HABITAT RESTORATION - FORESTS AND WOODLANDS

Trees provide benefits such as energy savings for cooling and heating our homes.

Trees provide benefits such as energy savings for cooling and heating our homes.

Trees provide shade and blocks of trees can deflect winds, providing energy savings for cooling and heating our homes. They also intercept rainfall, recycle water through evapo-transpiration, and stabilize the soil with their wide network of roots. And of course, they provide food and nesting habitat for all sorts of wildlife. Finally, much of Washington County used to be covered with forest, and therefore, with all these factors in mind, planting trees is supported by the Washington Conservation District.

While some of the forests were maple-basswood complexes (the "Big Woods") most of the forests that still exist are remnants of the oak forest complexes or the floodplain forests along the rivers. The mixture of tree species will vary with the local conditions - aspens with red oaks on the moister soils in the northern part of the County, white oak with hazelnut understory on the drier sites. Towards the southern part of the County the savanna was abundant, often referred to as "prairie with trees." Over the centuries, as wildfires were suppressed, the savannas and forests have grown up to shrubs and short-lived seedlings of the canopy trees, often with more aggressive species. Or the trees were removed to accommodate agriculture.

Many local residents have begun to take an interest in restoring woodlands to their properties.

Many local residents have begun to take an interest in restoring woodlands to their properties.

As land-use changed, residents have taken an interest in restoring the woods on their property. Sometimes this means doing maintenance, such as removing invasive shrubs such as buckthorn (see invasive plant page), or it might involve starting from scratch on an abandoned agricultural field.

The WCD sells tree seedlings through our annual tree sale so residents can restore or create their own woods. Some of our conservation plantings have matured, and now are in need of additional restoration work. Shrubs are an important component within the woods, so we offer them too. The species we offer include a mix of evergreens and deciduous, a bird packet, as well as fitting a variety of site conditions.

For information on tree care, see:
MN Extension - Trees and Shrubs 
My Minnesota Woods