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Dark Cypress Tree Planting

Jul 19, 2010

One of the great things about Duck Creek is the diversity of resources that are managed for on the area. Because of this diversity, we have a wide range of staff who are involved in what goes on throughout the year and in different locations.

In the previous post we received a question about planting trees on Dark Cypress. Since our resource forester, Ross Glenn, had a couple pictures along with his response, we figured we would just answer the question with an individual post. Check out what Ross had to say about the trees on Dark Cypress below.

How much of the area is planted to trees?
A large portion (approximately 125 acres) of the upper end of the Dark Cypress tract was planted to trees. This planting took place in the early months of 2009, whenever conditions allowed us to plant. Ideally we would have moved in, planted and then moved out; but due to weather and flooding we had to accomplish this planting in several stages.

What kind of trees?
When planning and designing the Dark Cypress tree planting we took several things into consideration. Soils, hydrology (including depth, duration and frequency of flooding) and the topography (both natural and altered) were high on the list. In bottomland forest systems, there will be several “zones” of different tree species that develop as environmental conditions vary across elevation gradients.

This map represents our basic tree-planting plan. For the most part we were able to follow this map, with a little couple of minor changes along the way. Each color represents a slightly higher elevation and a different mix of trees that were planted.


Cypress was planted in the very lowest portions, with a little overcup and tupelo mixed in for good measure. Next came the “low” mix; this consisted of overcup oak, followed by willow and pin oak (approximately 30 percent), with some pecan, cypress and persimmon. Next came the “intermediate” mix, which consisted of primarily pin and willow oak (less than 50 percent of the mix), with a real variety of other species mixed in such as hickory, pecan, persimmon and cherrybark oak on a few high spots and with cypress planted around and through the low, wet mud holes. The very highest ground was planted in a “high” mix; this included cherrybark, pin and willow oak (these three species made up almost 75 percent of the total mix) with some hickory mixed in. Hopefully you noticed we used a lot of the same species in all the zones, but the percentages used changed quite a bit, much like a natural bottomland hardwood stand.

We didn’t put a lot of the early successional tree species into this plan. These species, such as maple, ash, willow and sweet gum, will naturally invade the site with no assistance from us. We concentrated on some of the more desirable tree species that don’t establish so easily in bottomland forests. Hopefully in years to come, we will have a good bottomland forest that provides a diversity of habitat and food.

What has happened since?
Since the trees were planted in rows, the site was mowed twice during the summer of 2009 to keep the weed competition to a minimum, and again once so far this year. This spring (2010) there was approximately 80 percent or higher survival of the original tree planting; that’s not counting any natural regeneration that is starting to show up. That’s not bad, considering how many times the planting has flooded and the timing of the floods. I don’t think the survival of planted trees would be near that high if we hadn’t planted more water-tolerant species in the low areas and less tolerant species on the higher ground.

While this isn't a "special study," we routinely check on our plantings to evaluate the degree of success. This is done so that we can continue to learn and adapt our forest management practices to do a better job in the future. So while it may not be technically be "special," it’s a pretty special planting to quite a few of us and hopefully to you too!

Thanks for your question,

Ross Glenn
MDC Resource Forester

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