by Richard Forrester
The purpose of the FLMSP reforestation program is to replace ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer, stabilize banks to prevent the trail from slipping into the river or its feeder streams, reforest bare areas that had been devoid of trees, and hide unsightly areas adjacent to the trail. Despite adequate volunteers and resources, however, 2019 was one of the most challenging years for the reforestation program in the history of Little Miami Sate Park.
Native Ohio trees, shrubs, and prairie seeds were ordered from four different organizations this year in the interest of improving biodiversity and due to the suppliers differing inventories. This included a new partnership with the non-profit Ohio Valley Forestry Fellowship which supplied FLMSP with 150 trees (50 redbuds and 100 northern red oaks). These were a much-appreciated donation from an organization that has done a wonderful job of supplying trees to schools, libraries, ODOT, and civic organizations for over 40 years.
FLSMP continues to obtain low cost flora from several county soil and water conservation districts. These governmental groups help promote conservation through cooperative partnerships, education programs, and technical assistance in land and water management. They also supply low cost tree and shrub seedlings as part of their annual flora sale to the general public.* In 2019, we used Clermont County, Franklin County and Montgomery County SWCD. Because the Little Miami State Park is a State and National Wild and Scenic River, only approved riparian vegetation is allowed to be planted. The trees and shrubs we ordered were all native species that met the Wild and Scenic River requirements.
In addition, several trees were donated by individuals.
All in all, 396 trees and shrubs were obtained. Additionally, packets of Ohio Wildflower and Pollinator seed were obtained for future use in creating small native prairies along the trail. The total expenditure in 2019 for trees, shrubs, and wildflowers was $616.
The following species were obtained at a cost of approximately $1-$3 per tree/shrub:
For comparison, the previous year’s totals were:
159 in 2015 (first year of the reforestation program),
314 in 2016
459 in 2017
214 in 2018.
Prior to 2019, 1146 trees and shrubs had been planted as part of the reforestation project since its inception.
The 2019 goal was to focus planting on the southern half of the trail. Additionally, prior to planting, a new procedure was implemented in 2019–all Amur Honeysuckle was removed from the areas being planted. Amur Honeysuckle is an extremely aggressive non-native invasive species that is spreading throughout native Ohio forests suppressing and overwhelming the native flora.
Another change implemented for 2019 was to attempt planting all the trees/shrubs upon arrival in the spring instead of the fall. Trees/shrubs were not potted up as done in previous years for planting in the fall season. The advantage of fall plantings is that they can be stabilized, watered, and fertilized so they develop robust root structures throughout the spring and summer; they are then planted in the fall after they have gone dormant. The downside is this method significantly increases total work as they have to be potted (effectively planted twice) and must be actively managed for months before planting.
Multiple high school groups and businesses expressed interest in helping with planting efforts, and the planting season started off with a bang. Seven work sessions went off successfully. And then the rains came, and came, and came. Multiple work sessions had to be cancelled. Unfortunately, the constant spring rains severely damaged (drowned or rotted) plants that had not been planted early in the season. Bare-root trees/shrubs can only be held for 1-2 weeks at most.
Once the rains stopped, the weather became too hot and dry to plant. FLMSP does not have the equipment and personnel to individually water hundreds of trees and shrubs planted over dozens of miles of the trail. So, plantings should occur when there is a reasonable expectation of enough ensuing precipitation to keep the plantings alive and thriving without intervention.
Two more sessions occurred later in the year to finish the planting season. Multiple trees were left in pots to overwinter for 2020.
In all, there were 207 volunteer hours logged by the 55 volunteers. Of the 396 trees/shrubs, only 196 were able to be successfully planted.
For year 2020, 200 trees/shrubs were ordered at a cost of $320. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the order for trees was cancelled by the soil and water conservation district. We are hoping they offer a fall planting season sale, assuming there is an end to the pandemic and business returns back to normal. We will keep you posted!
*Almost all counties in Ohio have Soil/Water Districts. You can order plants in the beginning of the year (Jan/Feb/Mar), and pickup is in March/April.
Lebanon’s ADVICS Corporation Volunteer Day September 15, 2019
Boy Scout Troop #888, March 17, 2019
Removing Invasive Species: Autumn/Russian Olive, Tree of Heaven, and Amur Honeysuckle
Tree Planting March 23, 2019
ADVICS Corporation Volunteers prepping area for future native Ohio prairie. Main prairie will be in the background to left of picnic shelter (1/4 acre cleared).
Trail Mail Quiz Answer: Poor weather made 2019 the most challenging year in the history of the FLMSP Reforestation program.