Re: NANFA-L-- Riparian Vegetation was "Creek Chubs?"

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Riparian Vegetation was "Creek Chubs?"
From: Todd D. Crail (tcrail-in-UTNet.UToledo.Edu)
Date: Tue Nov 30 2004 - 17:17:21 CST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark" <>
> Um... I need a little more info. If there are trees now, why are they
> surviving?

Lowering of the historic water table through the ditches and fire
suppression. When you're here in December, we'll take a drive out there so
you can see what huge tracts of 40 year old trees looks like. It gets
creepy after driving around in it for awhile :)

> Is this not land that was historically forested?

The portion I will be working with was a 7 mile x 1 mile completely treeless
prairie as late as the 1920's. Some areas of oak savanna measured 3 to 4
trees per acre (usually black oaks on top of dunes) but this is the classic
Irwin Prairie. It wasn't until the Great Depression hit and people tried
again (first time in the early 1800's) to subdue the land in the 1930's that
the water table was dumped. And even still... As late as the 1960's, when
Prairie Ditch and Wiregrass Ditch were put in place, did the north western
slat that was the classic Irwin Prairie fall into woody plant succession.

TNC and ODNR have pollen cores that go back in the thousands of years, and
it's been prairie for a long time. The southern Oak Openings had some
succession going back and forth that was expanded into staying prairie by
the native peoples (lighting fires), but the north end has just been too
wet. It's 3-6 feet of sand on top of good old thick Great Black Swamp clay.
It's a big grainy bowl of water :)

> But is that really beneficial, if the natural processes would otherwise
> lead to a forested and less "productive" system?

The adjacent land is NOT going to become forested, and will always be over
productive, unless we begin to figure out ways to eat up all that silt,
phosphorus and nitrogen.

> Sure, if we are going fishing, we want to see lots of fish. But just
> because we want it, doesn't mean we should have it.

This isn't sacrificing a thriving community to make more bass fishing or
electricity. This is taking a ready made community, living in relict
populations, expanding their populations, and using the entire community to
alleviate the pressures of channelization and nutrient overload. It's just
kinda funny that a some of the plants that could be used just also happen to
be on the State's List because Great Lakes Twig-rush Sedge Meadow is a
globally imperilled habitat.

Really, a lot of this is going to happen on its own, now that the Emerald
Ash Borers are-in-plague proportions in Lucas, Wood and Henry Counties. I
say.... Have a plan in place for once ;) But there are a lot of silver
maples that need helped on their way.

> The other question is whether the increased nutrient inputs in "prairie"
> or non-forested stretches have a negative impact on the watershed as a
> whole. I mean negative in terms of altering the existing or previous
> nutrient balance and species assembly. Or can you show that nutrient
> runoff from cleared-but-vegetated or prairie stretches are no greater than
> those in forested areas?

I can do even better. I can and will show that it is LESS.

Again... this is flat flat flat flat flat flat area with a massive thick
crust of the most crazy glacial lake lacustrine clay that doesn't absorb
anything. We don't have the energy to run anything anywhere, unelss we make
it. Trees aren't necessary for absorption, and the non-woody plants are a
bazillion times more efficient responding to quick changes, and getting all
that water and nutrients locked up in their tissue, thus slowing the rate-in-
which the nutrients are discharged from the system as a whole (rotting
instead of flowing).

And again... I'm not saying this is for everywhere else either. In fact,
that's why I'm pushing this, because we're trying to get HERE to work like
everywhere else, and it's a different beast :)


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: Fri Dec 31 2004 - 12:42:57 CST