Healthy Forests Mean Cleaner Water
Well-managed forests provide many benefits for water, wildlife, and people. Healthy forests act as a filter and a sponge, which helps remove pollution and control runoff. The leaves of trees wash into streams, providing a major food source for stream life. Trees also provide shade, keeping the water cooler and oxygen rich.
Over the last 10 years our Forestry Stewardship Management Plan has guided our habitat improvement practices here at Valley Water Mill Park. This plan, created in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, identifies different zones and details the types of habitat improvements prescribed for each zone. These include removal of invasive species, identifying thinning procedures to remove damaged or diseased trees, etc.
Recent visitors to the park will have noticed many changes throughout the park based upon our Management Plan. Brush piles throughout the park are the result of the removal of large numbers of invasive species such as Chinese privet and bush honeysuckle. This will allow native species like oaks, hickory, walnut, and redbud to thrive in an effort to reestablish a more natural community. These improvements are especially evident in the area around Sanders Spring.
Next time you are out exploring the park, take time to visit with us about the improvements taking place in the forest, savanna, glade, and prairie habitats. The long term benefits are well worth the effort that goes into these habitat improvements.
Jeff Birchler, Watershed Center Coordinator