The Arkell Springs Forest Stewardship project is enhancing source water protection at the City’s Arkell Springs property by creating a diverse and healthy forest on retired farm land.
Healthy, diverse forests help stabilize soil and filter water as it permeates the ground, working as an early barrier in protecting our source water. Ongoing work will help maintain and re-generate older forested areas on the property.
Forest stewardship not only helps protect our water supply, it also creates healthy habitat for a diversity of wildlife.
Red pine plantations at the Arkell Spring forest
Plantations of red pine were planted in 1964. Plantations often require stewardship to help the succession process.
Trees in this plantation are suffering from decline as a result of poor soil conditions and over-crowding.
The red pine plantations were originally planted as a nurse crop. The trees are planted close together to cut down on agricultural weeds from the fields, and to promote quick height growth. Red pine only has a life expectancy of 40–60 years in our soils. These plantations were originally designed to be thinned in 30 years, and it has now been more than 50 years since they were planted.
We’re building a healthy forest
Natural forests transition through a process called succession. Starting with grasses and shrubs, each stage of succession sees species that prepare the soil and create the right conditions for the next stage, eventually resulting in a mature forest. Succession, whether natural or simulated, creates lush, diverse forests with habitat for wildlife, and recreational opportunities for our communities.
Proactive stewardship, such as tree thinning and annual plantings with mixed species, will encourage continued succession toward a more natural and better-adapted forest—a healthy forest. Tree thinning is a recognized, scientific forest stewardship tool used to support forest health.
A mixture of evergreens and hardwoods continue to be planted across the Arkell Springs property every year. Trees will also be planted in the opened rows of the plantation to encourage forest succession.
Opening the tree canopy creates the space needed for hardwoods and other conifers to take root and grow. Some of the felled red pines will also be left as deadfall, an important element of a healthy forest. Deadfall helps to feed the forest soil as it breaks down, and provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife. These activities help to create a lush, healthy forest.
A variety of wildlife—from birds and turtles to insects and mammals—calls the Arkell Springs home. Some observed species include Indigo Buntings, rabbits, garter snakes, raccoons, White-throated Sparrows, painted turtles, muskrat, deer and Wood Thrush.
We’re working safely and mindfully—for humans and wildlife
Tree thinning is carried out with the safety of both humans and wildlife in mind.
Trail closures will be marked and trails in work areas closed to protect community trail users. Some trails will continue to be open and accessible throughout the work.
Thinning is scheduled so that it doesn’t interfere with wildlife breeding seasons or bird fledging, and machinery will not be permitted to idle when not in use so as to reduce wildlife disturbance due to noise.
We also make sure that we don’t put our precious groundwater at risk with proper planning and risk management preparation. Marking of trees will use non-toxic latex paint, and a spill response plan is in place for equipment carrying fuel or oil through the forest.
Equipment will also be pressure-washed before arrival to site, and before departure, to minimize the movement of invasive plant seeds.