An addition to a new grant-funded reforestation project at Orchard Hills Park aims to make Natural Resource Management efforts more effective.
In 2018, Geauga Park District received a $72,000 grant through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative/U.S Forest Service program for its ongoing reforestation at this former golf course, located at 11340 Caves Road in Chesterland.
This grant, written in collaboration with Chagrin River Watershed Partners, will facilitate the long-term return of large, mature, native forest ecosystem through planned habitat restoration. In total, 2,300 native trees will be planted this fall over about 10 acres: a wide variety of oaks and hickories, sugar maple, sycamore and more.
In-house reforestation efforts began in 2009 to plant trees on one former fairway each year – work expected to take more than 10 years to complete. The work has also come with its challenges.
The work, however, has come with several particularly difficult-to-combat challenges, said Park Biologist Paul Pira, namely poor soil conditions in some places and deer browse.
“Honestly every time I walk out there in late summer, I am kicking deer out of in between the fairways,” Pira said. “So I thought, let’s try to get some funding for better deer protection and do a larger area more quickly.”
Davey Resource Group was awarded the contract for this project; work begins this week. And this time, an acre of these plantings will be protected from deer by 7.5-foot-high plastic fencing. In addition, every tree planted outside the fencing will have deer/rodent protective tubing or wire cages installed around them.
Creating a “deer exclosure” area will give these trees a much better start.
“The deer are just waiting; we put those new little trees out and they munch on them. It’s hard to get trees started and going with deer browse,” Pira said. ““It will be very interesting to see how trees respond to no deer pressure at all.”
Fencing will be visible to the public toward the back end of the loop trails. Watch for signs posted later in the season.
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