On November 1, 2013 WakeNature’s workshop on open lands management, Stewardship Between the Trees, was attended by 37 people who participated in 4 presentations and a panel discussion about the planning, establishment, and maintenance of fields, meadows, prairies, and early successional habitat. The workshop was organized by WakeNature and hosted by Raleigh Parks (a WakeNature partner) at their Anderson Point Park facility.
Key lessons included the importance of establishing realistic goals for open lands management, locating sites suitable for establishment of and management of the desired vegetation, understanding the ecological conditions at proposed open lands sites, working with what you have to avoid prolonged wars between what’s there and what you want, developing and implementing a plan to transition from existing to desired vegetation, patience during that transition period, and being flexible as conditions change.
Naturalist John Connors led an optional morning bird walk at the Park and found the fields alive with birdlife. Mike Schafale, from the Natural Heritage Program (a WakeNature partner), set the ecological context in which early successional habitat occurs. Chis Matthews, Assistant Director of Nature Preserves and Natural Areas with Mecklenburg County Parks described their early successional management program, which is called MESH (Managing Early Successional Habitat). They manage some 7,000 acres of early successional habitat of various types within the parks system – truly inspiring.
Jimmy Dodson, NC Division of Parks & Recreation, and Jeff Marcus, NC Wildlife Resources Commission (a WakeNature partner), provided practical, hands-on advice about establishing and directing early successional habitat in Wake County. All presenters plus Walt Tysinger, land manager for Triangle Land Conservancy (a WakeNature partner) formed a panel and fielded a variety of questions. The workshop closed with a tour of the Anderson Point meadows let by Melissa Salter of Raleigh Parks.