Woody Winter Work
Staff & volunteers restore natural areas
While walking a trail this winter in one of the St. Charles Park District’s natural areas you may occasionally find workers cutting shrubs, clearing brush and even cutting down trees. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is necessary work that must be completed to help woodland ecosystems in this region thrive. And part of that work is made possible by resident volunteers. Winter woody work includes ridding a woodland area of trees, brush and shrubs that are nonnative and/or blocking sunlight from reaching the native understory. If the native understory – the layer of vegetation between the woodland canopy and floor consisting of shrubs and herbaceous vegetation — does not prosper, the entire ecosystem will unravel. The goal is to have 30-50 percent canopy openings in a woodland setting, a percentage needed for acorns to germinate. This, in turn, affects the insects, birds and wildlife that depend on those natives to survive.