a Recent Air Photo and Prepare a Map of the Site
A map of the property
is essential for any restoration project. Although elaborate
computer software is available for preparing maps, a simple
map can be constructed using a recent air photo. Such an air
photo can be downloaded from a commercial web site or obtained
from a County Agricultural Agent. Various on-line sources
for air photos are available, and the quality may vary depending
on the source as well as on the location in the Midwest.
The air photo
can either be obtained as a print, or it can be downloaded.
A download is preferable to a print, since it can be used
in a variety of ways in reports and on web sites. The highest
resolution and the most recent date available is preferable.
If only a print is available, it should be scanned or copied
photographically first in order to retain the original in
an untouched form.
imagery is not suitable here. Obtain an air photo that has
been taken by an airplane at a relatively low altitude.
of air photos include GlobXplorer, TerraServer, and Google
To prepare a map,
walk the property using a copy of the downloaded air photo,
and mark on a transparent overlay various features such as
roads, trails, fence rows, open fields, buildings, ravines,
rock outcrops, important trees, quarries, etc. Divide the
property into management units of manageable size, and mark
these on the overlay also. Each management unit should have
a number or name.
To make the map,
hand draw on the copied photo the various features, including
the management units. Use colors to code the units, such as
woodlands, savanna, prairie, etc.
The final map
is best made on the computer, using a drawing program such
as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. Import into the drawing
program the downloaded or scanned version of the air photo
and then use the various drawing tools to insert the various
features. Label each feature.
area of each management unit using a handheld Global Positioning
System (GPS) device. To do this, clear the Track log, start
a new track, and walk the periphery of each unit. After returning
to the point of beginning, stop the track log and calculate
The area of each
management unit will be important when preparing the management
plan, for calculating costs, and for determining the amount
of seed to be used for planting.
An example of
a management map for a fairly large restoration is shown below.
An even better
approach to making a management map is to use ArcGIS, the
high-end computer software from ESRI. County, State, and Federal
agencies should have access to this very useful software,
as will civil engineers, planners, and academics.
However, a perfectly
good map can be made using the simple approach presented above.
Suppose There Is No Understory?
Even in the absence of significant understory vegetation,
restoration is still possible, as long as the open-grown
oaks are present.
Why is this possible? Take prairie restoration, for example.
Many outstanding tallgrass prairies have been created from
barren fields that had been under agriculture or pasturage
for many years. The existing, usually nonnative, vegetation
was eliminated by use of herbicide, and the field planted
with native prairie grasses and forbs. Mowing, burning, and
hand weeding over the first few years after planting, until
the planted species get established, were necessary to bring
the planted prairie into full fruition. Most of these planted prairies are now self-sustaining;
all that is needed is a regular burn schedule and periodic
monitoring to ensure that invasive species are not becoming
These same techniques
can be used to create a savanna, even on a degraded site, provided the open-grown oaks
Preparing a degraded site
on topgraphy and other conditions, herbicide treatment might be
possible with a tractor-operated boom sprayer. If this is not possible,
use a sprayer hose or hand-held boom sprayer connected to an herbicide
tank in a truck. An electric or gasoline-powered pump at the tank
|Spray rig mounted in the back of a pickup truck. A 200 to 300 foot hose can permit reaching most parts of a 5 acre site. Although this rig can be operated by a single person, a two-person team is more efficient, with one person handling the spray nozzle and the other the reel and hose.
||High capacity electrically pump can provide sufficient pressure to operate two separate hoses, using a manifold with shut-off valves.
||Manifold permitting operation of two separate hoses.
|Spraying a 4 acre savanna site.
|The adjustable spray nozzle permits selection of various spray patterns. With the appropriate adjustment, spray will carry about 25 feet.
over the roots of the large trees. Make sure the whole understory
is sprayed. After spraying, either burn the dead plant material
and thatch (if there is enough fuel) or rake the area to expose
the bare ground before seeding. (For
Seed Mixes, see this link)
An example of how this approach can be applied to savanna
five acre site with nice open-grown oaks. Spray the whole
site with glyphosate in late spring/early summer. Wait
a few weeks and burn off the dead thatch. Wait a few more
weeks for regrowth of the undesirable vegetation and spray
again. Spray a third time in the early to mid fall. Plant
the site with a mix of savanna species in late November/early
December. Control undesirable weeds the following summer
by hand weeding or spraying. Continue to control weeds
for the next several years. Monitor several times a year
for presence of desirable species.
This approach to understory restoration assumes that the site
had no “good” savanna species. Such a site would most likely
be one that had been under pasture and there was no native
species left. Many such sites exist in the Midwest.
An example of a successful restoration following this procedure is shown in the photo below. Originally this site was choked with buckthorn and honeysuckle and nonnative herbaceous species.