The following was written by Grace Nafziger, Natural Areas Intern
Oak/hickory forests create habitat for a variety of native species including: deer, turkeys, and squirrels. The oaks and hickories are able to provide a mass crop for these organisms before the winter. However, without being monitored, the Oak and Hickory forests may eventually turn into a maple and beech forests. This transition is due to the fact that oak and hickory forests thrive in a dry area that is sometimes burned while beeches and maples do not thrive in this type of environment. In an effort to preserve and restore the Oak and Hickory forests, Bernheim burns certain plots of land every year. After burning, the land is monitored and surveyed in order confirm that the burns are helping the oak and hickory populations. In the past few years, Bernheim has found that our efforts are paying off. Oaks and hickories are thriving in the burn plots, which indicates that more mass crop will be produced, and in turn, there will be a greater habitat available for the native wildlife.