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Sproutin' for the Future: Oak Regeneration Project at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge
Midwest Region, November 8, 2011
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Missouri Department of Conservation Staff establishes a 60-foot radius around the center point of an oak tree on Mingo NWR, to chemically treat all non-oak understory trees to open the canopy up for regenerating oak seedlings.
Missouri Department of Conservation Staff establishes a 60-foot radius around the center point of an oak tree on Mingo NWR, to chemically treat all non-oak understory trees to open the canopy up for regenerating oak seedlings. - Photo Credit: USFWS - L. Landowski
One of the many spots of regenerating oak seedlings waiting for the chance to become the next acorn-producing tree.
One of the many spots of regenerating oak seedlings waiting for the chance to become the next acorn-producing tree. - Photo Credit: USFWS - L. Landowski

This fall Mingo National Wildlife Refuge partnered with Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to perform rapid assessments of the health of bottomland forest trees affected by the long Spring 2011 flood. Bottomland forest trees are tolerable of seasonal floods while they're dormant, but not for a long duration into the growing season. They discovered numerous spots where small oak seedlings had regenerated around the base of massive oak trees. The flood had removed some of the organic litter layer that carpeted the forest floor which allowed the oak seedlings to take root and sprout.

In order for the oak seedlings to become future acorn-producing trees for wildlife, it must compete for sunlight. The understory canopy must be "opened" to "release" the growth of the seedlings and not compete with the oak seedlings for sunlight. Most of the understory canopy are soft mast trees which consist of maples, ash, sycamores, sweetgum, sassafras, and such. Mingo NWR staff and MDC marked and GPS'ed points where large spots of oak seedlings had regenerated. After points are marked, then all non-oak understory trees will be chemically treated in a 60-foot radius from that center point. The understory trees will slowly die out and open the canopy up. This will allow the oak seedlings to become massive giants for the next 50 to 100 years and continue to provide optimal food and habitat for wildlife.


Contact Info: Lindsey Landowski, 573-343-4268, lindsey_landowski@fws.gov



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