. Multiple types of flowers blooming simultaneously and nectar/pollen sources from April through October. They also have their habitat requirements, but if their  in your neighborhood, most likely those requirements have been met in one way or another.

Hummingbirds-will have their own blog post dedicated to them.

Related Resource Books

Attracting Native Pollinators 

Bringing Nature Home

Native Plants for Honeybees

Sunday, June 30, 2013

State of the Union Address: The Wavering Health of the Eastern Forest

 (Red River Gorge sandy hill-top dry-mesic forest in November)

Education is power. I'd like to empower readers to empower others about the threats caused by globalization, human disturbance and other natural factors, on our forests of the Midwest and East. In this blog post I will outline the greatest threats to the security of our forests, outside of logging, agricultural development and urban sprawl. Foreign insects and diseases, by no fault of their own, are devastating and/or weakening the composition of our forests by using native trees as hosts without any effective natural controls unimplemented by man. With climate change, the threats grow. Studies tie increasing wildfires, droughts and floods to man perpetuated climate change posing long-term threats. The icing on the cake is within the disturbance of our forested regions, invasive species are taking advantage of newly broken ground quicker than a good diversity of our forest canopy species can, changing the whole process of natural succession. The logging projects of the pioneers, and first settlers would have not yield such beautiful second growth forests as we have throughout most of the East if today's invasive plants were as established as they are now, back then. Today, from Ornamental Pear, to the Honeysuckles, and Kudzu we have major disruptors to the regenerative process of our forest systems that will compound the problem of many species being weakened or push to extinction by foreign pests and pathogens. Once again, education is power, and I hope to empower many to begin to turn the wheels of innovation and dedication, so that we may preserve/restore as much of our native forest communities as possible for the future. 

This post will focus on species of trees that are dominant or common in forest communities of primarily  Midwestern, Eastern, and Northeastern America.

( A Red Oak- Quercus Rubra, in fall color)

With the demise of the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), the role of mass producing proteins and fats within the forest ecosystems has been largely shifted to Hickories, Beech, and Oaks which often make up large portions of today's second growth forests. The Oak species (Quercus), in American has been found to support the larvae of over 500 different kinds of moths and butterflies, the most of any single tree genus. The number of other insects that directly rely or that are supplemented by the Oak genus is imaginably large also. Oaks face threats from many fronts even though they are one of the most disease resistant, extreme weather tolerant, and long lived species of the American forests. 

Biggest Threats

The Red Oak Borer (Enaphalodes rufulus) threatens currently in the Central Hardwood Region, having already done severe damage to ecosystems in the Ozark Highlands. This pest attacks the young and old, it prefers Quercus rubra (northern red oak), Q. velutina (black oak), and Q. coccinea (scarlet oak). Other species are also less often attacked.

 Twolined Chestnut Borer (Agrilus bilineatus) today attacks oaks in decline, under abnormal stress, or suppressed by shade. First signs are wilted foliage that turns brown and hangs upon the branches, then the branches die and/or will make no foliage for the following year that have been bored into. Death of the tree usually occurs within 3 years of the initial attacks.

The Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) was introduced by a french scientist in the late 1800's.  This moth's larvae feeds upon oaks, apple, sweetgum, speckled alder, basswood, gray and white birch, poplar, willow, hawthorn, cottonwood, hemlock, southern white cedar, and native pines and spruces. When populations rise, over 50% defoliation is common. When severe consecutive defoliation occurs mixed with environmental, pathogen, or other insect stress, trees will die after a last significant defoliation.

Outlook-Neutrally Positive

The Oak species aren't under indefinite demise such as the Ash species (Fraxinus sp.), but over time the above threats can worsen or expand their range taking advantage of environmental stress factors and human disturbance weakening mature specimens. The succession of shade tolerant species (Beech-Fagus sp., Maple-Acer sp.), which most argue is natural, are a direct threat to Oaks in the forest communities. Oaks remain one of the most ecologically valuable trees of all of America. Their large savannah open grown canopies offer a generous amount of shade and cooling to developed areas making them a very attractive candidate for combating heat islands and reforesting communities. But when reforesting or planting for heat relief for cities, diversity is always a must, as the next generalist or specialist insect brought in from overseas may be only 10, 30, or 50 years away which could potentially wipe mono-culture plantings like the American Elm (Elmus americana) catastrophe. For now, Oaks remain a very viable and valuable tree selection for the Midwest throughout the northeast with it's biggest threats being natural succession and gypsy moths. 

