Water Wednesday ‘Pardon our mess or why are we cutting trees down’?

Please Pardon Our Mess or Why Are We Cutting Down Trees?

One frequent comment we get here at the park is “Why are you cutting down the trees? I thought you were supposed to protect nature.” The answer is cutting trees and protecting nature are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we are basically working to protect nature by cutting down trees along with performing other management strategies. Since 2007 we have managed Valley Water Mill Park under the guidance of a Forest Stewardship Plan developed in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation. The purpose of the plan is to achieve a healthy and productive forest. our objectives are to:

  • Manage the park for long-term ecosystem health and resilience.
  • Use land management activities to demonstrate good practices and teach others how to replicate them.
  • Use science and professional guidance to improve water quality and habitat for native plants and animals.
  • Increase the aesthetic value of the park for visitors and showcase the diverse habitats located on the property.

This plan divides the park into different stands or zones. Each zone is a community of trees and plants growing together. Our plan divides the park into 9 stands. Each stand has its own management recommendations determined by the stand’s composition and the physical characteristics like slope and soil. Many of the stands are threatened by invasive species and have a very thick understory that prevents the regeneration of desirable species. These unwanted species make up the trees that are being cut down throughout the park. The selective removal of less desirable trees and invasive species along with other timber stand improvement strategies allow us to accomplish the objectives listed above. Our long-term goals are to create a healthier more resilient forest that leads to improved water quality.

Please visit Missouri Department of Conservation: Forest Management Plan if you would like more information on creating a Forest Management Plan.

Jeff Birchler, Watershed Center Coordinator