Project Highlight – Oak Openings Priority Conservation Area
In keeping up momentum gained from sharing some recent MAAC-recommended project successes, we’ve got another highlight for you! Most, if not all of you are familiar with the Oak Openings Region, an area historically dominated by Oak savannas and wet prairies, and understand it’s ecological value. It is exciting to say that the MAAC works in and around an area that despite its size (just 0.5% of Ohio’s total land area), is home to one-third of Ohio’s rare plant and animal species! Unfortunately, this area has been dramatically altered over the last 200 years through drainage, agriculture, fire exclusion, and urban expansion.
In order to address the loss of wildlife habitat (BUI 14b) associated with the disturbances listed above, Metroparks Toledo, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (as part of MAAC-recommended projects MAP 4-16 & MAP 10-16) acquired four separate tracts of land, totaling 31 acres, within areas designated as Oak Openings Priority Conservation Areas. Project goals are to ultimately provide habitat protection for threatened and endangered wildlife species that inhabit the Oak Openings, enhance habitat connectivity by creating corridors between existing protected parks and preserves, and improve water quality within the Lake Erie watershed through the protection of wetlands, floodplains, and uplands draining into the region’s rivers and streams.
Specific management practices used in these parcels to achieve the aforementioned project goals include;
- Preparation of the project areas for native plantings by removing woody invasive plants such as glossy buckthorn encroaching on prairie and savanna habitats using hydro-ax mowing and application of selective herbicides;
- Enhancement of existing high quality habitat through the use of prescribed fire, mowing and other best management practices; and
- Removal of trash and debris left behind by previous landowners.
These sites will enjoy permanent protection from future redevelopment and will act as refuges for native wildlife for years to come! See summaries of more exciting projects on the MAAC projects page!