(The outlook on Hickories is very positive, but we must be careful not to over plant any species)

Hickories (Carya sp.) occupy a substantial amount of primarily upland forest habitats. Some hickories do specialize in bottomland habitats, but very few can withstand saturated soil for too long. The nuts and wood, are of high value to humans, and wildlife. This is a slow growing, large, long lived tree that has the kind of disease and pest resistance and climatic adaptability, that any heat island relief reforestation program would ask for. Though they do not grow as wide as the Oaks in open situations, they do grow as tall and often a bit taller depending on the species and site.

Biggest Threats

Deforestation and development is a threat to all tree species, but in some forest types Hickories share a similar succession problem as the Oaks do. Most hickories are shade intolerant, with a few species being intermediately tolerant. Research revealed no major insect or pathogen threats.

Outlook-Very Positive

When researching threats to Hickories (Carya species) in the East and Midwest I was pleasantly surprised to find out there are no major insects or pathogens severely affecting them. One threat to all of our niche occupying trees is climatic change. By the end of the century Cincinnati's climate is projected to fall somewhere near being most similar to Middle-Tennessee at best, and Northern Alabama at worst. In city reforesting projects, or habitat reforesting, trees that range into the south should be prioritized over trees that are only dominant in Zones 5 or cooler (in reference to a project in Zone 6). Many Hickories such as the Shagbark Hickory pictured above range from the Southeast all of the way into Canada, perhaps making them a smarter choice for planting minding the future climate projections. When properly sited, Hickories are typically drought/heat tolerant, wind tolerant, and some species are even tolerant of poorly drained soils, the true challenge is finding hickories that are commercially available.

(Black Walnut-Juglans nigra is under a great threat of a canker disease spread by a beetle)

The Black Walnut is a sporadically occurring canopy tree throughout America, where which has been planted as an ornamental and for food in states it's not native to for centuries. It is a scattered forest tree preferring deep, well drained fertile soils, commonly found near streams and well-drained bottom lands. A toxic substance secreted by the roots (juglone) inhibits the growth of some plants beneath trees; this is know as allelopathy.  Because of the high value of it's wood, it is now grown in plantations as a source of top-dollar veneer lumber. The nuts are only penetrable by squirrels and are a highly preferred food source to the species, but the formidable husk and shell prevent other animals from consuming them.
Biggest Threats

Walnut Twig Beetles (Pityophthorus juglandis) are the carriers of death for primarily the Black Walnut. The Beetle is native to Arizona, California, and New Mexico, but is invading states where Black Walnut has been planted and naturalized. Adult bark beetles carry fungal spores that are then introduced into the phloem where they create galleries. Small cankers develop around the galleries these cankers may enlarge and converge to completely girdle the branch. Trees die as a result of these canker infections at each of the thousands of beetle attack sites. The disease the beetle is spreading is also native to those above listed western states, being identified as Thousand Cankers Disease (Geosmithia sp.). On a side note: Butternut Canker (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum) introduced to North America, has already seen the decrease of the Juglans cousin of Black Walnut, White Walnut (Juglans cinerea), in some states reach over 80%. 

Outlook- Moderately Negative

With large populations in the west already being decimated, and the disease/beetle combo already having made it's way into Tennessee, favorable climatic projects lead to the possibility of Black walnuts being similarly effected in Eastern Forests. Black Walnuts are also common components of disturbed metropolitan forests, second growth forests, and neighborhoods which poses the future threat of another mass dying and reduction of metropolitan tree canopy similar to what we are seeing with the Ash Trees (Fraxinus sp.) today. Personally, I would avoid planting Black Walnut until we are certain we have a biological or safe chemical control for the Thousand Cankers Disease. They recolonize very well after disturbance without our planting of them, probably because of forgetful squirrels, and there are many other trees with healthier outlooks. 

(Yellow Birch-Betula alleghaniensis, a co-dominant species of northern forests)

Outside of the Birch trees natural ranges, these predominantly northerly trees are highly susceptible to insect and disease problems. The River Birch-Betula nigra is the most heat/humidity tolerant birch and is readily available through nurseries. All birches have several common features that help identify them. Most species of birch have papery, flaky bark of one varying color that has elongate, horizontal rows of lenticels.  These medium sized mature trees have catkins that remain on the ends of the wings throughout the winter, usually clustered and obvious. Wildlife highly value the flowers and seeds of most birch species. 

