by Brent Baker of the AR Natural Heritage Commission

Glades are naturally open areas with thin soil, often with bedrock or a layer of impermeable soil near the surface. These areas usually have few or no trees due to the shallow soil, often in association with a natural fire regime. Glades are usually dominated by grasses and forbs (wildflowers), sometimes with scattered shrubs or areas of bare rock or rock covered with lichens and mosses, often grading into open woodlands.

In the absence of fire, some shallow-rooted trees like eastern red-cedar can become weedy and form dense stands, shading out the herbaceous plants. This is what has happened on the approximately 10 acres of glades at South Fork Nature Center. To restore the Nature Center’s glades, many of the eastern red-cedar trees will be mechanically removed (cut). The branches will be burned on site, the tree tops will be sunk in Greers Ferry Lake for enhanced fish habitat, and the logs will be stockpiled for future use at the Nature Center.

This work is being funded by a $10,000 glade restoration grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is to begin around November 17, 2013. Once the eastern red-cedar trees are removed, the glades at the Nature Center will be maintained with prescribed burns on a periodic basis to mimic a natural fire regime (roughly every three or so years) to kill any red-cedar seedlings and saplings and maintain the open, herbaceous character of the glades. Interpretative signs will also be placed along the trails through the glades to explain this unique habitat.