Crow’s Nest: More Winter Projects
By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager
Crow’s Nest remains open in the winter so our first priority is plowing the parking lot and shoveling the walks at the visitor center. Then, in addition to monitoring our conservation easements, there is plenty of work that is best done when the ground is frozen and access is easy. We don’t want to make ruts in wet soils as this causes compaction and changes the hydrology of the site.
We mow all of our meadows once a year and we try to do most of them starting in mid- to late winter to take advantage of the frozen ground. We choose days when it is below 20 degrees and try to get them finished before the sun hits the fields. We also do just one meadow per day, perhaps just one or two per week, so that we limit the impact on wildlife at the preserve.
Winter is also a good time to manage invasive plants such as multiflora rose (might as well do it when you’re comfortable wearing heavy clothes!). Some of this work is done with the tractor and bush hog but we can be more careful and targeted in our work with handheld gasoline-powered brush cutters, chainsaws, and clippers. It is also much easier to see into the thickets of brush in the winter to selectively cut only those species which are invasive.
Winter is also a fine time to do hazard tree work, and we have some scheduled this season. And if a tree falls into the farm fields this is a good time to clean it up so that it isn’t in the way come spring.
Green Hills Preserve does not get plowed in the winter; the preserve remains open but the parking area may not be. But still we’ve taken advantage of the frozen ground and hauled three truckloads of trash (wire fencing, old box springs, and rusty fence posts) out of one spot; we’ll work on others as time allows in future winter seasons.