Outlook-Neutrally Positive

The birches have one potentially major threat already well established in the Northeast. This is the Birch Leafminer-Fenusa pumila, a small sawfly native to Europe that feeds on the tissue between the upper and lower surfaces of birch leaves. The birch leafminer causes damage to gray birch, European white birch, Erman birch, Asian white birch, monarch birch, and paper birch. Early season defoliation is particularly damaging. Severe defoliation weakens the tree and increases its susceptibility to invasion by secondary insect and disease pests. The host may show no symptoms of decline for several years, however, repeated leaf loss year after year could be fatal to the tree.

In comparison to the Emerald Ash Borer, Gypsy Moths, and other foreign insect threats, the Birch Leafminer causes fatality not nearly as often and is less damaging leaving the outlook for the Birch species neutrally positive depending on the development of this pest. 

(The iconic American Beech-Fagus grandifolia, isn't without threats either today)

The long lived Beech tree is usually no more than 80 feet in height, while open grown trees have widely spreading crowns and short trunks. It preferes moist, well drained, fertilize soils dominating mesophytic types of forests through the mobility of it's nuts (by animals) and incredible shade tolerance. In drier, sandy forests it may be restricted to northern and eastern hillsides but where it is present, long-term, it will usually take up a significant amount of the canopy. The nuts are highly nutritious and attractive to wildlife, being small enough to be utilized and hoarded by birds which raise the mobility of it's crop. The cavity prone physical make up of the tree also makes it very high in value for cavity dwelling forest fauna. 

Biggest Threats

When Beech Scale (Cryptococcus fagisuga), a soft bodied scale insect, feeds on the Beech tree, the damage caused by the introduced insect opens the door for Beech Bark Disease (Neonectria coccinea var. faginata). Beech Bark Disease has caused significant mortality, throughout Northeastern America and Southeast- Canada, it has also been cited as far west as Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. On some trees, a red-brown exudate, called a slime flux or "tarry spot," oozes from dead spots. These dead spots are often the first symptom of Nectria infection.

Outlook-Neutrally Negative

While the Beech currently has only one major threat with the introduced insect/fungus combo, there currently is no biological or chemical control that can be replicated on a large enough scale to eradicate the growing and spreading damage these organisms are doing. There is possibly resistant populations within most tree species to their threats though, and sadly, one day it may come down to propagating from the Beech trees that remain after the scale and fungus have done their damage. But this is currently the only major threat to Beech trees so if we do create an economical widespread control, the outlook will be very healthy. 

(Sugar Maples are doing very well, and some think too well, but do share a common threat)

Acer saccharum-Sugar maple, is a large, shade tolerant, dominant species occurring in mass throughout the Midwestern, Eastern and Northeastern mesophytic forests. The processes of natural succession may have been effected by man historically through prescribing and/or suppressing wildfires that would promote and/or control fire sensitive species like American Beech and Sugar Maple. Today Sugar Maples are displacing Oaks, Hickories, and pioneer species of second growth forest throughout their native range which isn't a positive for long-term diversity. Sugar maples are great landscape trees providing stunning fall color, and ample heat island relief with it's broad, but short trunk in open grown situations. It is less sensitive to drought than American Beech, and more tolerant of urban conditions also. But Sugar Maples do share a threat that potentially threatens many tree species.

Biggest Threat

The Asian Long Horn Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is currently the Sugar Maple's, and all Maples biggest threat, more on this pest later.

Outlook-Tenatively, Very Positive

It's ability to reproduce and even change the composition of forest types within it's native range secures it's foothold as a dominant Eastern tree. But it's future greatly hinges upon future land use, deforestation, climatic change, and most importantly the control of the Asian Long Horn Beetle which I will elaborate on towards the end of this blog post. 

(The future of Hemlocks in America, is not positively promising)

Hemlocks (Tsuga sp.) prefer acidic, cool soil habitats within mesophytic forests. It occurs sporadically throughout the East and upper Midwest, and in mass within the Northeast. These native evergreens can become 90 feet tall and grow rapidly in ideal conditions living as long as 600 years. This is one of the most shade tolerant Eastern trees, and easily one of the most shade tolerant evergreen trees making it a long-term community member where the habitat is suitable. In the right microclimates Hemlocks thrive in landscapes, but are sensitive to drought, salt, windy, and dry conditions requiring a well researched placement.  Larger trees are favorite nest sites of many songbirds including black-throated green, blackburnian, and yellowy-rumped warblers, both kinglets, and purple finches. Seeds are small, but some-times crops are enormous and utilized heavily by pine siskins and crossbills. 

