Infrastructure Upgrades

Fort Totten Park recently got a new sidewalk along part of Fort Totten Dr. NE and had some resurfacing done on the gravel road.

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Protecting the Next Generation of Trees

I spent some time recently putting out guards on a few trees to protect against deer rubbing.  Every fall, bucks rub the velvet off their new antlers by scraping against young trees, often causing serious damage to the tree.  It’s not uncommon for many trees to have over half the bark stripped from the trunk.  The National Park Service provided 10 plastic guards to put around trees to protect them from deer rubbing.  The trees I chose to protect are those in open areas on the south side of the park where a tree canopy has yet to fully develop.  Keeping these trees in good health will be essential to creating enough shade to keep invasive plants at bay.


I also spent some time looking through areas with a high percentage of invasives, finding the native tree seedlings that will hopefully one day provide a full tree canopy.  Desirable seedlings were marked with flags so that it will be easier to find them in the Spring and keep vines and other invasives from hindering their growth.


I flagged several oak and black cherry seedlings where the bamboo was cleared last winter.  I also flagged a couple of dozen seedlings including locust, elm, maple and catalpa near where the tree guards were placed.

Tree Planting Coming in March

We are pleased to announce that Casey Trees will be helping us plant 20-30 trees at Fort Totten in March 2017.


The plan as currently imagined has 3 goals.  Large shade trees planted at locations A, C, G and H will help shade sunny edges (west and south facing) of the surrounding forest.  The shade provided will help reduce the threat of invasive species in this areas, while continued mowing underneath the new trees will keep invasives in check at the new edge.
Trees planted at location B will match the spacing of the other trees in the open “wooded parkland” portion of the park and serve to provide replacement shade as some of the older trees inevitable die with age.

Trees planted in locations D, E and F will not only add more shade but also serve to create a visual buffer between the park and the road. As they mature it will help create a better sense of space within the park.  The trees will be spaced widely (~35 ft) so that views into the park won’t be blocked and the space will remain welcoming to those walking by.

The exact trees species and locations are still in design, but the anticipated planting date is March 18th.


Bamboo Update

Well I was a bit negligent with posting progress photos of the bamboo patch removal.  Here’s a few photos from back in February for the results of the last few work days on the original patch.

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Once everything warmed up in April, I spent a few hours cutting down all the large resprouts that came up.  This seemed to really use up most of the energy stored in the roots, and all the subsequent sprouts have been much smaller.  Currently, there are a lot of shoots under 12″ throughout the whole area.  Growing up through the piles of dead bamboo the spouts have gotten much larger as I don’t have access to cut them down.

I was pleased to see a number of tree seedlings (including chestnut oak and black cherry) popping up once the area had been opened up to sunlight.  The plan for this winter is to cut back all accessible bamboo sprouts and to mark with flags some of the desired native saplings.

Unexpected Finds

Being a large park in an urban environment means that sometimes I find very unexpected things when I’m out working in the woods.  Last summer I came across this big guy hanging out in the southern end of the park:


He seemed quite “fresh”.  Hadn’t been rained on yet and was totally intact.  Certainly not something I had expected to find while out cutting porcelain berry vines.  Then last month I was working on the eastern side of the park when, to my surprise, I stumbled upon another large bear!


This guy had already had some stuffing ripped out of him, and sadly lost all his balloons.  He still looked very happy though! I guess from now on I won’t be taken aback if I run across anymore giant teddy bears.  About 10 minutes later I found something decidedly more natural, a male deer skull (sans antlers).


I didn’t see any other bones lying nearby, so I’m not exactly sure how it ended where it did.  Wouldn’t be surprised if or somebody’s dog picked up the skull and moved it.

Removing the Bamboo Patch

Along the northern portion of the main gravel road there’s a patch of Asian bamboo (unknown species) which has been slowly increasing in size for many years.  At the start of 2016 it took up approximately 2,500 square feet of ground.  Within the patch there are a few saplings of mulberry, but otherwise this space is completely dominated by bamboo.

bamboo initial

The goal for this winter is to completely remove all the bamboo above the surface.  Since most other invasives are dormant during the winter months, the winter is a great time to tackle this task.  Once Spring arrives, new shoots will be sent up by the extensive root system, but these shoots are much softer than mature bamboo stalks and will be relatively easy to remove.  With careful monitoring, the bamboo patch should shrink and become much less vigorous.  Eventually after a few years the plant should be eliminated.

Below are some photos of the removal in progress:


Jet Bead (Rhodotypos scandens)

We recently discovered a few populations of an invasive plant called Jet Bead (Rhodotypos scandens) growing in the northeastern corner of the park.

This invasive shrub originally comes from East Asia and was brought to the US as an ornamental plant. It has large white flowers in the Spring (it’s in the rose family) and develops clusters of dark seeds in groups of four late in Autumn.

While Jet Bead doesn’t grow as large as some other invasives like Bush Honeysuckle, it can still form thickets which compete for nutrients with natives and can prevent regeneration of tree seedlings.  Because the current population in Fort Totten is still relatively small, we will be giving high priority to removing Jet Bead while there’s still a good chance of completely eliminating all breeding individuals.  By concentrating on these populations before they become more established we can save a lot of future labor.  The first small population was cut on November 21, 2015 along the Boundary Trail.

jet bead 2

As is typical of many invasives, Jet Bead keeps it’s leaves longer than many native plants, which makes spotting individuals relatively easy during late autumn. We are currently aware of 2 more small populations growing nearby this first site which will be removed during future workdays.