The east edge of the Douglas-Hart Nature Center woodland got a makeover. With over 3000 vehicles driving by each day and overgrown invasive plants, conservation staff felt it was a time to address the area. Normally it is not preferable to cut down habitat, but we knew that the unsightly mess would continue to become more troublesome for those that maintain our roadsides as well as the native species that we continue to promote throughout the woodland.
All the while we were cutting down scrub, we had always intended to improve the area with something better. The east edge border parallels about a 0.5 mile of trail. With the proximity of the trail with the road, we wanted to preserve a barrier that would not only provide a visual barricade, but also one that would reduce road noise so that patrons could more fully enjoy the trail experience. Since we wanted these barriers at all times of the year, evergreen trees were the natural option.
A good practice to follow is that if you are planting species in a row, which we were on the east edge, it is good to plant more than one species in case some sort of detrimental disease would affect the trees. Along the east edge there are White Pines (Pinus strobus) that were planted a couple of years ago. To finish off the area we selected Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). While all evergreens provide desirable characteristics, red cedar has numerous wildlife benefits. Red Cedar is a significant source of shelter for wildlife.
The blue fruits on a female tree are eaten by a variety of wildlife including the Cedar Waxwing songbird. Red cedar also happens to be salt tolerant which makes it the perfect option given the proximity to the roadway. Red cedar is also one of the most drought tolerant evergreen species. Cedars in general can tolerate a wide variety of soils. The trees are also capable of providing a substantial windbreak, so much in fact that it was planted as a windbreak to offset the dustbowl conditions of the 1930’s. Luckily, the trees are now located in a spot where they will hopefully never have to prove their wind breaking abilities.