Biggest Threats

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae), native to Asia, is established in portions of 16 states leaving death of Eastern (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolinia Hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) where it attacks. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is a small, aphidlike insect that varies from dark reddish-brown to purplish-black in color. As it grows mature it creates a covering of wool-like wax filaments to protect itself and its eggs, which can be easily observed from late fall to early summer on the underside of the  branch tips of hemlocks.  Hemlock die back and death generally occurs within 4 to 10 years of infestation in Hemlock Wooly Adelgid's northern range, but can occur in as little as 3 to 6 years in its southern range.

Elongate Hemlock Scale (Fiorinia externa), native to japan, attacks the lower surface of the hemlock needle, where it removes fluids from the mesophyll cells through piercing and sucking mouthparts. Mixed infestations of scales and adelgids can greatly hasten hemlock decline as scale populations build slowly on healthy trees, but much more quickly on stressed ones. Trees often die within the next 10 years, but some survive longer in a severely weakened condition with only a sparse amount of foliage at the very top of the crown and these weakened trees are unsightly and have little chance for recovery.


Treatments are available for protection of Hemlocks on small scales, but country wide would be not be economical. The combination of two foreign threats spreading through the native ranges of the hemlocks, makes this trees future nearly as bleak as the Ash Tree's (Fraxinus sp.) which I will describe next.

Trees Nearly of the Past.....

(The Ash trees (Fraxinus sp.) are a major loss ecologically, and economically)

Ash trees are large shade trees that acted as pioneer tree species and long-term dominant species of many mesophytic and hydrophytic forest types of the east. They are currently in the process of being wiped out within their native regions by a non-native insect, the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). On small scales, the trees are treatable, much like the Hemlocks, but it is not feasible to do on a forest-wide basis. Genotypes are being preserved today, to one day restore the Ash trees back into the wild once the Borer has been declared extinct, which won't happen until it's food sources are all exhausted.

(Today the American Chestnut has been reduced to stump sprouts)

American Chestnut was the most common tree in the Appalachian Mountains until the mid-twentieth century, when an exotic fungus killed every tree in its natural range. Though it still exists a small trees sprouting from old stumps, and occasionally becomes large enough to produce fruit, the species is basically nonexistent compared to its former status among the trees of the Central Hardwoods. There is currently major efforts to reintroduce resistant trees into the wild by different organizations including the American Chestnut Foundation. 

(A few American Elms also remain, sporadically, possibly resistant to Dutch Elm's disease)

Dutch Elm's Disease has seen the native Elms be reduced to sporadic specimens, many in decline, but some perhaps resistant to the Beetle/Disease combination. These trees were very ecologically, and economically important. The expanding flower buds are heavily sought out in the spring, probably from their high protein content. The seeds are also taken by a wide variety of birds and rodents once they fall in early summer, a time in which mast food production in the forest is at a low. A bit of hope remains of finding resistant elms, as for now, ornamentally resistant exotics are used, and some like the Siberian Elm have come very invasive.

No.1 Enemy of the State

(The Asian Longhorned Beetle-Anoplophora glabripennis)

  The Asian longhorned beetle-Anoplophora glabripennis, is native to Japan, Korea, and southern China. Experts think that the beetle hitchhiked to the U.S. during the early 1990's in solid wood packing or crating materials on cargo ships arriving from China.  In the U.S., where no natural enemies exist, the insect is extremely destructive to our landscape trees and forests. The beetle attacks many different hardwood trees, including maple (all species), horsechestnut, buckeye, poplar, willow, elm, birch, London plane tree, sycamore, mimosa, katsura tree, hackberry, ash, and mountain ash. Trees of any age may be attacked, however, trees 4 inches in diameter and larger are preferred. Beetles will attack both stressed and healthy trees, which makes them an even greater threat.  Early detection, and then eradication is the best prescription for preventing this pest from moving throughout our Eastern Forests.

There is much that threatens the viability and composition of our forests today outside of insects and disease. Climate change increased temperature, wildfires, floods, and droughts will have there effects. Unyielding population growth, projecting for the amount of land use for agriculture to increase threatens legally unprotected forests. Invasive plants are established at such populations that they are preventing and changing the composition of forest succession/regeneration without human intervention. The challenge is before us today, for forever. If we do not educate one another, support the protection and proper management of forests-private and public, these parts of American history may only one day exist in photographs.

I've listed some valuable resources below. I hope you've enjoyed this sobering piece, and gained some insight on the challenges that face us today.