Restoring Cottonwoods to the Missouri River (Part 2)

Back in February I wrote a short post about our cottonwood tree planting efforts on the Missouri River.  Here’s a more detailed description of that project, including some early (and interesting) results.

Tyler Janke, our Missouri River restoration ecologist, holds a young cottonwood seedling from our demonstration project’s first season.

The project started as some informal discussions with Scott Josiah, the state forester for the Nebraska Forest Service.   I mentioned to Scott my concerns that most of our cottonwood woodlands on Nebraska’s big rivers consist primarily of mature trees, and that we aren’t seeing many new cottonwood stands becoming established.  As existing cottonwood trees die of old age, they’ll be replaced by the trees that are now filling the understory of the woodlands, including species such as ash, mulberry, hackberry, and eastern redcedar.  Those are all fine trees, but provide a very different kind of habitat than a cottonwood woodland.  Scott was interested in the same issue and, a few months later, approached me with an opportunity to join them on a grant application to fund a collaborative project.

We successfully obtained a grant from the U.S. Forest Service for a three year demonstration project, and the National Arbor Day Foundation jumped in with additional funding and support.  Tyler Janke, our restoration ecologist along the Missouri River is spearheading the project, and will be restoring approximately 300 acres of cottonwood woodland over the next three years.  Along the way, we’ll be trying and comparing a number of techniques to figure out what works best, including:

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